Nelnet continues to expand its solar energy services. In 2020, Nelnet Renewable Energy started offering services to help solar developers find subscribers for their community solar projects. Now, Nelnet will start designing and building projects of its own after acquiring a controlling investment in affiliates of GRNE Solutions known as GRNE Solar. The transaction closed July 1, 2022.
This acquisition combines two complementary businesses. GRNE brings more than a decade of solar engineering and construction experience and will be able to leverage Nelnet’s years of customer service expertise, financial strength, and asset management experience to fulfill its increasing demand.
“We are excited to partner with Jess, Eric and the GRNE team to accelerate their growth plans and our diversification into solar development,” said Scott Gubbels, Nelnet executive director of tax and renewable energy. “The GRNE team has earned a strong reputation in the solar industry for their culture, values and high-quality execution and construction management. Together, we will create a unique solution in the renewable space, including EPC services, financing solutions and subscription management.”
In addition, Nelnet acquired certain solar assets from an affiliate of GRNE, some already generating power and others currently being constructed.
GRNE is a Midwest solar engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) firm that designs and installs residential, commercial and utility-scale solar systems in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Nebraska, Missouri and soon in Colorado. Its solar projects typically generate between 1 megawatt (MW) to 5 MWs of power. GRNE also offers battery backup, electric vehicle charging, energy monitoring, and operations and maintenance services.
Based in Palatine, Ill., and Lincoln, Neb., GRNE was established in 2012 by Jess Baker and Eric Peterman. The co-founders will continue to lead GRNE and retain a minority ownership interest in the company. Today, GRNE has grown to more than 80 employees in seven office locations in their service area.
Nelnet Renewable Energy provides value via its tax-equity investing, tax co-investing platform, community solar subscription and campus solar development solutions. Since its initial investment in 2018, Nelnet Renewable Energy has expanded its solar investment portfolio, including with co-investors, to more than $240 million in more than 200 solar projects. In addition, Nelnet Renewable Energy acquires and manages thousands of subscribers for our community solar development partners.
“This acquisition presents an outstanding opportunity for the growth of GRNE and for Nelnet’s continued expansion into the renewable energy space. With Nelnet’s proven track record for growing and scaling business as well as GRNE’s industry expertise, we will continue to accomplish amazing things. Solar energy is a key component to accomplishing the energy goals of the future, and we are proud to be part of the solution,” said Jess Baker, co-founder and president of GRNE Solar.
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