TD Bank says “us too” on green energy financing

Just a week after CIBC said it was forming an investment team at the bank to explore all aspect of green energy and clean technology financing, TD Bank is saying: us, too!

Now, I predicted the CIBC announcement would encourage other major Canadian banks to follow, but TD’s effort is rather half-hearted. The company put out a press release yesterday pointing out that its lending businesses are financing a number of green energy projects approved under Ontario’s feed-in-tariff program. “Small business owners, schools, retailers, agricultural businesses, solar panel manufacturers and installers, utilities, and others are encouraged to talk to TD about their financing requirements for solar power and other renewable energy systems,” the bank said in a statement.

TD is focusing here on the microFIT — that is, projects under 10 kilowatts — so this is an appeal to small business specifically. There’s no indication yet whether TD is prepared to tackle financing for larger projects in a coordinated, targeted fashion. And even with this release, all the company is saying is “come talk to us, we’ll listen.” The first sign this is a half-hearted effort is that TD offers up a quote from its chief environmental officer, Karen Clarke-Whistler. A senior executive, yes, but a person you’d expect to weigh in. What I’d like to see is the president, chief operating officer, etc… somebody at the very top that’s signalling the bank’s commitment to this area. I’d also like to see a sign that TD is preparing to develop a group or team or whatever that’s focused on the opporunities — both small and large.

TD is going to have to do better than this.