US telecommunications behemoth Verizon has pledged its commitment to helping the environment in an effort to address climate change by investing $1bn in green-friendly projects.
Verizon had been actively pursuing funding for its environmental commitments by using lower-cost bonds that appeal to a growing block of environmentally-sensitive investors. This week the US operator borrowed $1bn courtesy of a so-called green bond which basically allows them to spend the proceeds on projects that will create a positive impact on the environment.
The injection of capital will significantly help Verizon fulfill its promise from 2018, when it said that it intends to cover at least half of its energy use with renewable sources by 2025. It was further disclosed that new projects will include solar and hydrogen fuel cell electricity production at its existing properties and other investments will be made in larger solar and wind farms in areas in close proximity to its facilities nationwide.
Jim Gowen, Vice President for Verizon’s global supply chain expressed his delight at the investment boost and said it illustrated further proof of its commitment to creating a cleaner and more sustainable environment.
Gowen said, “This is now a real game changer. The whole goal of this new bond was to focus on a new, unique funding source.”
In addition to this, the bond issue was a huge success from a financial perspective. Wall Street underwriters had eight times more orders to buy bonds than bonds to sell which ultimately allowed them to reduce Verizon’s borrowing cost below the rate on its typical corporate debt. Verizon declined to specify the exact borrowing rate.
Green bond issuance rocketed to $167 billion worldwide last year, which represented almost a quadruple increase from the level in 2015. Projections appear to indicate that it has resonated with investors so much so that the sector issuance this year could hit $200 billion, according to Moody’s Investor Service.
The new initiative is one way the investment community is seeking to address the risks of climate change at a time when the federal government has renounced many such efforts. So far, most of the borrowing has been by government entities, but more corporations are getting in the market, too.
Verizon last year added 200,000 LED bulbs, Gowen says. Some money will also be spent on the company’s reforestation program a commitment to plant 2 million new trees by 2030 including 250,000 in areas hit by the series of major hurricanes in 2017 like Puerto Rico and Miami.
Verizon plans to spend the $1 billion in three years or less. And he’s already thinking about how the company could spend more with additional green bond issues. “I already have plans and I’m setting up my next $1 billion. We see this as a great funding mechanism in the future.