Saturday, July 30, 2011

SunPower Corporation and Citi put up a $105 million residential solar leasing program for households in eight U.S. states.

Citi is contributing $80 million to the solar lease fund as part of its $50 billion support for the commercialization of the alternative energy and clean technology in markets. The global financial services firm has invested $30 billion to the 10-year initiative.

The solar lease fund will be open to homeowners in Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. With the exception of Massachusetts, New York and Pennsylvania, these states led the United States in terms of cumulative installed photovoltaic capacity per capita in 2010 according to a report by the Interstate Renewable Energy Council.

The program by the California-based solar panel provider SunPower allows for 20-year lease terms and offers financing options of lease-to-own or cash purchases.

This means participants may buy their leased solar systems later, allowing them to capitalize on solar home resale values.

The leases offer zero down payment options, systems maintenance and insurance. The solar systems may also be adjusted to fit other energy needs such as charging for electric vehicles.

Last June, another California rooftop solar company, SolarCity, teamed up with Google in setting up a $280 million fund for a home-based solar leasing scheme, said to be the largest deal of its kind to date.

Third-party ownership, either through power purchase agreements or leasing, has helped the growth of the residential solar market according to the first quarter solar market report for 2011 by the Solar Energy Industries Association.

The report stated that in contrast to the volatility of the non-residential and utility segments, the residential market has seen relatively stable quarter-over-quarter growth since the beginning of 2010.

The trade group also reported that in California and Colorado alone, leases accounted for over one-third of the residential solar market in the first quarter of this year. (Jen Balboa)

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