Two new solar initiatives announced at the end of last week could have a notable impact on how solar projects move forward in the United States. Solar technology has seen rapid development in recent years, however, much of this has happened outside the US in countries including China and India, while the US lags behind. Now, some solar providers are re-thinking how they can offer greater access to the energy technology.
SolarCity launched the first public offering of solar bonds in the US on Wednesday. The company filed a registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to issue up to $200 million in solar bonds initially, and launched a new online investment site (solarbonds.solarcity.com) to make them available directly to consumers. This will allow investors to earn a return on the move toward renewable energy.
SolarCity is currently providing more than one out of every three new solar power systems in the U.S. The earnings on its solar bonds are to be paid by income received from monthly solar payments made by thousands of homeowners, schools, businesses, and government organizations across the country. SolarCity has created funds to finance the installation of approximately $5 billion in renewable energy assets with investments from a number of financial institutions and corporations.
Additionally, Digital Federal Credit Union, a federally-chartered credit union based in Massachusetts, and Sungage Financial, a marketplace that provides homeowners with access to low-cost solar financing, have launched a $100 million residential solar loan program. The program aims to finance some 4,000 solar installations.
Sungage, which currently offers a solar finance program in Connecticut, will first expand its operations to serve installers and homeowners in Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York. In 2015, Sungage will expand to additional active solar markets across the United States. Solar projects can reduce energy costs for US homeowners, but require come with a cost to install the technology which has held up installations on a broader scale for the residential markets where financing can be difficult to come by. The program is designed to allow residential consumer to pay out the cost over time.
Together the two programs underline a nascent movement to build out not only new energy technologies, but financing infrastructure in the US which has recently favored the move to different fossil fuels over renewables on a cost basis. Watch this space.