Google Invests Another $75 million to Bring Solar Power to Homeowners

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Photo credit: American Vision Solar

Google’s director of Green Business Operations Rick Needham announced the Internet search and technology leader will invest $75 million to create an initial fund with Clean Power Finance that aims to help as many as 3,000 homeowners install solar power systems. The investment brings to over $850-million the total amount of capital Google has invested in developing and deploying clean energy, Needham noted in a post on Google’s Green Blog.

Earlier this month, Google Ventures joined Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and other venture capital funds in investing $25 million to finance Clean Power Finance’s work to “deliver more cost-effective point-of-sale financing to the burgeoning US solar market.”

Clean Power Finance has developed an open platform that connects installers with investors like Google willing to finance homeowners’ solar power system leases. Serving as a centralized exchange connecting solar power system installers with finance providers offers both parties in the residential solar power system value chain a much simpler, efficient and more effective means of finding each other and doing business, Needham notes in his post.

“The installer builds the system, the investor owns it (in this case, Google), and homeowners pay a monthly payment for the system, at a price that’s often less than paying for energy from the grid. Maintenance and performance are taken care of by Clean Power Finance and its network of installers,” he wrote.

Google’s become especially keen on the idea of solar leasing, which drastically reduces the upfront costs of installing a residential solar power system by enabling homeowners to ‘lease’ rather than purchase outright.

In June, Google announced that it was investing $280 million to create a similar fund with SolarCity, its largest clean energy project investment to date.

SolarCity’s leasing options range from prepaying to paying nothing upfront and then making monthly lease payments. Google engineer Michael Flaster expects to save $100 a month on his electric bills and $16,000 over the 15-year life of his lease with SolarCity, that’s after figuring in his lease payment and lower energy bills.

Here’s a video announcing the project and explaining how it works:


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