Clean Power

Published on May 6th, 2012 | by Andrew


Main St, Wall St. Join in Residential Solar Lease Program

May 6th, 2012 by  

Photo courtesy Main St. Power

Main Street Power, Clean Power Finance and a subsidiary of New York investment bank Morgan Stanley are partnering to finance as much as $300 million worth of residential solar power leases in Arizona and California. A syndicate of banks– Zions Bancorporation partner Zions Energy Link being the first– are providing debt financing for for MySolar, the solar lease facility.

Leasing, as opposed to outright purchase, of a solar power system can drastically reduce the upfront cost of having a solar photovoltaic (PV) energy system installed. There have been solar lease programs out there offering to do so for zero down and a series of monthly payments. As many as 1/3 of US homeowners can save money by financing a residential solar power system via a lease or Power Purchase Agreement structure, according to the partners.

Main St. Meets Wall St.

Through the MySolar program, monthly savings from the clean, renewable electricity the rooftop solar power systems produce will flow through to the homeowner. Boulder, Colorado’s Main St. Power will own the rooftop systems, selling the surplus power they produce on to grid providers.

“The MySolar program will be the largest residential solar investment facility in the nation and can help save consumers millions of dollars in electricity payments, create thousands of solar jobs and further the easy adoption of solar for thousands of homeowners around the country,” said Jonathan W. Postal, Main Street Power senior vice president.

Clean Power Finance finds and qualifies homeowners for the residential leases through a network of some 1,550 local solar energy professionals who make use of its online CPF Tools solar sales software platform, taking a cut of the lease payments. MySolar is the third solar lease program the San Francisco provider has launched. It now has some $500 million in project financing available for residential solar leases.

Founded in 2007, Kleiner, Caulfield & Byers (KPCB), Claremont Creek Ventures, Clean Pacific Ventures, Google Ventures and Sand Hill Angels have also invested in the young company. Thus far, Clean Power Finance “has facilitated more than $1 million in residential solar project financing per day” in Arizona, Colorado, Massachusetts and New Jersey.

Morgan Stanley subsidiary MS Solar Solutions Corp. (MSSS) will benefit by purchasing the tax credits for which the residential solar energy systems qualify. “We are excited about the opportunity to be part of this solar investment facility,” said Martin Mobley, vice president, Morgan Stanley. “Clean Power Finance provides outstanding market access, underwriting and asset management services for solar institutional investors.”

New solar leasing intermediaries like Clean Power Finance have quickly established themselves as leading agents for growing adoption of residential solar power systems. They are solar and clean energy finance pioneers in that they are establishing a new conduit that taps into investment capital amassed by banks and other institutional investors, directing it to networks of local solar energy systems professionals and individual homeowners.

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About the Author

I've been reporting and writing on a wide range of topics at the nexus of economics, technology, ecology/environment and society for some five years now. Whether in Asia-Pacific, Europe, the Americas, Africa or the Middle East, issues related to these broad topical areas pose tremendous opportunities, as well as challenges, and define the quality of our lives, as well as our relationship to the natural environment.

  • GreenGyver

    When you’re talking about NYC, I don’t think there are many other banks who would be able to lend 300M, even for a short time like that.

    Now if there were affordable leasing programs for homeowners, or small business owners….that would be ideal. Who needs a co-op to provide such leasing opportunities if the manufacturers do it themselves at an affordable price. One might think that such a think would not be profitable due to the advancement of technology such as this. However, lets not kid ourselves in thinking break-through PV technological advancements with increased efficiencies would available for lease at the same cost as current ones. It would be just like any other service, there are always different levels of quality and performance.

    Instead of shaking our fingers at the banks who are taking on such an endeavor, how about we thank them for helping save our environment. We’ll always need certain necessities to survive. If we can’t take it upon ourselves to start-up a co-op or encourage our city governance to adopt such leasing practices……who are we to criticize. Let’s be thankful their not just buying the alternative energy companies and making it their own to levy more control. Let’s stop criticizing what we wished we could do and go out and do what we can. If someone, be it a bank can help make the environment a better place while making a buck doing it…….MORE POWER TO THEM!


  • They are finding a way to keep us on the grid and in taxes… Banks need to get back into banking and stay there. Don’t they own enough of our lives. Not impressed with who is doing the investing. If we all did this as individuals through a coop we could raise the cash ourselves and hire who we want to run the thing. I think the Obama campaign is a good example of what five and ten dollar donations can create.

    • Akbweb2

      Sure individuals can do this themselves, and you don’t need to plug into the grid. That actually saves a lot of hassle and expense. But lack of scale has always been a criticism of solar PV…How do you reliable power business and industry, a city? A grid is needed.

      These programs do offer good value–they take the guesswork and legwork off the individuals’ hands, and minds, and by pooling large numbers of homeowners, and the tax credits, together provide the solar PV systems at a lower cost, thereby getting installations done that may well not be done otherwise.

      The fact that some big names are getting in on this may not impress everyone, especially if they are Wall St. banks, but it’s not the investment bank that owns the solar PV systems here, you should note, it’s the solar PV company Main St. Power. Morgan Stanley pays cash up-front for the pooled tax credits.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Staying on the grid is a good thing. Batteries are still crude. When solar + storage isn’t enough people run fossil fuel powered generators.

      People on the grid can make use of wind, hydro, geothermal, and the 25GWs of storage we already have. All of those will grow.

      Coop solar is a great idea. Probably the best solution for people who want to get solar on their roof. But not many areas have an established community program.

      Leasing is not as good a deal for the homeowner. Obviously the leasing company is making some money off the deal. But if leasing gets more panels on roofs, that’s a good thing.

      The most important issue, IMHO, is getting as much renewable generation on line as quickly as possible. If the bank/leasing company is making money off the roof owner I’m less concerned than I am about the number of roofs which don’t have panels.

      • i think we are 100% on the same page 😀

        explains why we keep bumping into each other 😀

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