SolarCity launched a new program which will allow investors with smaller wallets, community groups, and other institutions to grab a piece of the solar pie. Similar to other crowd sourcing schemes like Solar Mosiac, the company plans to harness the power of the Internet to attract investors of all sizes.
Lyndon Rive, SolarCity CEO said the new initiative allows consumers to take part in clean energy development on the investment side, outside of just putting solar panels on their roof.
“Previously, only institutional investors could participate in the financing of most solar assets,” Rive said. “With our investment platform, we’re hoping to allow far more individuals and smaller organizations to participate in the transformation to a cleaner, more distributed infrastructure.”
Tim Newell, the new SolarCity vice president of financial products, and John Witchell, the companies new senior technology architect, will oversee SolarCity’s new venture. Both have years of technology, renewable energy, and e-commerce experience. This includes working at US Renewables Group, a private equity firm, and E*Offering, an E*Trade affiliate.
“SolarCity’s financial products will provide an exciting new opportunity for people to make an impact—both for their own financial future and our global future—by investing in the shift to solar energy,” Newell said.
Unlike Solar Mosiac, SolarCity plans to offer debt-based investments, backed by its mixed asset portfolio, he said.
Solar Mosicac, which uses a crowdsourcing model, had strong success since last year, selling out its first four projects within 24 hours.
With many banks often hesitant to lend huge amounts of money on solar investments, smaller-scale crowd-sourcing schemes give necessary funding for these ventures. HelioPower’s vice president of business development Tom Millhoff recently echoed those sentiments in the Lost Angeles Times:
…solar developers save money by raising capital from the local community or the environmentally minded. That’s an especially big boost for organizations such as churches, he said, which often have limited resources but loyal members willing to invest in their neighborhood.
Will SolarCity’s new venture into people scaled investing work? While it’s uncertain how it will shake out over the next few months, given the companies track record, don’t be surprised if it’s very successful, especially among community groups, environmentalists and small cap clean tech investors.
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