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Published on June 27th, 2014 | by Tina Casey


Pssst, Wanna Buy A Free Solar Powered Carport?

June 27th, 2014 by  

Actually, make that a net-negative solar powered carport. The solar financing company Demeter has just teamed up with the Clinton Global Initiative’s US branch to offer a first-of-its kind “game changing” deal that essentially results in a free solar carport.

To give you an idea of how much this is expected to actually change the game, last year Demeter received a federal SunShot Incubator award of a cool half-million dollars to develop the new financing system, which is aimed like a laser on the small scale, distributed energy market for commercial properties.

free solar carport

Solar carport (cropped) courtesy of Demeter Power Group.

Free Solar Carports – Why Not A PPA?

For those of you familiar with power purchase agreements, the big question is what’s wrong with a power purchase agreement (PPA)?

The end result is basically the same, which is that you pay no money up front for the installation. In both cases, you only pay a monthly fee or rate, which is typically less than what you previously paid for grid-supplied electricity, so what you end up is a free solar installation and lower electricity bills.

So, if the installation happens to be a carport, there you have it: free solar carports.

Taking Solar Brainless

Actually, the simplicity of a PPA mainly applies to residential properties. With small scale solar installations on commercial properties it’s a whole ‘nother ball of wax, and that’s where Demeter Power Group comes in.

CleanTechnica provided Demeter with a space for a guest column last year, which provides a pretty comprehensive rundown of the free solar carport thing.

For those of you on the run, here it is in a nutshell: Demeter has developed a financing mechanism for commercial properties that is aimed at making no-money-down solar installations as quick and simple as a residential PPA.

That’s quick and simple, as in getting lease approval within minutes. The fast-moving mechanism is something Demeter calls PACE, for Property Assessed Clean Energy.

Essentially, PACE is a standard system for matching appropriate customers with installers. It provides contractors with a pricing matrix that enables them to know if their installation price will provide a prospective property with the desired result, such as a “free” solar carport, given the anticipated utility bill savings over time (keeping in mind that grid energy rates typically rise about five percent annually).

Demeter pairs the PACE calculation with its proprietary PACE Lease® third-party financing platform to seal the deal.

Free Solar Carports From the Clinton Global Initiative

Former President Clinton is the gift that keeps on giving, isn’t he? Along with our sister site PlanetSave, we’ve been touching base with his alternative energy projects pretty regularly, but this new project, out of Clinton Global Initiative America, takes it up to a whole new level through the Feed-Out® Program.

The Feed-Out Program pairs independent power producers with financing platforms to provide low cost renewable energy at a fixed, predictable price for the consumer.

It dovetails with the Clean Trillion Campaign, which targets a trillion-dollar goal for clean energy investment per year over the next 36 years, in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by

Demeter’s role will be to provide its PACE3P® financing mechanism. The game-change comes in because PACE3P links the solar service fees to a voluntary property tax assessment, which eliminates a financing obstacle that has typically prevented small businesses and commercial properties from getting credit approval for a solar installation.


Here’s something interesting for you die-hard fuel cell electric vehicle fans. While the partnership with Clinton Global Initiative America is aimed at solar carports for EV charging, the Feed-Out Program embraces fuel cells and other energy storage options.

As for the bad news, if you live in northern California a free solar carport is yours for the asking, as long as your community is registered with Demeter to participate in the PACE program. The rest of us will have to wait.

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About the Author

specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.

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