American solar energy company SolarCity has announced the creation of a fund that is expected to finance $750 million in residential solar projects, with a significant investment coming from Google.
The new fund is set to cover the upfront costs of solar panel installations for thousands of homeowners across 14 states in the US, as well as the District of Columbia.
Google has committed $300 million to the new fund, the company’s largest single renewable energy investment to date.
“We’re happy to support SolarCity’s mission to help families reduce their carbon footprint and energy costs,” said Sidd Mundra, Renewable Energy Principal at Google. “It’s good for the environment, good for families, and also makes good business sense.”
Simply, the fund will cover the costs of installation and the solar panels and other equipment, giving homeowners easier access to solar power. In return, the homeowners will pay SolarCity for the electricity the solar panels produce, “or monthly rent for the panels in the case of a lease.” And while there is still a monthly bill to be paid, as SolarCity says, it’s “cleaner, and usually cheaper, too.” Of course, this model is well known in the US now, as it is how the majority of rooftop solar power systems are installed. Note that it does have its critics, however, with a recent study finding that simply financing a solar power system with a loan can save homeowners up to 30% compared to solar leasing.
The news comes only a few days after SolarCity announced its 2014 fourth-quarter and full-year earnings, which reported good news of increased revenue and installations, but still showed the company suffered a $140 million net loss which sent the company’s stock price plunging 5% in after-hours trading. In response to this news, SolarCity stock took a short jump before falling back down to around the $52 mark seen after the company’s earnings report.
Despite the significant net loss, SolarCity saw a 110% increase in residential MW deployment, year over year, installing 176 MW in the fourth quarter of 2014, and a total of 502 MW for the whole year.
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