Originally published on the ECOreport.
In the fall of 2014, Patagonia partnered with Kina‘ole Capital Partners, LLC to finance 1,000 solar energy systems in Hawaii. Homeowners were given the opportunity to lease systems for less than their current energy costs. The venture was successful, and now they are part of an all B Corp Consortium funding solar in eight states.
B Corp Consortium Funding Solar In Eight States
Patagonia is the tax equity investor; Kina’ole is the fund manager; New Resource Bank and Beneficial State Bank are the lenders; and Sungevity, Inc., is the project developer.
“B Corps know how to make money while creating broader benefits – but any company would be smart to leverage their tax dollars this way. I hope others take advantage of a great opportunity,” said Patagonia CEO Rose Marcario.
The fund will purchase more than 1,500 residential solar energy systems to be installed on homes in Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York.
“Sungevity quickly emerged as the natural partner given its strong customer experience and like-minded management team, and we’re excited to see our fund result in more residential solar over the coming years,” added Kina’ole principal Andrew Yani.
For the Customer
“Customers simply agree to either purchase electricity generated by the solar system or lease the solar systems at a fixed rate that is typically less than the local utility’s rate,” said John Ordona, Vice President of Communications for Sungevity.
Has Sungevity ever had customers want to terminate their leases?
“Yes, particularly when customers are selling their homes. We help them through the process of transferring the lease and/or ending the lease term,” said Ordona.
Life Span of a Solar Panel
The consortium states the average life span for a solar panel is twenty years, during which time “the rooftop systems installed through the fund are expected to produce 200 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity, displacing consumption of 325,000 barrels of oil (equivalent to taking 30,000 cars off the road) and 140,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions.”
This estimate of a 20-year-lifespan is conservative. No one in the industry cites numbers higher than 25 years, but in reality, no one knows how long solar panels will last. Some of the older models are still operational after thirty years.
In response to my questions about some of the functioning older panels, Dr. John Wohlgemuth, of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, emailed, “I do not think those old modules will survive 50 years. First of all because of the EVA formulation they used, they are all discoloring – which means loss in short circuit current (~ 0.5% per year) and loss of adhesion.”
The U.S. solar market is expected to undergo a rapid expansion over the next five years. A recent report from SEIA states that a record-breaking 16 GW will be installed in 2016 alone.
Photo Credit: Sungevity
Reprinted with permission.