$100 million fund for the sun

Even though the sun is blazing today outside my home here in New Jersey, and many of us understand the fundamental benefits of investing in solar power, the fact that more of us aren't using it comes down to one thing: financing.

Even though the sun is blazing today outside my home here in New Jersey, and many of us understand the fundamental benefits of investing in solar power, the fact that more of us aren't using it comes down to one thing: financing.

Enter a new $100 million agreement between Pacific Energy Capital (a division of San Francisco-based PG&E, which tops this list of the most solar-friendly utility companies) and SunRun that is intended to help finance around 3,500 new home solar installations around the United States. The two companies are calling this the largest residential solar financing vehicle ever created. The deal echoes arrangements that the organization previously created with U.S. Bancorp.

SunRun currently has about 4,000 customers in the five states that are targeted with this new fund: Arizona, California, Colorado, Massachusetts and New Jersey. It works with 15 solar integrators that facilitate the installations. Typically, the homeowner will pay about 50 percent of the actual installation costs upfront, committing to a monthly payment for the energy. SunRun handles maintenance, monitoring, repairs, insurance and performance warranties.

If you're seriously thinking about solar, I also advise you to check out One Block Off the Grid, a solar cooperative buying organization that I've written about several times since it started up in San Francisco. Last week along, it launched solar campaigns in Los Angeles and Southern New Jersey. Another company to research (at least if you live in California) is Sungevity, which is pushing 10-year solar leases that require no money down.

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