Rooftop solar panels may be dropping in price, but they’re still out of range for most consumers to buy out of pocket. To bridge this gap, companies like SunRun and SolarCity have cropped up, offering new payment models to make solar panel ownership more realistic. Now one of the newer entrants, Sungevity, has landed a partnership with U.S. Bancorp to finance short-term solar leases.
This leasing program launched today in California, helping regular homeowners find, install and maintain the right solar panels for to ten years. To make this happen, Sungevity and Bancorp are pooling a $24 million tax equity fund — allowing them to offer a shorter leasing period than their competitors, which provides more flexibility.
Sungevity and Bancorp also plan to give their customers the option of renewing their leases for another ten years, or buying their solar systems outright, after the first leasing period ends.
Sungevity is also unique in how it generates quotes for the leases. Instead of sending contractors out to people’s houses to take measurements, the company shortens and cheapens the process by producing schematics from satellite images. Dubbed the “iQuote” process, this process is used to generate a price estimate for the solar systems best suited to each individual roof.
These same aerial images can be used to determine where on roofs panels should be placed for maximum sun exposure and energy output. The company can present customers with images of what their solar systems will look like once installed, and how much energy they will generate per month. They can even tell them how much the panels should save them on their monthly energy bills. The idea is to make the process of acquiring solar panels as easy as possible for the average consumer.
This isn’t the first time U.S. Bancorp has taken an interest in solar financing companies. Last fall, it invested $105 million in one of Sungevity’s indirect competitors, SunRun.
Based in Oakland, Calif., Sungevity previously raised $8.5 million from Greener Capital and German solar company Solon, as well as a handful of angel investors, notably including actress Cate Blanchett.
Companies: Greener Capital, SolarCity, Solon, Sungevity, Sunrun, U.S. Bancorp