PG&E partners with SunRun to finance home solar photovoltaics


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PG&E Corp. is partnering with yet another Bay Area solar company, investing $100 million to help pay for the installation of more than 3,500 home photovoltaic arrays.

This time, the parent of the Pacific Gas & Electric utility is pairing with San Francisco-based SunRun Inc. to create a tax equity fund. But the company had already stepped into the banker role in January, when it put $60 million into a similar fund for Foster City-based SolarCity Corp.


Pacific Energy Capital II, a subsidiary of PG&E, will manage the financing vehicle, which the companies claim is the largest of its kind to date.

SunRun, which like SolarCity offers solar leases to homeowners, will use the money too install panels throughout 2010 and 2011 in at least five states, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Massachusetts and New Jersey. The PG&E subsidiary will get any government tax credits associated with the home projects.

Once the panels are installed – at low or no cost to homeowners – SunRun owns the photovoltaics while customers pay a set rate for the generated power. The arrays would otherwise cost tens of thousands of dollars for homeowners to buy outright and install.

The announcement is the latest in a string of developments in the home solar leasing market. SolarCity revealed a $90 million fund with U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corp., a division of U.S. Bancorp, in March. Homebuilder Lennar Corp. said last week that it was partnering with SunPower Corp. on a solar leasing option for some of its homes.

-- Tiffany Hsu