Manufacturing Sustainability: Green Manufacturing News


SolarCity Introduces Affordable Solar Financing Option for Small, Medium and Large Businesses

posted by William R. Stott
Published: July 16, 2009

52-kilowatt solar system installed by SolarCity atop Baker Marble & Granite showroom in Oakland, CA.

SolarCity, whose residential solar lease (SolarLease) helps homeowners to go solar, today announced an affordable new solar financing option for businesses of all sizes. SolarCity’s Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) can allow even small and medium-sized businesses, churches and schools to adopt solar power for no money down and pay less than they previously paid for electricity. The SolarCity PPA also allows organizations to lock in predictable electricity rates to protect themselves from rising energy costs. SolarCity’s PPA is a unique, full-service solar option—the company provides financing, design, installation, monitoring and maintenance. While PPAs have typically been used to finance massive solar farms, SolarCity’s PPA can finance commercial solar systems as small as 20 kilowatts (approximately 2,000 square feet), or up to 1,000 kilowatts (approximately 100,000 square feet) or more, with generating capacity suitable for organizations of many different types and sizes.

“Historically, it has been difficult to create a solar financing option that generates immediate savings for smaller commercial installations,” said Lyndon Rive, SolarCity’s CEO. “SolarCity has made it possible by eliminating middlemen and by creating the infrastructure and economies of scale that allow us to lower the cost of installation for commercial projects.”

SolarCity has applied a number of key innovations to create the industry’s most affordable PPA. The company created a new fund with U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corporation last month that can finance PPAs for a wide range of commercial installations. SolarCity has also developed proprietary software to analyze the potential solar production, financials and environmental impact for each business, manage thousands of ongoing projects simultaneously, and scale and automate key processes to reduce costs. The company has leveraged experience gleaned from working with more than 500 different building departments to create additional operational efficiencies. Finally, SolarCity proactively monitors system performance via its SolarGuard monitoring service, troubleshoots issues if they arise, and absorbs the cost of operation and maintenance. SolarGuard also provides a Web link that businesses can use to display their solar production and resulting environmental benefits for employees and customers.

Baker Marble and Granite, a 17-employee manufacturer and installer of kitchen and bathroom countertops, chose the SolarCity PPA to install a 52-kilowatt solar system on the roof of its Oakland, Calif., showroom. The company has paid $2,400 less for solar electricity in 2009 than it would have paid for electricity had it not installed solar.

“Before we found SolarCity, we’d wanted to adopt solar for a long time, but taking out a loan or using our capital to cover the large upfront cost didn’t make sense for us,” said Latham Woodward, owner of Baker Marble and Granite. “SolarCity’s power purchase agreement is the only solar option I’m aware of that can allow a business like ours to save money immediately. Our solar system offsets most of our electricity needs, and costs us less each month than our old electricity bills did.”

California businesses that own their facilities and have at least 5,000 square feet of unshaded roof space are generally excellent candidates for SolarCity’s PPA. For questions or additional information about the program, business owners should contact SolarCity directly at 888-SOL-CITY or 888-765-2489, visit www.solarcity.com/commercial, or send email to info@solarcity.com to schedule a free consultation.