David R. Baker, Chronicle Staff Writer
January 20, 2010
The deal, to be announced today, places PG&E in a role typically filled by banks. Last year's financial meltdown made banks hesitant to lend, forcing many young green-tech companies to either place projects on hold or find other sources of financing.
A PG&E subsidiary will finance solar installations by SolarCity Corp. Unlike most solar installation firms, SolarCity continues to own and operate the rooftop systems it places on homes and businesses. Customers buy only the electricity, not the panels.
The financing from PG&E will enable SolarCity to build about 1,000 installations on homes and businesses, most of them in California.
"The biggest constraint to our growth is the lack of financing, and this will support our growth," said Lyndon Rive, SolarCity's chief executive officer.
The money will come from Pacific Venture Capital, a subsidiary of PG&E Corp., which is also the parent company of Pacific Gas and Electric Co.
In return, Pacific Venture Capital will get a cut of the revenue SolarCity receives from the solar arrays it installs, as well as federal investment tax credits from those projects. PG&E will recoup its $60 million investment and make a profit, although the companies on Tuesday declined to say how large that profit would be.
"We think this is going to broaden access to renewable energy, both inside and outside our service territory," said Rand Rosenberg, senior vice president of corporate strategy and development at PG&E Corp.