| LOS ANGELES
LOS ANGELES Jan 15 Top U.S. solar installer
SolarCity Corp on Wednesday unveiled a plan that will
allow investors of all types - including individuals - to invest
in its rooftop solar systems.
The company, backed by Tesla Motors Inc founder
Elon Musk, said it will launch a web-based platform later this
year to offer debt investments backed by pools of its assets -
mainly residential solar projects.
Most of SolarCity's residential projects are financed
through contracts of about 20 years, giving the company steady
and reliable income from homeowners with good credit and
low-risk returns for its investors.
Since its beginnings in 2006, most of SolarCity's growth has
been funded by investors such as Google Inc and U.S.
Bancorp that put up funds for projects and in return are
able to cash in on lucrative federal tax credits for solar
SolarCity has grown to dominate a third of the U.S.
residential solar installation market. The move announced on
Wednesday is the latest example of SolarCity's, and the solar
power industry's, efforts to expand access to capital to fund
its rapid growth.
Late last year, for instance, San Mateo, California-based
SolarCity became the first company to sell U.S. bonds backed by
contracts for solar power systems. In addition, a startup called
Mosaic Inc has pioneered solar crowd-funding by connecting
retail investors to individual solar projects in need of
A privately held financial technology company, Common Assets
LLC, developed SolarCity's new platform and was acquired by the
company last month for an undisclosed amount. Common Assets'
chief executive, Tim Newell, has joined SolarCity as vice
president of financial products.
According to SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive, the company aims to
create a financial product for retail investors and small
organizations similar to those it offers to large institutions.
SolarCity would not give details on the size of the planned
offerings or how much money individuals would be required to put
up but said it intends to offer products to those who only have
a limited amount to invest.
"The individual investor is going to love this product,"
Rive said in an interview, adding that the company planned to
raise billions of dollars through the new platform over a long
period. The company is planning its first offering before the
end of the first half of 2014.