A $100 Million Fund for Solar Financing

P.G.&E. Corporation, the California utility holding company, has created a $100 million tax-equity fund to finance residential solar installations by SunRun, a San Francisco start-up that leases photovoltaic arrays to homeowners.

The fund, managed by a P.G.&E. subsidiary, Pacific Energy Capital II, is the largest single solar leasing pool to date, according to the company, and marks the growing interest of utilities in the renewable energy financing business.

“We’re in somewhat of a unique position in that roughly half of the nation’s rooftop solar installations are in our service territory,” Brian Steel, P.G.&E.’s senior director of corporate strategy, said in an interview. “We’re at the proverbial ground zero of these new technologies and so perhaps more than any utility holding company in the country we have a strategic imperative to get ahead of the curve through having a propriety seat at the table with a partner like SunRun.”

The financing, announced Monday, follows P.G.&E.’s creation of a $60 million tax-equity vehicle in January for SolarCity, a Silicon Valley company that also leases solar arrays to homeowners.

The $100 million in financing is expected to fund solar installations for 3,500 homes in Arizona, California, Colorado, Massachusetts and New Jersey.

Read the full story on the New York Times. By Todd Woody. June 21, 2010.