Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Financing Heating Up For Solar Industry

From Investor's Business Daily:

Lending is starting to flow a little more freely toward solar-power projects and providers, after a stall.

The industry, still beset by oversupply and reliant on government perks for survival, could use the help.

Financing "is one of the most important issues — maybe the most important," said John Hardy, a Broadpoint AmTech analyst.

It's all some projects need to move forward, he says. "For the most part, the (financing) math makes sense on good-quality projects," with a key tax credit's availability extended through 2016. On the other hand, he says, interest rates for funding solar projects are as much as 2% higher than a couple years ago.

On Tuesday, the top installer of solar power systems for U.S. homes, SolarCity, said it's doubled to $100 million a financing arrangement it has with U.S. Bancorp (USB). The tax-equity plan lets privately held SolarCity provide nothing-down "solar leases" to customers, who pay back over time as their new solar systems save money vs. old electric bills.

While banks remain selective, financing in the solar industry is better than it's been the past year, says Lyndon Rive, CEO of Foster City, Calif.-based SolarCity....MORE