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PG&E invests $100 million in SunRun home solar installations

June 21, 2010 |  4:23 pm

PG&E Corp. apparently enjoys playing banker, saying Monday that it is creating a financing fund for yet another Bay Area solar company.

In January, the parent of the Pacific Gas & Electric utility invested $60 million with SolarCity, a firm based in Foster City, Calif. This time, the company is pairing with San Francisco-based SunRun Inc. to launch a $100-million tax equity pool to help pay for more than 3,500 new home photovoltaic arrays.

Pacific Energy Capital II, a subsidiary of PG&E, will manage the financing vehicle, which the companies claim is the largest of its kind to date.

SunRun, which like SolarCity offers solar leases to homeowners, will use the money to install panels throughout 2010 and 2011 in at least five states, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Massachusetts and New Jersey. The PG&E subsidiary will get any government tax credits associated with the home projects.

Once the panels are installed -- at low or no cost to homeowners -- SunRun owns the photovoltaics while customers pay a set rate for the generated power. The arrays would otherwise cost tens of thousands of dollars for homeowners to buy outright and install.

The announcement is the latest in a string of developments in the home solar leasing market. SolarCity revealed a $90-million fund with U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corp., a division of U.S. Bancorp, in March. Home builder Lennar Corp. said last week that it was partnering with SunPower Corp. on a solar leasing option for some of its homes.

-- Tiffany Hsu