- Residential solar market leader SolarCity has now expanded into Rhode Island, the 18th state where the company is operating.
- The company is offering Rhode Island customers its third party ownership (TPO) financing plan and its self-financed loan plan, both at no upfront cost to solar customers.
- The SolarCity loan offering will be available in 10 Rhode Island cities and towns. The loan works likes this: Monthly payments are based on the electricity the rooftop solar arrays generate, and solar customers reimburse the national installer through their electricity bill savings. The more the arrays generate, the shorter the payback term.
Though TPO financing generated SolarCity’s early success, a historic market shift is taking place as direct ownership now offers many customers a better value proposition. With the installed cost of solar now lower, the appeal of residential arrays with no down payment or ownership responsibilities is fading.
SolarCity secured a new $400 million fund from Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BofA) last month for financing residential rooftop solar, bringing BofA’s funding with the installer to $600 million. SolarCity now has funds adequate to finance more than $4 billion in solar installations, it reports.
SolarCity installation activity now accounts for one-third of all U.S. residential rooftop installs. Its cumulative installed residential capacity at the close of Q1 2015 was 153 MW and its year-over-year growth was 87%. Its year-over-year installed cost fell from Q1 2014’s $3.25 per watt to Q1 2015’s $2.95 per watt.
The SolarCity programs are part of the larger TPO marketplace that has boosted U.S. residential rooftop solar over the last few years and continues to dominate the market in many states. TPO finances 67% of residential systems in New York and 92% in New Jersey, according to Greentech Media. TPO’s popularity is, however, declining in major markets like California and Arizona.