In a vote of confidence for SolarCity and residential solar, Citi (NYSE: C), a global financial services firm, just announced a new fund to finance $40 million in residential solar projects in 2011. This is the first collaboration between SolarCity and Citi, and Citi’s first investment in residential solar power. It is, however, the twelfth fund that SolarCity has received for this purpose.

According to Lyndon Rive, SolarCity's CEO, these funds tend to come in clusters, and to that point, Ben Cook, VP of Project Finance, said that he sees this as "the first of many funds we will do together." He went on to say, "Citi has consistently put its money where its mouth is when it comes to advancing clean power use, [and is now] extending that contribution to residential solar."

SolarCity will use the new fund to provide solar leases to homeowners to install solar panels on their homes. SolarCity has more than 10,000 projects completed or underway in the U.S. including more than 7,000 SolarLease customers. The company has raised project financing to fund more than $700 million in solar installations.

The VC-funded firm just recently surpassed the 1,000-employee mark.

SolarCity has been busy in the last few months.  The company expanded to Maryland and the District of Columbia in January, and plans to expand solar leasing to a new set of states in 2011.  SolarCity added energy efficiency home audits to its arsenal as part of an acquisition of Building Solutions in October. The company is working with First Solar and MiaSolé on a 15-megawatt Walmart project

The extension of the 1603 tax grant program was important to SolarCity, as it was to every solar firm -- although the repeal of 1603 would have more immediate effects on SolarCity.

All in all, it has been a strong start to the year for Solar City, a firm on the short list of potential solar IPOs in 2011.

Other companies offering residential leasing products are Sungevity, SunRun and Brightgrid