Pacific Gas & Electric is more than a utility. For large-scale solar installers, the company serves as a bank, too.
PG&E announced today that its venture capital group, Pacific Energy Capital, will make $100 million available to SunRun to finance solar panel installations. Under the deal, SunRun will install solar panels on roofs in California, Arizona, Colorado and two other states with help from the funds. In turn, SunRun will sell electricity to occupants. The revenue from selling power will then be shared by SunRun and PG&E.
The deal effectively short-circuits several problems facing both SunRun and PG&E. Like other solar installers, SunRun faces a continual uphill challenge when it comes to finding funds to perform its installations. A large number of solar projects remain in limbo because of a lack of money. Although SunRun already has a $105 million line of credit from U.S. Bancorp, more is always better. Meanwhile, the panels will help the utility meet its goals of getting 20 percent of its power from renewable sources by 2010 and 33 percent by 2020. The structure of the deal will also mean that PG&E won't have to own or maintain the panels. That will be SunRun's problem -- they have to do something to earn their fees, after all.