News and analysis about energy in California with an eye toward renewables.

Oakland Rooftop Solar Firm Gets Big Cash Inflow

Sungevity promotes itself via a solar-powered popsicle truck | Photo: Sungevity/Flickr/Creative Commons License

Oakland-based solar leasing firm Sungevity, whose founder Danny Kennedy is a prominent evangelist for rooftop solar, has just gotten hold of $125 million in venture capital funding to expand its leasing program, the firm reported Wednesday.

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Sungevity, established in 2008 by former Greenpeace activist Kennedy, offers 20-year leases of rooftop solar arrays to property owners in California and seven other states, and does business in Australia and the Netherlands as well.

According to a Bloomberg interview with Sungevity's CEO Andrew Birch, the leasing firm has acquired $50 million in financial backing from Energy Capital Partners, $40 million from Brightpath Capital Partners LP and the hardware store chain Lowe's, and an additional $35 million from a number of other firms. Sungevity has sold leases at Lowe's stores since 2011.

Birch told Bloomberg that unlike its competitor SolarCity, Sungevity has no short-term plans to go public. SolarCity, whose Chairman of the Board is Space-X founder Elon Musk, completed a successful, though scaled-back, IPO in December.

According to Birch, Sungevity has been able to cut overhead costs significantly through its practice of submitting bids to homeowners using Google Maps rather than site visits, and other similar cost-saving innovations. The fact that solar panel prices continue to drop doesn't hurt the firm's bottom line, either.

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About the Author

Chris Clarke is a natural history writer and environmental journalist currently at work on a book about the Joshua tree. He lives in Joshua Tree.
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