SunPower teams with Bank of America to finance $220 million solar leasing program


The blossoming solar leasing market in the U.S. received another positive boost today with the announcement that two American heavyweights of their respective industries are to team up to provide the sector with $220 million in financing.

Global solar panel manufacturer SunPower and Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BofA Merrill) will partner on the program, which will assist U.S. homeowners in financing solar power systems through solar leases provided by SunPower.

Currently, an estimated 20,000 U.S. households have enrolled on the program, which is said to boast low monthly payments and offer one of the few direct-from-manufacturer performance guarantees for installers.

"The SunPower Lease program allows customers to have best-in-class, high efficiency solar on their rooftops, with highly competitive terms," said SunPower CFO, Chuck Boynton. "This, coupled with our unprecendented levels of energy assurance, results in more value to the homeowner and increased retained value to SunPower."

Since first collaborating in 2009 when BofA Merrill financed a handful of SunPower’s large public agency solar projects in California, the two leviathans have enjoyed a smooth and effective relationship.

"We are pleased to again team with SunPower to further the availability of renewable energy," said BofA Merrill’s head of renewable energy finance, Todd Karas. "With this investment in residential solar systems, we are expanding our portfolio of solar installations with SunPower beyond commercial and government entities to now include installations in individual homes.

"This is consistent with our firm’s overall, 10-year, $50 billion environmental business initiative to help address climate change, reduce demands on natural resources, and advance lower-carbon economic solutions."

Solar leasing in the U.S. has begun 2014 with a bang, driven by entrepreneur Elon Musk’s SolarCity, which has seen its value shoot up by 385% since its initial IPO, targeting a further 80% growth this year as the company looks to corner the leasing market for solar.

One of the ways it is hoping to do so is with the recent launch of a crowdfunding-type platform that allows individuals and institutions to invest in PV portfolios, which can then be leased out to residential customers via SolarCity.