Solar system installer and solar leasing company SolarCity, which went public in late 2012, has announced the acquisition of Common Assets, a startup that has developed a web platform allowing individuals to invest in solar projects. SolarCity plans to launch its new solar financing platform soon.
Previously, SolarCity has raised money from large banks and companies such as Google for the upfront costs of installing solar panels. SolarCity installs and owns the solar panels, and customers buy the resulting solar power by paying with predictable, regular payments over a period of years. This new avenue of funding, which is really a form of equity crowdfunding (as apposed to donation), will allow individuals, companies, and “institutions of all sizes” to invest in SolarCity projects.
SolarCity says that the new financing site will be different from other crowdfunding sites because it will be using debt investments, instead of aggregating investments to provide loans for projects.
Notably, Common Assets Chief Architect John Witchel was the cofounder of Prosper, one of the first crowdfunding loan platforms. Both he and Common Assets CEO Tim Newell are joining SolarCity as part of the acquisition.