Google is investing $280 million to help private homeowners put solar panels on their rooftops. It’s Google’s latest — and largest — investment in clean energy. That’s good news for consumers in 11 locations, but not Hawaii.
The money will allow installer Solar City to offer solar systems to homeowners for no money up front. In exchange, customers agree to pay a set price for the power produced by the panels.
Google earns a return on its investment by charging SolarCity interest to use its money and reaping the benefits of federal and local renewable energy tax credits.
“It allows us to put our capital to work in a way that is very important to the founders and to Google, and we found a good business model to support,” said Joel Conkling of Google’s Green Business Operations in an interview before the company announced the investment Tuesday.
Google co-founder and chief executive Larry Page wants Google’s operations to eventually produce no net greenhouse gas emissions. To this end, Google has invested in wind farms in North Dakota, California and Oregon, solar projects in California and Germany, and the early stages of a transmission system off the East coast meant to foster the construction of offshore wind farms.
This will be Google’s seventh green energy investment, totaling more than $680 million.
The money goes into a fund that SolarCity will use to pay for solar systems for residents. This type of fund is common in the residential solar industry, but this is the largest such fund ever created..
Solar City does business in Arizona, California, Colorado, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Washington, D. C. But not Hawaii.
The Google funds are expected to pay for around 10,000 systems.