Duke Energy, the largest electric utility in the United States, was revealed yesterday as the latest equity investor in an online market that finances residential solar.
San Francisco-based Clean Power Finance (CPF) manages half a billion dollars of project financing on behalf of third-party solar investors and provides financial services and software to the distributed solar industry with previous investors including Kleiner Perkins Caulfield Byers, Google Ventures, Claremont Creek Ventures and Morgan Stanley.
CPF initially announced US$37 million of Series C funding in April with new investors Hennessey Capital and Edison International. Duke Energy joined the round in June, bringing the Series C round to a total of $42m in equity.
Duke and Edison are now two of four power utilities that have invested in CPF – two of the four decline to be named. One utility investor has created a fund with CPF to own residential solar assets and four utility investors, including Duke and Edison, have invested equity in CPF, which grew revenue by 325% last year.
Developers such as as Real Goods Solar, Paramount Solar, Trinity Solar and Roof Diagnostics draw down on the funds to finance rooftop systems in eight states including California, New Jersey and Connecticut.
“Our customers are businesses that market, sell, install and finance residential solar,” said Nat Kreamer, chief executive officer of CPF. “When they grow, we grow. So Duke and Edison's equity investments in CPF are effectively bets on the success of the residential solar finance industry in the US and a vote of confidence in our business.
“Many electric utilities do not know how they can benefit from third party owned distributed solar. CPF is educating the power industry about distributed solar’s economic and physical advantages.”
Duke Energy, headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, has invested more than US$2.5 billion into renewables since 2007.
“Clean Power Finance is a leader in the rooftop solar distributed generation market – one of the most dynamic and fastest growing spaces in our industry,” said Jim Rogers, chairman and CEO of Duke Energy.