Crowd funding for solar projects took a significant stride towards maturation last week with the announcement of the first utility-scale financing deal agreed between Pristine Sun and Mosaic.
Pristine Sun and Mosaic have closed on post-construction permanent loans for six projects of almost 6MW from Pristine Sun's 250MW portfolio of mid-to-late-stage California small utility solar projects.
“Mosaic provided us information to get us comfortable about the capital that they had behind them in addition to the crowd,” Troy Helming, Pristine's CEO and founder told PV-Tech. “Mosaic has a strong bankability package that they provided to us and our partners to indicate that they can get this done. That took a little longer for us but were able to get our partners comfortable.”
Pristine has 500MW of utility projects and 250MW of distributed projects under active development. Two-thirds of that will be deployed in California and the remainder on the east coast and Hawaii. Although it does have some larger projects at 5MW to 20MW, Pristine's utility projects are on average in the range of 1MW.
“That size lends itself better to crowd funding than larger solar farms. Also, because they're smaller they're a little more expensive to build as they don't enjoy as many of the benefits of the economies of scale. So the average installed cost ranges from $3.50 to $4 per watt.”
Helming also said that Mosaic was doing due diligence on a portfolio of southern California rooftop projects that were completed last year.
“We're hopeful to use the crowd funding vehicle for some of those,” said Helming. “We have 700 additional rooftop projects that are not yet funded or built. But we think that rooftop behind the meter DG has the most potential in the entire solar industry in the US. We're very hopeful that Mosaic can be a lending partner for those types of projects.”
Pristine will retain ownership of the projects and pay back the original short-term loan from Panasonic through a combination of the solar company's own equity, a permanent loan from Mosaic and a 1603 grant. Pristine had already previously struck a Power Purchase Agreement with Pacific Gas & Electric.
“We haven't had to convince PG&E that Mosaic isn't going to be able to get it done,” said Helming. “They seem to trust that it's going to happen.”
Almost 1,000 people have invested more than $1.1m in solar projects through Mosaic's platform.
Dan Rosen, Mosaic CEO, said: “We are excited to offer a new source of capital, one that is people powered, to solar developers like Pristine Sun with high-quality projects.”