HASI funds SunPower lease unit

SunPower has pinned down a $42m pot of non-recourse debt from Hannon Armstrong Sustainable Infrastructure Capital (HASI) for its fast-growing solar-lease business.

While New York-listed HASI,which operates as a real estate investment trust (REIT),has been public in its recent pivot towards distributed energy, it appears to be the first time that it has directly funded a company engaged in the third-party ownership model that is driving residential PV installations in many parts of the US.

“With this investment, we are further diversifying our portfolio of economic, reliable and sustainable distributed energy assets,” says HASI chief executive Jeffrey Eckel.

Since launching its solar-lease business in 2011, SunPower has typically relied on finance from more traditional players, including U.S. Bancorp, Citi and Credit Suisse.

California-based SunPower’s solar-lease business makes it unique among major PV manufacturers. While accounting for just 5% of the company’s total revenues last year, the unit’s turnover more than doubled, and

SunPower now has more than 20,000 solar-lease customers on its books – putting it competition with the likes of SolarCity and SunRun.

“Among our portfolio of financing options, solar lease remains one of the more popular choices by consumers,” says SunPower chief financial officer Chuck Boynton. The partnership with Hannon Armstrong “will allow us to further fund the program’s growth this year”, Boynton says.