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Publication Date: 07/1/2011
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Google Partners with SolarCity to Fund Residential Solar Projects
Rooftop solar panel installers at work in SolarCity project.
San Mateo and Mountain View, CA — SolarCity and Google have created a new $280 million fund to finance residential solar projects. The Google-backed fund is the first collaboration between the Internet giant and the nation's leading solar power and energy efficiency service provider, and represents Google's largest investment to date in the clean energy sector.

The fund is SolarCity's largest project financing fund and the largest residential solar fund created in the U.S. SolarCity has now created 15 project funds with seven different partners to finance $1.28 billion in solar projects.

More Investment Sought
"Google is setting an example that other leading American companies can follow," said Lyndon Rive, CEO of SolarCity. "The largest 200 corporations in the U.S. have more than $1 trillion in cash on their balance sheets. Investments in solar energy generate returns for corporate investors, offer cost savings for homeowners, create new, local jobs for jobseekers, and protect the environment from polluting power sources. If more companies follow Google's lead, we can dramatically reduce our nation's dependence on polluting power." The SolarCity/Google fund will extend solar lease (SolarLease®) and power purchase agreement (SolarPPA) options to customers who desire solar panels installed on their homes, but do not wish to make the larger upfront investment to purchase the systems. SolarCity serves Arizona, California, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Texas, and has more than 15,000 solar projects completed or underway. More than 12,000 of those customers have chosen SolarCity's financing options, while 3,000 have purchased their systems.

"Google has made a series of investments in renewable energy because they make business sense and help deploy a range of solutions that can help move us toward a clean energy future," said Rick Needham, Director of Green Business Operations at Google. "Now, through this partnership with SolarCity, we're excited to be making our first investment in distributed residential solar, making it easier and more affordable for consumers across the country, including our own employees, to use renewable energy in their own homes."

Google has now invested more than $680 million in a wide range of clean energy technologies. This marks its first investment in residential solar.

"As American consumers better understand the consequences of their energy choices, demand for affordable clean power is increasing," said Benjamin Cook, vice president of project finance at SolarCity. "This collaboration with Google will enable us to provide solar power to thousands of homeowners at or below the cost they currently pay for electricity."

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Energy Ed Gets Boost
In another development, Santa Clara (Calif.) University's School of Engineering will receive an anonymous gift of $1.3 million from an engineering alumnus and his wife from the San Francisco Bay Area to help create some of the country's top students in the field of renewable energy. The objective is to develop highly-educated undergraduate students in photovoltaics and renewable energy.

"This is the first substantial donation to our energy program following our successes in the 2007 and 2009 Solar Decathlon competitions," says Godfrey Mungal, Santa Clara University School of Engineering dean.

The donation will help the school launch the Latimer Engineering Scholars Program in the 2011-12 academic year to support teaching and research in sustainable energy. Electrical Engineering Professor and Latimer Engineering Scholars Program Director Tim Healy will begin working with incoming freshman engineering students. He will select five students and assign them laboratory projects, provide education on renewable energy, focusing initially on photovoltaics and then expanding to other areas as the program grows. Each student will also receive stipends for working in the lab and on the projects.

"The objective is to develop highly-educated undergraduate students in photovoltaics and renewable energy," says Healy. "We hope to have among the best educated students in the country in this area." Healy also envisions that the program will develop strong personal contacts with companies and create internship opportunities for the scholars during the summer.

"After students spend a year or two in the program, they will be able to pursue internships in places such as the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado, solar technology companies like SunPower Corporation in San Jose, Calif., and perhaps one of the light-emitting-diode companies in the Silicon Valley," says Healy.

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