Love or hate it, solar challenger Citizenre hits delays

A controversial company that promises to rent, rather than sell, solar panels could announce its plans in the fall.

Martin LaMonica Former Staff writer, CNET News
Martin LaMonica is a senior writer covering green tech and cutting-edge technologies. He joined CNET in 2002 to cover enterprise IT and Web development and was previously executive editor of IT publication InfoWorld.
Martin LaMonica

Citizenre, a company that plans to build and rent solar panels to consumers, has secured some financing and delayed its launch until the fall, according to a representative.

Word about Citizenre initially came out earlier this year, prompting adoration and nasty rebukes from solar industry insiders.

Its business plan is to manufacture and rent solar panels to homeowners. The idea is that the rental model obviates the high initial costs of buying and installing panels, thereby making solar much more widespread.

The company has signed on thousands of "ecopreneurs," people who have pledged to install panels to homeowners once a product is ready.

But people who work in the solar industry have taken a highly skeptical view of Citizenre, particularly its ability to manufacture solar equipment itself in a cost-effective way while training installers and creating a workable rental model for consumers.

In February, company executives said Citizenre planned to announce a manufacturing site and financing in March.

Early this month, Erika Morgan, Citizenre vice president of communications, acknowledged that the company missed that deadline and shared a few details on its future plans.

She said that the company has secured financing for a planned manufacturing facility which will be in the northeast of the United States. Morgan also indicated the company is arranging financing that is separate than that for its planned manufacturing facility.

She said that an announcement on its manufacturing plans could come in September.