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SolarCity expands solar panel leasing

Solar financier raises a tax equity fund that it says will allow the company to expand its solar financing option to hundreds of more customers.

SolarCity said it has the funds to further finance its solar-panel leasing offering.

The Foster City, Calif.-based company on Wednesday said it has secured tax equity funding through U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corporation, the second fund created with the U.S. Bancorp division.

First Solar panels installed by SolarCity in Berkeley Hills, Calif. SolarCity

SolarCity is one of a handful of companies that offer financing options for homeowners and businesses to install solar electric panels.

Rather than pay the large upfront cost of solar, consumers pay a monthly fee and can anticipate lower monthly electricity bills. In some cases, the solar installer owns the panels and the consumer leases the panels for 20 years.

SolarCity now offers its financing option in California, Oregon, and Arizona. With the fund, the company plans to hire another 100 employees over the next six months.

The solar industry overall has been hit hard by a dearth of tax equity funds to finance solar projects. Because corporate profits have dipped, fewer banks are able to create a fund based on tax credits, which is how renewable energy projects in the U.S. have traditionally been subsidized.

SolarCity said its two tax equity funds were the only ones created this year to finance residential solar.