By Denver Business Journal

Solar power installation company SolarCity Corp., which leases solar panel systems to homeowners and businesses, has raised $21.5 million from California venture-capital firm Mayfield Fund to continue its expansion in Colorado and other states and to give it fuel for potential acquisitions.

Foster City, Calif.-based SolarCity announced last December that it was expanding into the Colorado market.

Its solar-lease business model allows some customers to adopt solar without putting any money down. SolarCity is installing solar in Colorado as well as California, Arizona, Oregon and Texas and has more than 700 employees.

SolarCityâ¿¿s business model calls for homeowners or businesses to sign a 15-year lease for a small-sized solar power systems to generate electricity. In Colorado, where most such systems typically can generate about 4 kilowatts of electricity, the monthly payment ranges between $36 and $40 per month in most cases, company CEO and founder Lyndon Rive told the Denver Business Journal in December.

The lease payment, plus a monthly utility bill to pay for power needed when the sun doesnâ¿¿t shine, is expected to be between 5 percent and 10 percent lower than before the solar panels were installed, Rive said.

SolarCity is the second company to expand into the Colorado market offering third-party owner-operator contracts to homeowners. The other is SunRun Inc., based in San Francisco, which announced it was coming to Colorado last October.

Mayfield Fund, based in Menlo Park, Calif., has $2.8 billion under management. Since its founding in 1969, the venture firm has taken more than 100 companies public and was an investor in companies such as Compaq and Genentech.

Copyright 2010 American City Business Journals
Copyright 2010