PITTSBURGH and SAN MATEO, Calif., Sept. 10, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Direct Energy and SolarCity® (Nasdaq:SCTY) have undertaken a broad agreement to provide solar electricity directly to businesses. The two companies have created a dedicated investment fund capable of financing up to $124 million in solar projects for Direct Energy's commercial and industrial (C&I) customers, which is partially funded with up to $50 million from Direct Energy. While many retail electricity providers ask customers to pay a price premium for a "green energy" option, SolarCity can make it possible for many of Direct Energy's customers to pay less than current rates for clean power*. Through the arrangement, eligible Direct Energy C&I customers will be able to utilize solar power with little or no upfront cost, depending on the customer's choice of plans. Customers will be given a choice to pre-pay for their solar electricity or pay a monthly payment, with installation, insurance, repairs and monitoring service included. Solar energy's use of free, abundant sunlight and rapidly falling technology and operations costs have made it cost-competitive with power generated from fossil fuels in a growing number of markets nationwide. SolarCity's vertically integrated service model, combined with Direct Energy's energy expertise, North American footprint, customer relationships and financial stability are attractive to customers in a fragmented solar market. "Solar is a viable opportunity that positions Direct Energy Business as a total energy management service provider for commercial and industrial customers," said Mike Senff, head of U.S. sales, marketing and 360Direct for Direct Energy Business. "Solar complements Direct Energy Business' other product offerings while supporting our customers' corporate sustainability goals." SolarCity is America's No. 1 full-service solar power provider in the U.S. with more than 68,000 customers across 14 states, including more than 1,000 commercial and government customers. SolarCity has created 28 investment funds to date. Direct Energy Business serves commercial and industrial customers in 14 states, the District of Columbia and five Canadian provinces, providing electricity and natural gas supply and energy management services to more than 180,000 customers. Direct Energy Business is part of Direct Energy, North America's largest competitive retail energy supplier, with more than six million customer relationships across the continent.