Blog Post

Intersolar: Credit Crunch Hitting Residential Solar

If you want to go solar you better have a good credit score. While power purchase agreements and lease programs are starting to gain traction in the residential market, that trend could be moving faster without the recent credit crunch, said David Arfin, SolarCity’s VP of customer finance on a panel at the solar conference Intersolar on Wednesday.

“Consumer credit markets are very important to the growth of this entire industry,” said Arfin, and explained that his startup and their financial partner Morgan Stanley have set a minimum FICO score of 720 for customers seeking financing. Akeena Solar’s EVP of Sales and Marketing Steve Daniel has seen a similar situation. Akeena had sold many of its systems to rich customers for cash but now Daniel says “the equity is gone . . . The game has changed radically in the last 12 months.”

SunPower’s Eric Schmidt brought up home equity loans as the “the forgotten step child of financing solar.” But of course the home equity loan market isn’t so hot right now and many potential applicants have already over-extended their home equity. Additionally, Schmidt pointed out that lenders like Key Bank and GE have gotten out of this lending market altogether.