Last fall, we heard some great news: Solar City, a leading provider of solar power systems to homes and businesses in the US, had found a way to let investors participate in the shift to renewable energy. The “solar bonds” that they created and unveiled in October of 2014 work like this:
- Investors buy bonds from Solar City, to provide funding for solar projects.
- Solar City installs panels on customers’ businesses and homes — for no upfront cost.
- Customers then pay Solar City for the power generated by the rooftop systems, usually on a 20-year contract.
- Solar City pays interest to the bond holders from those payments, and returns the principal at maturity.
Initially, these bonds were only available to investors who were ready to write a check directly to Solar City, and couldn’t be held in tax-deferred retirement accounts. We couldn’t buy them for our clients’ brokerage accounts, as much as we wanted to. But we joined with other advisors to ask for access, and …
Earlier this week, Solar City announced a partnership with Incapital to offer solar bonds more broadly — including, finally, a way to purchase them in all types of accounts at most custodians. This means that our clients with accounts at Schwab, for example, will be able to add them to their accounts.
We’re pleased to be able to offer solar bonds to our clients — these high impact investments, together with community development investments like Calvert Foundation notes and TriLinc Global Impact Fund shares, and alternative energy investments like Greenbacker Renewable Energy shares, present an interesting new opportunity. With investment options like this, we feel certain that we can invest for our own futures while at the same time we can change the world for the better. Let us know if you’re interested!
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