Solar Matchmaker Pairing Lenders With Commercial Developers

By Brian Eckhouse

Open Energy Group Inc. is a solar matchmaker.

The New York-based company is introducing an online exchange to pair commercial solar developers with lenders looking to finance projects. It’s already matched $35 million of deals ahead of its formal opening Thursday, and has a goal of $250 million this year, according to a statement.

Open Energy compares the service to popular online tools that help consumers line up financing. The forum is intended to help financiers find potential investments, aiding developers in need of funding, according to Chief Executive Officer Graham Smith.

“It’s like Lending Tree for commercial solar,” he said in interview. “We’re taking a market from a pretty inefficient bilateral process to a more open exchange.”

The U.S. commercial-solar industry is ripe for some financing disruption. Some banks that are willing to back big utility-scale projects or bundles of residential arrays, for instance, may be less comfortable with the real estate due diligence required for multiple installations atop commercial buildings.

Plus, numerous potential commercial-solar sites are occupied by companies without credit ratings, according to Hugh Bromley, a New York-based analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance. There’s still demand for solar assets.

“The sector’s awash with cash from foreign investors looking for ways to support U.S. solar,” Bromley said.


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