“Distributed Solar — the Schenectady solar startup that spun off from General Electric earlier this year — has raised a $250 million fund from Morgan Stanley, Silicon Valley Bank and Fifth Third Bank to finance a portfolio of solar projects through 2020.
The fund was raised after Distributed Solar Development announced in July that BlackRock, the asset management and investment firm, would be investing in the company along with GE backing. GE now owns 20% of the business while BlackRock has an 80% stake.
BlackRock invested in the company as part of its real assets group, which has $5 billion invested in more than 250 wind and solar projects.
The CEO of Distributed Solar Development, Erik Schiemann, started the solar division at GE in Schenectady in 2012. The original idea was meant to change the way solar is marketed and financed.
Previously, the market for on-site solar power plants was served by local solar firms. The business model was based on building installations that customers would finance and own. Distributed Solar Development’s idea was to lower the high barrier to entry.
In a post on LinkedIn, Schiemann said the funding will allow Distributed Solar to provide a more holistic set of services to customers.
“Some other developers are able to design and build an asset, but then have to go raise money to become the owner, or flip the project to another company for long-term ownership, leaving customers uncertain,” Schiemann said in the LinkedIn post. “That’s unfair, and with this fund, we’ll be able to give them a definitive answer. The funding is done; we will be the owner.”
Distributed Solar Development designs, builds, owns and operates distributed solar and energy storage solutions for commercial, industrial and public-sector customers.
That approach has gotten the attention of companies like Home Depot, which has worked with Distributed Solar to build more than 10 megawatts of solar capacity on its East Coast stores. It specializes in solar carports.
Distributed Solar Development spun off from GE’s Schenectady campus in July after being based there for seven years. It plans to move to Mohawk Harbor this fall. Schenectady Metroplex Development Authority is providing a $90,000 grant toward the project.
The company will also store solar panels and other equipment for projects in the Northeast with Distribution Unlimited at the Rotterdam Corporate Park.”
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Diana, Chelsea. Albany Business Review 23 October 2019.