SunRun: A New Kind of Utility Company


Many homeowners are interested in utilizing renewable energy sources, including solar panels, but the costs are often prohibitive. Even with tax incentives, solar panels and wind turbines cannot always provide an acceptable return on investment. Some companies, however, have developed innovative business models aimed at solving this issue. SunRun, a United States based provider of residential solar electricity, is one such company. SunRun executes solar power purchase agreements, whereby a third party developer owns, operates and maintains the photovoltaic (PV) system and a host customer agrees to place the system on their roof or elsewhere on their property. That host customer purchases the system’s electric output from the solar services provider for a predetermined period of time. This arrangement allows the customer to receive stable and lower cost electricity, while the services provider acquires valuable financial benefits, like tax credits.

SunRun was co-founded by Stanford Business School friends Ed Fenster and Lynn Jurich. They both agreed that the problem with respect to renewable energy was a matter of finance and not necessarily technology. Their “fixed lease” approach gives homeowners guaranteed fixed energy costs for 20 years along with free maintenance with little to no initial investment. The beauty of their approach is that if the house is sold, the contract passes on to the next owner, who can then renew it, buy the system outright, or have it removed.

SunRun is effectively a new type of electric utility, the difference is that SunRun never has to buy fuel for power generation. Their hope is that they continue to experience growth in their customer base, which has already increased by over four hundred percent in 2010 to a total of 7,000 customers.

SunRun is now the nation’s leading clean alternative to utility electricity, with services available in Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. In 2009 the company raised $18 million in Series B funding and inked a deal with PG&E for $100 million.

SunRun is well on its way to accomplishing their mission, which is to bring clean, affordable solar power to every home. To learn more about SunRun and its founder Lynn Jurich, check out an interview conducted by Bill Roth for TriplePundit.

Cory Vanderpool joined EnOcean Alliance as the Business Development Director for North America. Prior to this role, she was Executive Director of GreenLink Alliance, a non profit organization dedicated to promoting energy conservation in buildings and tax incentives for building owners. Before establishing GreenLink, Cory worked in business development supporting a government contracting firm focused on civilian and defense markets. In addition to her work at EnOcean, Cory is also pursuing her PhD in Environmental Policy at George Mason University and is a part-time contributing writer at Triple Pundit.

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