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Lowe’s Buys Sungevity Stake to Offer In-Store Solar Lease

Lowe’s Cos., the second-largest U.S. home improvement retailer, purchased a minority stake in Sungevity Inc. and will offer the rooftop solar company’s services in its stores.

Lowe’s expects to provide in-store quotes for installing solar power systems at customers’ homes beginning in mid-2011 at some California stores, the companies said today in a joint statement. Lowe’s will eventually offer the service at all its stores in states where Sungevity operates. The companies didn’t disclose the size of the stake or how much the Mooresville, North Carolina-based retailer paid.

The agreement shows the growing link between home-improvement businesses and the consumer solar industry. Home Depot Inc. offers similar services to customers.

“Our goal is to take this solar offering to the masses,” Sungevity Founder Danny Kennedy said in an interview. “We’re gearing up for the demand, and that’s part of the reason for the Lowe’s investment.” About 15 million people a week visit Lowe’s more-than 1,750 locations, according to the statement.

Sungevity offers solar leasing programs to consumers who pay a monthly fee to the Oakland, California-based company to cover the installation of rooftop energy systems. Sungevity owns the photovoltaic panels. It operates in Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York.

Home Depot, the largest home improvement retailer partnered in March 2010 with San Mateo, California-based SolarCity Inc., which installs systems for Home Depot customers in California and Arizona. The Atlanta-based company also works with the San Francisco-based solar leasing company SunRun Inc. in Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

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