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Zonline Netherlands Rooftop Solar Model Emulates U.S. Leases

Zonline BV, a Dutch solar energy company, is offering rooftop power systems to consumers using a fixed-rate pricing model similar to the solar leases provided by a minority stakeholder, Sungevity Inc.

Dutch homeowners will agree to pay for 20 years a fixed rate for electricity generated by panels that the Amsterdam-based company installs for free, Chief Executive Officer Roebyem Anders said yesterday in an interview.

Eliminating the up-front costs of residential solar systems will increase usage, Anders said. Solar leasing companies like Sungevity, which announced yesterday it had acquired a stake in Zonline, are growing in popularity with U.S. homeowners who want to install rooftop panels at little or no initial cost.

“People are willing to go solar as long as it doesn’t cost them, as long as there’s no hassle,” Anders said. Zonline will “pitch it to people who are driven by their wallet and not necessarily to save the world.”

Zonline, which will begin seeking customers next week, wants to install 50 systems by early February and 2,500 next year, Anders said.

Greenchoice Financing

Greenchoice BV, a Dutch utility, will provide asset financing for the first 50 systems and may fund additional installations as well, Anders said. Zonline is working with the utility to identify potential customers.

Zonline will sell power for 23 to 28 euro cents (31 cents to 38 cents) a kilowatt-hour, Anders said. Residential customers in the Netherlands typically pay 23 euro cents a kilowatt-hour for power, a price she said is likely to increase over time.

Zonline will also use sales software and design services from closely held Sungevity. Danny Kennedy, Sungevity’s president, said the Oakland, California-based company received a “substantial minority” equity stake for providing its technology. This is Sungevity’s first deal outside the U.S.

Zonline was funded by its founders. Anders said the company wants to raise money from venture capitalists or angel investors, and eventually through additional asset financing deals.

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