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(Corrects financing model in seventh paragraph.)

April 19 (Bloomberg) -- Sungevity Inc., a closely held developer of rooftop solar systems, is expanding to Australia through a joint venture it says will be the first to offer homeowners there panels at no upfront cost.

The company will own a minority stake in the Sungevity Australia venture it formed with the Australian solar retailer and installer Nickel Energy, Danny Kennedy, Sungevity’s president, said in a telephone interview.

This is the Oakland, California-based company’s second step abroad after acquiring a minority stake in the Dutch solar company Zonline BV in November. As in that deal, Sungevity is exporting its model of assuming the costs to install, own and operate rooftop solar plants, with homeowners paying monthly fees to buy the power.

“We’re obviously seeing the success of the pay-as-you-go solar” model, Kennedy said. “This is going to be the first pay-as-you-go proposition to Australian customers.”

Australian homeowners typically must cover the costs of installing rooftop solar plants that average about AUD 12,000 ($12,400), according to a Sungevity statement today.

Sungevity will fund initial installations planned by the joint venture and is in discussions with potential partners to finance future projects, Kennedy said. He wouldn’t say how much his company is investing in Sungevity Australia, which will begin offering solar projects to customers late next month.

Sungevity offers a different financing model, known as a solar lease, in eight U.S. states.

Some Australians pay utilities as much as 24 Australian cents a kilowatt-hour for electricity, Kennedy said. “We can fashion a 20-year power-purchase agreement contract in a way that delivers energy for less per kilowatt-hour.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Herndon in San Francisco at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Reed Landberg at

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