Mosaic and its project partner Pristine Sun signed a power-purchase agreement (PPA) for a 322 kilowatt PV array with Pacific Gas & Electric under its feed-in tariff program. The PPA allows project investors to experience a 5.5 percent annual return for 10 years.
The array is being developed on dual-use farmlands by solar installer Pristine Sun and funded through Mosaic. The project will sell the solar energy it produces to PG&E under a 20-year PPA under the utility’s feed-in tariff program, which means it will purchase all of the power that the project produces.
Mosaic, which bills itself as an online marketplace connecting potential investors with solar projects, offers individuals a much easier starting point to directly invest in solar power. For instance, the minimum buy-in for the Gerber project is $25. That’s significantly less than the cost of purchasing even a small PV system outright. In all, Mosaic is offering a total of $140,725 in investment opportunities with the estimated 5.5 percent return. However, the opportunity is only open to potential investors in California.
"California contains nearly a third of the entire solar capacity of the United States, but 75 percent of Californians can't install solar directly on their homes," said Mosaic President Billy Parish. "We're thrilled to work with Pristine Sun to provide these opportunities for all residents (over age 18) to participate and earn 5.5 percent returns."
The return on investment is double the current return on investment rate for a 10-year U.S. Treasury Bill, according to Mosaic. The return is guaranteed by Panasonic, the module supplier, as well. It provided the Gerber project with a 12-year production guarantee. Under the guarantee, if the farm fails to generate an expected minimum, Panasonic will make up for the revenue shortfall, assuring the anticipated return on investment.
"Small utility-scale solar projects like this—complete with a low-risk purchase contract with PG&E and top quality components by Panasonic—are the future of utility-scale solar in America," said Troy Helming, Pristine Sun CEO. "As a Mosaic investor, I'm excited to be making our projects available through their innovative and successful platform."
This is the second time that Mosaic has created a direct-to-grid project. The first was for the Florida Apartments in Gainesville, Fla., which sells power to the Gainesville Regional Utility, explained Mosaic spokesperson Katie Ullmann. But PG&E is the first major utility with roughly 15 million customers that the company has created this type of arrangement for—the Gainsville utility, by comparison has about 93,000 customers. Most of the company’s investment opportunities have been for behind-the-meter systems that benefit end-users, like schools and community centers. The offerings, which began in earnest earlier this year, have proved to be popular. “Mosaic has sold out 75 percent of its solar project investments within one week of posting them,” the company revealed.
The project with Pristine Sun is also the first in a number of projects that the companies will partner on, Mosaic said. “Pristine Sun is the leading integrator for PG&E's feed-in-tariff program, and is developing 50 MW of solar power plants in California—enough to power 50,000 homes, to be sold to utilities under 20-year power purchase agreements,” Mosaic said. It also has a 2 gigawatt pipeline of projects, with 750 megawatts under development.