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Solar Developer Sunrun Raises $60 Million

By Cassandra Sweet Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES SAN FRANCISCO -(Dow Jones)- U.S. rooftop solar-power developer Sunrun Inc. said Wednesday it has raised $60 million in venture capital funding. Madrone Capital Partners led the funding round, which included Accel Partners, Sequoia Capital and Foundation Capital. It comes on top of $85 million in earlier venture capital investment in Sunrun. The financing will help the San Francisco company expand its residential rooftop solar-panel development business. Sunrun buys and maintains solar-panel systems that installers place on homeowners' rooftops, and handles the long-term contracts that homeowners sign to buy the electricity from the system. The contracts are generally priced lower than what customers pay their utilities. Sunrun, which has more than 20,000 customers, handles the net-metering agreements with utilities and arranges the financing for the solar-panel systems. Developing and owning solar-panel systems have become far more profitable than making the equipment. Such investments can bring attractive returns, thanks to federal and state subsidies, such as tax credits and payments from utilities, while solar-panel prices have plunged over the last two years, cutting development costs. "Madrone has high confidence in Sunrun, its management team, and its plan for scaling the processes and technologies needed to take affordable solar mainstream," Madrone General Partner Jamie McJunkin said in a statement. Sunrun bundles the solar-panel systems and sells them to investors, such as U.S. Bancorp (USB). A unit of the bank established a $150 million fund last month to invest in between 3,500 and 4,000 solar-panel systems developed by Sunrun, in the sixth such deal between the bank and the solar firm. Rooftop solar projects have an advantage over large solar farms because they compete against retail electricity prices that utilities charge their customers. Those prices tend to be much higher than wholesale power prices that utilities pay for electricity from solar farms and other power plants. -By Cassandra Sweet, Dow Jones Newswires; 415-439-6468; cassandra.sweet@dowjones.com

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