Performance of solar leasing for low- and middle-income customers in Connecticut

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Policymakers are increasingly interested in expanding access to rooftop photovoltaic systems. This study analyzes the financial performance of a Connecticut Green Bank (CGB) solar leasing program, run in partnership with PosiGen, that targets low- and moderate-income customers. We show that this program has successfully reached underserved customers and has reasonable repayment rates given the credit characteristics of the participants. 

The CGB/PosiGen program reaches many more underserved customers than other PV financing programs in Connecticut.For example, the majority of CGB/PosiGen participants (58%) live in census tracts that have a median income of less than 80% of the area median income (AMI). In contrast, only 9% of participants in the other CGB solar financing programs live in these census tracts. Furthermore, the majority of CGB/PosiGen participants (56%) have FICO scores that would generally be considered non-prime (<670), whereas only 2% of participants in the other programs have similarly low scores. 

Credit, not income, is the primary factor that explains participants’ financial performance. Overall, we find that delinquency and annualized losses are higher for PosiGen (2.3% and 0.9%) than for other CGB programs (1.4% and 0.1%). Across the CGB programs, lower credit scores are associated with higher rates of delinquency and loss. Therefore, participants’ lower credit scores explain much of the program’s higher rates of delinquency and annualized losses.

PosiGen leases perform competitively with market-rate solar and non-solar leases and loans. When compared to securities backed by market-rate PV loans and leases with similar amounts of seasoning, we find that the PosiGen leases have higher delinquency rates but comparable gross loss rates. The similarity in losses is notable given that loss rates for PosiGen leases were higher than those of the other CGB leases and loans. Rather than the PosiGen leases having high loss rates, other CGB leases and loans have unusually low loss rates. We also compare PosiGen to non-solar benchmarks, including indices of auto and consumer loans. We find that the PosiGen leases have significantly less delinquency than non-prime auto loans and have performance comparable to many consumer loans.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Energy Technologies Office supported this research.

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