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Mosaic’s PowerSwitch 6 Residential Home Solar Loans: An Interview with GM of Solar, Erin Talbo

Installing solar panels on a household’s rooftop is an exciting moment for any family, but it’s also one that can come with some fear and hesitation due to the high costs. Mosaic is trying to change that and allow all homes to reap  the benefits of installed solar systems.

Mosaic is a company that provides financing for large home improvements, finding plans that help both contractor and homeowner recognize what they can truly afford. Too often, families will look at the high total costs for a solar rooftop upgrade and assume such a measure is out of reach for them. Even worse, other families simply think solar installations will be too costly and don’t even look into the numbers. Unfortunately, these kinds of financial restrictions tend to be most common on lower income households that could benefit the most from rooftop solar that could offset their power bills.

Looking to bridge the gap and show what’s possible, Mosaic has long offered financing for home upgrades, and recently they’ve launched their next generation of residential home solar loans known as PowerSwitch 6. After having already assisted almost 100,000 homes afford solar in just six years, this move represents an evolution that incorporates solar plus storage, efficiency measures, and prepares homeowners for the stepdown of solar tax credits.

Any program that enables the common family to embrace the energy and monetary benefits of personal solar is a winning venture. I had the opportunity to find out more from Erin Talbot, the GM of Solar at Mosaic, to learn more about this program and the company’s endeavor of making solar more accessible.


Matt Chester: Thanks so much for taking the time to share your story with Solar Tribune. To start, can you tell me a bit about your background and how you got involved in the solar field?

Erin Talbot: My background is in fintech and consumer lending, having previously held a variety of senior roles at E*TRADE as well as LightStream. So, while I’m new to the solar industry, my experience was a perfect fit for managing Mosaic’s next-generation solar financing platform, and I was excited to put my skills to work for a company with such an inspiring mission.

MC: Regarding Mosaic, why did you find it necessary to come up with a new structure for residential home solar loans, the PowerSwitch 6? Why are solar installations hard for households to pay for and how were existing loan structures falling short of meeting those needs?

ET: We think of PowerSwitch 6 not as ‘necessary’ to fix anything, but as the next step in the long-term evolution of solar financing, with benefits for both contractors and homeowners. One of the biggest innovations on the homeowner side is the ability to use combined total household income to qualify for a solar loan, which is unique in the solar industry. Households with multiple income sources should be able to count all of them towards their home solar loan application, and we think this will expand access to solar and all the cost savings that come with it.

MC: Within that program, you’ve also unveiled a new type of loan program, the PowerSwitch PLUS, which enables homeowners to package solar loans with re-roofing or other energy efficiency upgrades in the home. How does this package work and what are the benefits to the consumer?

ET: PowerSwitch PLUS is a flexible, one-stop solution for homeowners that want a single loan to finance everything they need for a home energy upgrade. Re-roofing is an obvious need–  no one’s going to put solar on a roof that they’ll need to replace in two years– but energy efficiency improvements are also important to get the maximum value out of your solar panels. In addition to the simplicity of using one loan to cover a range of home energy upgrades, PowerSwitch PLUS offers terms of 10, 15, and 20 years, which are hard to find with traditional home improvement loans that homeowners might otherwise use.

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MC: What have the results of these loan programs looked like? How many homes have used your loan programs and for how many of those homes would solar installations have been out of reach if they had to deal with the other options on the market?

ET: We’ve helped nearly 100,000 households go solar with our loan financing platform over the past six years, and we believe the innovations in PowerSwitch 6 will continue expanding on this growth by making solar and other energy efficient home improvements more affordable and accessible.

MC: With regard to PowerSwitch PLUS, do you have any data on what types of energy upgrades and total savings — both energy and costs– average customers are able to achieve?

ET: No data yet, since PLUS has just launched and we can’t share data from our pilot program. But for perspective, the average homeowner going solar with a Mosaic loan saves over $30,000 over the life of their solar installation. We anticipate even greater savings when bundled with energy efficiency improvements, which can pay back even more quickly than solar.

Source: Wikicommons

Looking Forward

MC: One key feature is that the PowerSwitch PLUS loan does not assume tax credits will be used to pay down the principal– can you talk about why that is and how that might benefit both the customer and the wider industry?

ET: The benefits are two-fold. For customers, it simplifies the process of combining solar with other home energy upgrades, and it allows them to use the tax credit for whatever they want instead of paying down their loan principal. For the wider industry, it helps our contractor partners get ahead of the coming stepdown for the federal tax credit that begins next year. By giving our contractors more options, including an option that isn’t structured around the tax credit, they are better positioned for long-term success.

MC: What’s Mosaic’s strategy for finding customers in the market for solar financing and engaging them with your offerings? What’s that sales cycle look like? 

ET: Mosaic is a B2B2C company. While we ultimately provide loans to homeowners, our primary customers are actually solar contractors. So, in addition to making PowerSwitch 6 loans more appealing to homeowners for all the reasons we’ve discussed, we’ve also made them more appealing to contractors in specific ways.

For example, daily funding will cut the time for a contractor to receive funding to one to two business days, and earlier disbursements and simpler milestones will also improve contractor cashflow. Ultimately, our strategy for engaging our partners is to give them the best possible tools to build their business.

MC: The various products you offer are clearly a sign of the rapidly evolving solar industry and responding to those changes. DO you have any predictions for how the industry will continue to evolve and what that might mean for the solar financing market? 

ET: We think that homeowners will continue to ask for more than just solar when it comes to home energy upgrades, whether that’s new technologies like batteries and smart home devices or established efficiency solutions like insulation and windows. Thus, we expect to see lines continue to blur between solar, storage, and other home energy efficiency loans, and we also expect customers to demand more ease of use, flexibility, and accessibility from financing products.

To keep up with these changes, solar financing providers need a commitment to innovation as well as strong backing from financial markets, and Mosaic has proven itself to be an industry leader on both accounts.

Photo Source: Prosperous America

For more information on Mosaic, visit their website for regular updates.

About the author: Matt Chester is an energy analyst in Orlando, studied engineering and science & technology policy at the University of Virginia, and operates the Chester Energy and Policy blog and website to share news, insights, and advice in the fields of energy policy, energy technology, and more. For more quick hits in addition to posts on this blog, follow him on Twitter @ChesterEnergy.


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