Sunlight Financial was founded by Neil Auerbach and Wilson Chang in January 2014 to help homeowners go solar in a more efficient manner. They envisioned unlocking a large market opportunity by providing simpler financing solutions that were cheap, easy to execute, and retained more value for the homeowner.
Complex leases and power purchase agreements
Complex leases and power purchase agreements (PPAs) dominated the financing of residential solar installations at the time. As the pioneer of solar PPA financing while leading Goldman Sachs’ renewable energy business over 15 years ago, Neil understood firsthand the complexity associated with leases and PPAs, particularly as applied to single family homes rather than large utility scale systems. Neil and Wilson envisioned that a simpler consumer loan, secured by the solar system, would be a far superior means of facilitating mass adoption of residential solar in the US, helping consumers to switch to solar to save money and reduce carbon emissions.
A subsidiary of Hudson
Sunlight Financial’s initial solar loan products had immediate traction and the business grew quickly as a subsidiary of Hudson before it was spun out as a standalone business in September 2015 at the close of a substantial financing round. Neil stepped down as CEO and transitioned to Executive Chairman and Wilson transitioned from his co-founder roles managing finance, strategy, and technology. Both Neil and Wilson remain on the board today, and Sunlight Financial is run by a talented management team.
Sunlight Financial set out to be the premier enabler of simple, tech-enabled financing solutions for homeowners seeking to install solar PV, battery storage systems and other environmentally friendly home improvements. That original mission continues to drive its success today.