Brighte – Interest Free Loans for Solar Systems

Energy finance startup Brighte think upfront costs of solar are too high. Their interest free, buy now pay later app aims to increase Australia’s solar uptake

Brighte, Energy Finance and Katherine McConnell

Brighte Solar
The ‘Afterpay of Solar’ (source: Brighte website)

The company was set up by former Macquarie Group senior manager Katherine McConnell in 2015, drawing fundraising from former investment director at Hastings Funds Management (now known as Vantage Infrastructure), Kim Jackson, and Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes. The Series B funding round raised $18.5m, with Mr Cannon-Brookes calling it ‘part of the unbundling of banking’ in the AFR.

McConnell shares a lot with Audrey Sizbelman, the head of the Australian Energy Market Operator, who has been warning about the high cost of solar driving a wedge between the ‘haves and the have-not’s’:

“I think the fact that someone can leave the system [the electricity network] because they can rely on their own resources is a good thing for an individual but it isn’t for the rest of us, because it means you have a smaller pot of people to maintain the system,” Ms Zibelman said.

“We do not want to invite an economic bypass,” she said, “creating the haves and the have-nots”.

This is why Brighte has been set up to offer a system similar to the extremely successful Afterpay, but for installing solar and other improvements like air-conditioning or more efficient lighting and heating. 

“(Brighte) is a digital credit platform, sort of an energy-focused Afterpay so you buy now and pay later,” she told Fairfax Media.

“However, it differs to Afterpay as our customers are interacting for longer, as they’re not walking out of a store with their purchases, they can keep buying.

“We had direct feedback from businesses that felt there was a need for something faster and easy to support these transactions.”

According to Ms McConnell, they’re already funded over 7,500 homes and work with over 500 vendors. 

The 0% interest plans are available up to $30,000 and repayment terms are up to 60 months. If you’re interested in learning more or finding a ‘Brighte Vendor’ (i.e. a solar company aligned with them who are happy to help offer the interest free solar) please click here to visit the website.

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Darebin Solar Saver – Interest Free Solar Loans

The Darebin Solar Saver, a groundbreaking solar scheme in the Victorian city of Darebin, means that residents are able to take out an interest-free loan from the council to cover the cost of solar panels and installation, with repayments added to household rates. 

About the Darebin Solar Saver

Darebin councillors signed a $10m contract with EnviroGroup in Northcote to manage the expansion of the Darebin Solar Saver program, with systems available from 2kW to 10kW – installations are set to commence in July 2018. This is in addition to the ~500 households already enjoying the program. 

The $10 million expansion, which will be funded via existing cash reserves, will help further the council’s goal to double solar-power generated in Darebin from 18,000kW to 36,000kW. 

The Herald Sun quoted Kingsbury resident Mai Pham as a very happy user of the Darebin Solar Saver:

“We are really happy with our solar system. We’re saving on our energy bills and it means we don’t need to worry so much,” she said.

“The cost of installing solar means it’s not even a possibility for many low-income families, so this help from the council to cover the initial outlay is such a good idea.”

Residents who would like to take advantage of the generous and forward-thinking solar programs (which are currently slated to run from 2017 – 2021) can click here to register their interest. Alternatively, if you have any questions email [email protected] or phone 8470 8888.

Darebin Solar Saver
Darebin Solar Saver (source: darebin.vic.gov.au)

Interest Free Solar Loans

We’ve previously written about interest free solar via Annastacia Palaszczuk’s Labor Party and their ‘Powering Queensland’s Future’ scheme which may be offering no-interest solar loans in Queensland. There are a number of retailers currently offering low/no interest solar deals to customers but to have the purchasing power and safety of the government behind one of these schemes would be an amazing step in the right direction. We’ll keep you updated on any further details for councils subsidising solar for their residents! 

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NAB Solar & Origin – Credit Card Rewards

The National Australia Bank and Origin Energy have partnered up so homeowners will be able to save up to $2,250 on the cost of a new solar system. The NAB Solar credit card rewards scheme will include the option to purchase and install solar panels through Origin via purchasing vouchers with rewards points. 

Origin and NAB Solar Rewards

According to domain.com.au and NAB Consumer Lending executive general manager Angus Gilfillan, the scheme will be launched on November 28 and will max out at $2,250, for new NAB Home Loan and Banking Bundle customers who redeem 350,000 rewards points. 

NAB Solar Rewards Platinum Card
NAB Solar agreement with Origin – Buy a system with points accrued via their Rewards Platinum Card (site: nab.com.au)

According to Mr. Gilfillan, the high cost of entry of solar installations is something NAB are trying to mitigate with their new scheme, saying : 

“We know that cost is a significant factor for consumers when making a purchase, so we hope this initiative makes it easier and more affordable for Australians to make the switch to solar.”

Ryan Willemsen-Bell, the Origin Solar and Energy Solutions General Manager of Business, said that you don’t need to be an Origin customer to take advantage of their offer and they could save almost 60% on a new install in certain circumstances: 

“Using suppliers Fronius and Zeversolar for inverters and China-made panels from China Sunergy and Trina, the outlay for a 3.2-kilowatt solar system would be about $1500 under the new offer compared with a retail price of $3593,” he said.

According to Mr. Willemsen-Bell, the average solar+battery system costs around $13,000 and Origin are trying to find ways to make it more affordable for their customers – offering incentives for solar power users such as a two year interest free payment plan and a Solar Flex power purchase agreement for power from solar panels installed and owned by Origin (an offer which has been taken up by a lot of commercial solar customers, he said). 

We’re not sure how long it’d take to accrue 350,000 rewards points, but this seems like a great way to bring down the initial cost of installing a solar system – please let us know in the comments how you go if you take them up on this offer! 

 

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