The Solar Energy Finance Association (SEFA), the only non-government organization solely dedicated to advancing the availability of public capital and expanding financing options for the solar energy industry, has announced the launch of its new membership program with enhanced offerings for the coming year.

Open to solar stakeholders, SEFA membership not only affords access to valuable information but also gives solar professionals the opportunity to lead the way and help shape the rapidly growing solar industry.

"We are eager to embark on a new year as we prepare to offer exciting new opportunities in the solar industry," says Mary Rottman, president of SEFA. "SEFA is an organization that supports industry professionals, providing them with the tools necessary to collaborate and collectively pave the way to solving some of the industry's most complex challenges."

SEFA's long term goal is to promote solar as an asset class and thereby improve the solar industry's access to capital, reduce financing costs and increase the footprint of distributed solar power in the U.S..

To do so, SEFA will carry forward, promote and administer many of the valuable work products and initiatives developed by the Solar Access to Public Capital (SAPC) working group, a 3-year initiative to increase the availability of capital to the solar industry, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and led by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

A primary activity in support of SEFA's goals is to develop and promote the use of standardized financing contracts by the solar industry to reduce the time and complexity of evaluating projects, lower transaction costs in the solar development process, and improve transparency to the consumer. Standardization will also allow for the ability to pool the associated cash flows from solar PV assets for sale or securitization in the capital markets, thus increasing the solar industry's access to lower cost funding sources.

Currently, six standard forms of residential and commercial solar leases and PPA templates are available and are already in use by many solar companies. SEFA will promote, administer and maintain these contracts while actively developing additional financing contracts through interactive industry participation and engagement. New standard contract templates are likely to include solar loan and EPC agreements. To view the suite of standard contracts, please visit www.sefa-finance.org/(link is external)

Additional benefits to the industry from SEFA include a Consumer Best Practices Checklist, focused on consumer education and regulatory guidelines. The checklist offers guidance to consumers who are thinking about adding a solar system to their home and assists industry professionals in complying with regulations. To view the checklist, please visit http://www.sefa-finance.org/sefa-consumer-best-practices-checklist/(link is external).

SEFA also offers the opportunity to work with the Open Solar Performance and Reliability Clearinghouse (oSPARC), which compiles actuarial data used to evaluate solar investment risk. Additionally, SEFA members have access to best practices guides for plant monitoring and operations and maintenance and system installation

Other benefits of membership include advocacy for the development of solar capital market solutions and financing structures; creation of best practices standards for other aspects of the solar industry; in-depth and timely information on developments, trends and opportunities in solar energy; educational programs, events and publications; and opportunities to network with key companies, organizations and thought leaders in renewable energy through conferences, forums and webinars.