R.I. Commerce Corporation weighing $300,000 loan to rTerra

Middletown solar power startup rTerra PV Solutions LLC is close to securing a $300,000 Renewable Energy Fund loan from the R.I. Commerce Corporation. More

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R.I. Commerce Corporation weighing $300,000 loan to rTerra

BLOOMBERG FILE PHOTO/KEN JAMES
THE R.I. COMMERCE Corporation has granted conditional approval on a $300,000 loan to startup company rTerra PV Solutions LLC under the state's Renewable Energy Fund. rTerra assembles photovoltaic solar arrays designed to be less expensive and easier to install than traditional solar farms.
Posted 1/28/14

PROVIDENCE - Middletown solar power startup rTerra PV Solutions LLC is close to securing a $300,000 Renewable Energy Fund loan from the R.I. Commerce Corporation.

The Commerce Corporation’s board of directors Monday approved the loan on the condition the company can provide additional financial information and satisfy lingering concerns among its three-member lending subcommittee.

Board member and Providence developer Stanley Weiss said he was concerned the state was being asked to take on too much risk in the venture compared with its other investors.

“I am not comfortable with it,” said Weiss, who also sits on the capital subcommittee that will decide the loan. “We are picking up the brunt. If they have a hedge fund guy, why are they coming to us?”

Board member Jerauld Adams, also on the capital subcommittee, said he was comfortable with the investment.

The loan would come from a pot of money within the Renewable Energy Fund, which finances energy projects through a charge on electric bills, set aside for commercialization of early-stage companies.

R.I. Commerce Corporation Director Marcel Valois said the program was designed to bet on pre-revenue companies like rTerra, investments that inevitably carry risk.

The loan is structured so that rTerra would begin paying it back after six months of positive cash flow, or if the company moves from Rhode Island or is sold.

RTerra assembles, sells and services flexible photovoltaic arrays designed to be less expensive and easier to install than traditional solar farms.

RTerra Director Joe Tomlinson said the company’s partners had invested $275,000 in the venture so far.

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