Solar Mosaic Inc., which operates an online service that lets individuals fund solar projects, said investors can earn a 4.5 percent return on rooftop power plants, better than 10-year Treasuries that currently yield about 1.9 percent.

The company introduced its service today. In initial tests, the website has facilitated about $1.1 million in investments from 400 people to finance 12 rooftop solar plants in California, New Jersey and Arizona, Solar Mosaic said today in a statement.

The closely held company is developing a new model to finance renewable energy. Its so-called crowdfunding service relies on individuals instead of banks or institutional investors, and offers one of the first mechanisms for consumers to back solar power assets, according to Oakland, California- based Solar Mosaic’s President Billy Parish.

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