Tag Archives: SolarCity

SolarCity disrupting utilities in Massachusetts; how about Georgia?

Why is great big Southern Company afraid of tiny SolarCity? Look at these 2.6KW of solar panels on a house in Bedford, Massachusetts. Think about much more sun in Georgia, financed by Google and Goldman Sachs, turning into votes for solar power. Big coal and nuclear boondoggles already don’t look so attractive anymore to investors.

By Giles Parkinson wrote for Reneweconomy on 9 October 2012, SolarCity’s big challenge: Prove that energy bills can fall,

A 2.6kW SolarCity installation in Bedford, Massachusetts SolarCity sees the traditional utilities as their biggest competition. “We compete with them on price, predictability of price and the ease by which customers can switch to electricity generated by solar systems,” it says.

“We have disrupted the industry status quo by providing renewable energy directly to customers for less than they are currently paying for utility-generated energy. Unlike utilities, we sell energy with a predictable cost structure that does not rely on limited fossil fuels and is insulated from rising retail electricity prices. As retail prices for electricity increase and distributed solar energy costs decline, our market opportunity will grow exponentially.”

Bloomberg New Energy Finance analyst Anthony Kim said the SolarCity filing could be a “game-changing moment for the solar industry” because it shows “how plummeting component costs benefit a company operating on the downstream side of the solar business.”

That article was posted before SolarCity’s stock went public, and before Goldman Sachs invested half a billion dollars in SolarCity. Six months later, we know Southern Company and Georgia Power are paying attention, because both SO CEO Tom Fanning and Georgia Power CEO Paul Bowers said so at the Southern Company stockholder meeting.


110 MW solar financing: SolarCity and Goldman Sachs

When Goldman Sachs gets in, you know there’s money in solar. They’re certainly not investing half a billion dollars for your health. Of course, if you’re in Georgia, you won’t be getting any of this 110 MW of SolarCity solar on your roof, because of that antique 1973 Territorial Electric Service Act that Georgia Power and Southern Company keep propping up. Maybe we should do something about that. -jsq

PR today, SolarCity and Goldman Sachs Create Largest U.S. Rooftop Solar Lease Financing Platform: Collaboration Expected to Fund more than $500 Million in Solar Projects, 110 Megawatts of Solar Capacity

SAN MATEO, Calif., and NEW YORK, May 16, 2013—SolarCity (Nasdaq: SCTY), a leading provider of clean energy, today announced a lease financing agreement with Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS) to fund more than $500 million in solar power projects; an estimated 110 megawatts in generation capacity for homeowners and businesses.

The financing makes it possible for homeowners, businesses, government and other non-profit organizations to install solar panels with no upfront cost and pay less for clean electricity than they currently pay for utility bills. The agreement was initiated in 2012 and expanded per

Continue reading

Solar cars and charging stations: who wouldn’t?

Tired of Southern Company CEO Fanning’s maybe “next decade” for solar power? Tired of Georgia Power’s Bowers trying to push solar off for fifty years? Let’s hear from somebody who takes on big tasks and gets them done: Elon Musk, who’s already built a rocket that is resupplying the International Space Station, and who is also building all-electric cars.

Carl Hoffman wrote for Smithsonian magazine December 2012, Elon Musk, the Rocket Man With a Sweet Ride

When he’s not launching rockets, Musk is disrupting the notoriously obdurate automobile industry (see National Treasure, p. 42). While industry giants like Chevrolet and Nissan and Toyota were dithering with electric-gasoline hybrids, this upstart kid said he would design and manufacture an all-electric car that would travel hundreds of miles on a single charge. The Tesla Roadster hit the streets in 2008 with a range of 200 miles, and the far more functional Model S, starting at $57,000, was introduced in June. It’s the world’s first all-electric car that does everything my old gasoline version does, only better. The high-end model travels 300 miles on a single charge, leaps from zero to 60 in 5.5 seconds, slows from 60 to a dead stop in 105 feet, can seat up to five, has room for mulch bags and golf clubs, handles like a race car and its battery comes with an eight-year, 100,000-mile warranty. If you charged it via solar panels, it would run off the sun. One hundred a week are being produced in a former Toyota factory in Fremont, California, and nearly 13,000 people have put deposits on them….

And since that story: Continue reading

In Georgia, “competitive” is not for you!

Remember the Southern Company brags about “Our competitive generation business”. The important word there is “our”, as in the Southern Company and its subsidiary Georgia Power gets to compete, and you don’t. Unless you’re big enough.

According to the Georgia Public Service Commission:

Some retail competition has been present in Georgia since 1973 with the passage of the Georgia Territorial Electric Service Act. This Act enables customers with manufacturing or commercial loads of 900 kW or greater a one time choice in their electric supplier. It also provides eligible customers the opportunity to transfer from one electric supplier to another provided all parties agree.

This is apparently only one of twelve Georgia laws that impede a competitive solar power market. But this Territoriality Law alone might be enough of an impediment. Here’s a guide, and here’s the text of the Georgia Territorial Electric Service Act.

Because of that law, you can’t you put up solar panels on your own land and sell your power to somebody somewhere else. And you can’t get a company like SolarCity or Lower Rates for Customers to put up solar panels on your property and sell you the power ( or can you?). Unless you’re generating at least 900 KW; then maybe you can get selected businesses to switch to your power once. Except you probably still won’t qualify, because Continue reading

SolarCity does everything —Will Arnold of SolarCity

Will Arnold spends a lot of time in Toronto for SolarCity but he came to Atlanta to talk to Southern Solar Summit. SolarCity does everything from financing to design, installation, monitoring, and maintenance.

SolarCity’s founders are all IT people. The most famous is perhaps Elon Musk, who also founded Paypal and SpaceX. Two other co-founders sold their previous company to Dell, and SolarCity just got a $280 million investment from Google. I’ve been comparing the solar market now to Silicon Valley 20 years ago, because of how fast it’s growing, how pragmatic and experimental it is, and the general attitude of the people. It turns out in SolarCity it is Silicon Valley.

Will Arnold talked a lot about state incentives that sometimes seemed perpetually going to be solidified soon or other regulatory whims.

He remarked that SolarCity’s leases were predicated on people Continue reading

SolarCity gets big investment from Google

Google invests megabucks in SolarCity, the California company that handles all financing of solar panels and provides them to the customer with no money down and a reasonable monthly payment.

Steve Hargreaves wrote in CNNMoneyTech 14 June 2011, Google invests $280 million in SolarCity

Google and rooftop solar power company SolarCity announced a $280 million investment deal Tuesday, the largest such deal for home-based solar power systems in the United States.

The investment will give San Mateo, Calif-based SolarCity the funding to build and lease solar power systems to a 7,000 to 9,000 homeowners in the 10 states where it operates.

Founded five years ago, SolarCity has 15,000 solar projects around the nation completed or under way. Customers who wish to have the company’s solar system installed at their home can pay for it outright, but most choose instead to let SolarCity retain ownership of the equipment and rent back the use of it through monthly solar lease payments.

Another financing method is Solar Mosaic, where people pool their money to buy shares in a solar installation.


PS: This post owed to M.J. Kuntz.

Solar no money down in Oregon

Richard Read wrote in The Oregonian on 4 Jan 2011, Oregon homeowners can now go solar with no upfront costs:
Oregonians put off by the high price of renewable energy can now go solar on the cheap, installing panels for no money down.

Contractors in a handful of states are starting to offer solar to the masses with lease deals that eliminate upfront costs. Oregon is joining the trend, thanks to regulations that took effect Jan. 1.

The Portland branch of a national solar company unveiled a lease program Tuesday enabling homeowners to put up panels for low monthly payments, cutting their electricity bills and carbon footprints. At least one other contractor, a local company, is developing similar products.

Managers of SolarCity, a California-based company, say Oregon homeowners can go solar for as little as $20 a month with no up-front costs. The new financing option, which incorporates state and federal tax credits….

They’re talking $25/month with no money down. That’s a thousand miles north of here, in rainy Oregon. Maybe we should just invite SolarCity to operate here.