SolarCity Takes Step Toward Public Offering

April 30, 2012 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

SolarCity, a leading installer of rooftop solar energy systems, said on Monday that it filed a draft registration statement for an initial public offering of stock with the Securities and Exchange Commission last week. A company spokesman declined to say anything further because the filing is confidential while the agency reviews it.

The broader solar industry has been struggling with the new realities of lower government subsidies for solar power, overcapacity in panel making and competition from Chinese makers of solar panels, which has rapidly driven prices down.

BrightSource, a start-up firm formed to build solar thermal power plants, abruptly canceled a long-anticipated I.P.O. a few weeks ago, while Enphase Energy, which makes solar inverters, settled for selling shares at half its original target price. Leading manufacturers like First Solar and SunPower are scaling back operations.

But interest in solar energy has been growing rapidly, with installed capacity doubling last year, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. Business has increased for developers and installers, especially in states with solar or renewable energy mandates and high electricity prices at peak demand.

SolarCity, based in San Mateo, Calif., is one of a group of companies making solar systems affordable to a wide range of customers through long-term leases or power purchase agreements.

The company was founded in 2006 by the brothers Lyndon and Peter Rive.

In a recent interview, Lyndon Rive declined to comment on potential plans to take SolarCity public but said that raising money to finance installation projects had not been difficult because investors saw electricity bills as a stable source of income.

“It’s not like borrowing money for somebody who’s looking at buying a boat, or getting the latest and greatest car,” he said. “This is borrowing money for someone who’s lowering their energy cost.”

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