#SolarCity (SCTY) installs solar photovoltaic systems in homes, businesses and government buildings. I recently purchased shares in this company so I’m not unbiased, but the story is still interesting. Here’s their company website.
The company was founded in 2006 by Elon Musk, yes the same man who started a company that later became PayPal. When PayPal was sold to eBay for $1.5 billion in 2002, Musk owned 11.7% of the company. He’s rolled that wealth into other ventures like Tesla Motors, SpaceX and SolarCity.
Renewable energy systems have always suffered on the economic front from the high upfront cost of installation. SolarCity financing changed that by allowing customers to lease their system with no money down. SolarCity owns and maintains the system; the business or homeowner pays for the energy they use, frequently at a lower rate than their currently utility bill.
On October 11th, while announcing their earnings, SolarCity said they installed 78 MW during the 3rd quarter of 2013. This is up from the previously estimated 72 MW for this period. Guidance for the full year continued at 278 MW.
However, the real news in that announcement was the guidance for 2014. SolarCity now anticipates installing between 475 MW and 525 MW of capacity in 2014 – a 70-90% increase over 2013. No surprise – the stock jumped over 20% in trading that day.
Now this doesn’t mean the future is unbelievably bright for SolarCity. They will face changes to the federal investment tax credits in 2016, continuing challenges in financing the installations they’re making and ongoing competition from others in the industry. They will also face the view of some that they may be a good company, but the price run up has made them a bad investment right now.
But isn’t it great, after all this time, to be realistically talking about solar electric playing a key role in our nation’s energy mix?