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SolarCity Announces Expansion in New York, Files for $200 Million IPO

Just days after announcing the launch of major expansions in New York state, the San Mateo-based solar company SolarCity has filed for an IPO in excess of $200 million. Having already received more than $1.5 billion in funding from a variety of high profile companies including Google, PG&E, and U.S. Bancorp, SolarCity is betting on the success of its business model to appeal to stock investors eager to snatch up a slice of the potentially lucrative solar pie.

The company’s business model is simple and effective, and has led SolarCity to rapdily become one of the most successful solar power providers in the country. Rather than requiring customers to pay the high costs associated with the purchase and installation of solar PV panels for their homes, SolarCity offers the option for residential customers to instead lease the electricity-generating technology for an affordable monthly fee. Since its launch in 2006, it has serviced over 33,000 buildings in 14 states, and as of June 30, it claimed to have 31,600 solar system customers. This number is expected to grow exponentially as the company continues its expansion efforts.

A statement issued by Robert M. Hallman, New York’s Secretary for Energy and Environment, cited the NY-Sun Initiative as the principal driving force behind SolarCity’s decision to expand in New York State. “We are dramatically increasing solar energy installations all across New York,” Hallman said. “[The] announcement by SolarCity shows that NY-Sun is not only good energy and environmental policy, it is also good for business and the economy of the State.”

The NY-Sun Initiative, which was announced in August by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, will see the state investing $800 million in the next three years in rebates and grants to consumers and businesses that install PV solar systems on their homes and businesses. With these added incentives expected to generate increased interest in solar alternatives, SolarCity appears poised to take perfect advantage of the opportunity. In July, SolarCity opened an expanded operations center in Albany. With its announcement in early October for the opening of two new facilities in Westchester County and Long Island, SolarCity is effectively doubling down on the opportunity to corner the market on affordable solar power while simultaneously bringing jobs to the local economy. 

Ed Steins, the Northeast Regional Vice President for SolarCity, said the company’s New York expansion accomplishes the task of killing two birds with one stone. “This expansion brings new jobs and cleaner power to New York,” Steins said. “Installers, electricians, construction managers and field sales are good local jobs that can’t be outsourced.”

Meanwhile, SolarCity’s intent to go public could result in wide-scale expansion and a hiring spree that might serve to dwarf the number of jobs created in New York state since its arrival there in 2011. The IPO offer is being underwritten by Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse Securities and BofA Merrill Lynch. Plans are for the company to adopt the ticker symbol SCTY and list its stock on the Nasdaq Global Market.

Lead image: Solar panel installation via Shutterstock

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Vince Font is a freelance journalist specializing in the fields of renewable energy, high tech, travel, and entertainment. Read his blog at www.vincefont.com or follow him on Twitter @vincefont.

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