SolarCity began in 2006 as a residential and commercial solar provider, manufacturing and installing its own solar panels and equipment. The company was headquartered in Fremont, California, before being purchased by Tesla Inc. in 2016 for $2.6 billion.
SolarCity was widely considered one of the best solar companies in the years leading up to 2016, often finding itself in the limelight due to its ambitious technology, high-profile installations and close proximity to Tesla’s eccentric CEO, Elon Musk, who served on SolarCity’s board before the acquisition. SolarCity was co-founded by Lyndon Rive and Peter Rive, Musk’s cousins.
Even since the acquisition, SolarCity’s name has peppered news articles and social media sites in stories citing whistleblowers and defective products. But what happened to SolarCity? Is it still in business as a subsidiary of Tesla?
In this article, we’ll discuss the history of SolarCity, its products and services, Tesla’s 2016 acquisition and the investigations into the company as they stand today. For more information about Tesla’s current solar offerings, click here. Or, if you want to get a free quote from a local installer to compare with Tesla, you can start using this tool or the form below.
SolarCity Products & Services
So, what made SolarCity stand out in its heyday? The company specialized in high-volume installations of power purchase agreements (PPAs), popularizing a door-to-door solar sales structure similar to those in use today by companies like Sunrun. In addition to its installations, SolarCity manufactured a number of cutting-edge products such as advanced rooftop solar panels, a prototype for solar shingles and more.
Let’s take a closer look at SolarCity’s products and services.
Solar Panels: SolarCity’s panels were at one point among the most efficient solar panels on the market, topping even industry leader SunPower in 2015. Tesla continues to focus heavily on powerful solar panels, having recently unveiled 420- to 430-watt modules.
Electric Vehicle Chargers: A match perfect for Tesla, SolarCity’s EV chargers hit the market around 2010. Tesla planned to bridge the gap between SolarCity and Tesla Motors with its EV chargers that run on solar energy, a big part of its master plan to become a sustainable energy conglomerate.
Solar Roof: Though just a prototype at the time, SolarCity’s solar roof technology allowed homeowners to install solar shingles that appear no different from a conventional roof, yet generate electricity the same way as solar panels. This idea evolved into Tesla’s current Solar Roof tiles.
Energy Efficiency Upgrades: SolarCity offered energy efficiency audits, upgrades and technology along with its solar systems through partnerships with home energy firms.
Commercial Solar Installations: SolarCity completed a number of high-profile commercial solar projects spanning from eBay’s headquarters to Intel campuses.
SolarCity Power Purchase Agreements
A PPA is similar to a solar lease, wherein a solar company installs solar panels on your roof but retains ownership of the panels. In a PPA, you purchase the power those panels generate from the solar company at a fixed monthly rate. Most PPA contracts ensure that PPA customers will pay less per month than they were spending with their local utility company.
SolarCity deployed a widespread network of door-to-door sales representatives pitching solar PPAs to great success in the early 2010s. In 2015, a year before the acquisition, SolarCity was the leading national residential solar contractor, …….