SolarCity Files for IPO

Brian Hicks

Written By Brian Hicks

Posted October 10, 2012

California solar company SolarCity has filed for an IPO of up to $201.3 million. The company currently serves customers largely along the Eastern and Western coasts, but it expects to expand on a global scale soon.

Currently, SolarCity obtains revenue from residential customers, commercial clients like Walmart (NYSE: WMT) and Intel (NASDAQ: INTC), and government organizations. Founded in 2006, SolarCity has established a presence in more than 33,000 buildings to date.

The funds raised from this IPO will be channeled primarily toward working capital, marketing efforts, capital expenses, and administrative uses.

For the first half of this year (ending June 30), SolarCity posted a loss of $23.1 million compared to a profit of $11.9 million for the same period last year, according to Businessweek. Revenue was up to $71.4 million from $20.3 million; most of this stemmed from solar energy system sales.

Manufacturers of solar panels are, of course, in crisis mode. But SolarCity is a panel installer, and thus it – and firms like it – benefits from the crushingly-low solar- panel prices as well as various government subsidies. Still, Solyndra’s bankruptcy last year still casts a long shadow over the entire solar sector.

SolarCity was the target of a U.S. Treasury subpoena in July in relation to its participation in a federal incentive program, but the company has clarified that it was not alone.

SolarCity has already raised $1.57 billion from various investors including Credit Suisse Group, U.S. Bancorp, Google (NASDAQ: GOOG), and PG&E (NYSE: PCG) to develop solar power generators for use on home and business roofs.

Of relevance is a warning SolarCity issued, stating its business depends in large part on state government policies called “net metering;” such policies call for state utilities to purchase excess solar power at retail power rates.

However, states with such policies also tend to limit the number of homes or businesses that can be a part of the program so as to avoid destabilizing a delicate balance. Unless California—and other states with such policies—raise these limits, SolarCity may well face diminished demand.

The company hopes to list stock on the Nasdaq under “SCTY.”

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