SolarCity makes IPO plans

SolarCity plans an IPO
SolarCity installer Victor Zapata uses a ban saw to make cuts while assembling thin film technology solar panels in Los Angeles. SolarCity said Monday that it is planning an IPO.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

SolarCity Corp., a Bay Area solar panel developer and installer whose chairman heads Tesla Motors Inc., is planning an IPO.

The San Mateo company’s intention to go public come as other alternative energy firms are backing away from similar growth plans, even after the industry reported record growth last year.

First Solar Inc. said this month that it would close down some of its factories and trim 2,000 positions. Oakland’s BrightSource Energy Inc. scrapped its IPO plans a few weeks ago.

After Solyndra’s bankruptcy last year focused an unflattering spotlight on the solar business, SolarCity and other companies gave up hope for federal loan guarantees. But SolarCity has found other funding for its projects through the likes of Google Inc. and PG&E Corp.


The company, launched in 2006, also pioneered a leasing model that helped put previously unaffordable solar panels within reach for the average homeowner. Research group IBISWorld recently named solar panel production among the fastest-growing industries in the country along with yoga studios and hot sauce.

SolarCity, one of the country’s largest residential and commercial solar installers, skimped on the details when announcing its IPO plans Monday — the company did not disclose share pricing or amount or a projected debut date.  The Securities and Exchange Commission is reviewing SolarCity’s draft registration statement.

Chances are, though, that founders and brothers Lyndon and Peter Rive have a handle on the ropes. SolarCity’s chairman is their cousin Elon Musk, who took his electric car company Tesla public in 2010.



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