SolarCity launched its service in Reno, Sparks and Carson City on February 17, allowing customers to start placing orders for solar panel installations. The company’s entry into the area further expands its footprint in the Silver State. Nevada became the 15th state served by SolarCity after it launched in the Las Vegas area in May of last year.
The reception from Las Vegas so far “has been extremely good,” said SolarCity spokesman Jonathan Bass.
“Nevada is a great market for solar,” Bass said. “Obviously it has strong sun exposure but there’s also a lot of interest from homeowners and our products have been well received.”
That product includes a unique twist on the solar panel installation formula. Although SolarCity still gives customers the traditional option to pay for the entire system — which can cost anywhere from $7,000 to $30,000 — it also has a pay-as-you-go option without the large upfront cost of a typical installation agreement.
Introduced in 2008, the pay-as-you-go option now accounts for the bulk of SolarCity’s business. The option works by letting customers pay a monthly fee based on the power their system produces over time.
Using a theoretical example, a person paying $100 a month for utilities might end up paying SolarCity $50 for solar power and the utility company $30 for the rest of their power needs, Bass said. This would bring their total to $80, which is a 20 percent reduction. For the Reno area, SolarCity is projecting an average reduction of 10 percent to 15 percent in power bills.
SolarCity agreements are for 20 years, after which a homeowner can opt to buy the system at a discounted rate or extend their agreement in five-year increments.The installation agreement also can be transferred to a new homeowner if the property is sold, unless the seller decides to simply include the cost of the entire installation in the home’s resale price.
Bass credits the flexible payment option for SolarCity’s growth. Based on the latest figures available from the third quarter of 2014, the company has more than 9,000 employees and 168,000 customers.
“The system has become so popular that we now provide 1 in 3 (residential) solar systems installed in the United States,” Bass said. “There’s a lot of flexibility and people like that.”
The company’s entry to the area also further deepens Northern Nevada’s ties to Tesla Motors and the potential benefits of its gigafactory. SolarCity, which was founded in 2006 by CEO Lyndon Rive and Chief Technology Officer Peter Rive, also counts Tesla CEO Elon Musk as its chairman.
This makes SolarCity’s solar installations a natural fit for Tesla’s battery technology, which is being designed not just for powering electric cars but for electric home storage as well. During a recent financial call, Musk said he expects an announcement about the Tesla home battery in two months and production to start in six months.
Read the rest of Jason’s story at rgj.com.
APPLY FOR A JOB
SolarCity is looking to hire at least 30 people for its new operations center in Northern Nevada. The center will serve Reno, Sparks and Carson City. The company did not provide a timetable when area jobs will be listed on its site but welcomed prospective applicants to reach out to the company through its careers page at http://www.solarcity.com/company/careers