Despite the series of withdrawals of greentech IPOs this month, solar rooftop installer SolarCity announced on Mondaythat it is planning for an IPO. The company says it filed its IPO registration on April 26, and is waiting for the documents to be reviewed and approved by the SEC.
A SolarCity IPO has been an open secret for the past few months and a report in Bloomberg in February said that an IPO could value SolarCity at more than $1.5 billion. Back in February SolarCity also raised $85 million from investors like Silver Lake Kraftwerk to expand its rapidly growing solar rooftop empire. Overall, SolarCity has raised just over $200 million in venture capital, company spokesman Jonathan Bass told us back in February.
We’ll see what the appetite is for solar rooftops for the public markets. Solar thermal company BrightSource had been planning to go public but withdrew its plans this month citing poor market conditions. While BrightSource and SolarCity are solar developers, the solar manufacturing industry has seen a string of bankruptcies in 2012 thanks to the rapidly dropping price of solar cells and panels.
But those dropping prices are actually good for SolarCity, which installs panels on rooftops of people’s homes and commercial buildings. The company made a name for offering leases – or power purchase agreements – that take away the need for customers to pay the expensive upfront costs of installing and owning the equipment. Consumers pay a monthly fee and are promised to see lower utility bills as a result of going solar.
SolarCity works with banks and corporations to line up a fund to cover the initial cost of installation of the solar panels. The company has worked with the likes of Bank of America, U.S. Bancorp and Google.
I reported this month that SolarCity is also just starting to line up deals to sell energy storage, combined with its solar panels, developed by electric car maker Tesla Motors. SolarCity confirmed the energy storage plans with me, and the duo have submitted at least 70 applications for projects to attempt to receive rebates from the California Public UtilityCommission’s Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP), which provides incentives for distributed energy generation.
SolarCity was founded in 2006, and investors include Draper Fisher Jurvetson, DBL Investors, and Generation Investment Management. Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk also is an investor and is SolarCity’s board chairman. If SolarCity goes public, this will be the second large IPO for Musk’s investments, following Tesla.