"There are more than 5,000 solar companies in the U.S.," says SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive. "Many of these companies will go out of business." (Paging Solyndra!) But last year, SolarCity expanded to the East Coast and added 12,000 projects, all without a dollar of government funding. The key: Rather than just make panels, it is a full-service operation—designing, installing, financing, and maintaining every system. That's how to ease new customers into an unfamiliar technology. Its 2011 wins:


The California-based company added East Coast service in Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C. It now serves 11 states across the country.


SolarCity persuaded Citi, Google, U.S. Bancorp, and others to invest in residential solar-energy installation.


In September, Walmart and SolarCity announced plans to deck out 60 more stores with solar, bringing solar energy to 75% of Walmart's California locations.


It launched SolarStrong, a five-year, $1 billion plan for outfitting up to 120,000 U.S. military housing units with rooftop solar.

Photograph by Flickr user Mr. Omega

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  • Michael Amico

    Dont ignore the pitfalls of paying cash for your system Ray. This is still new technology and when it fails the costs can be substantial. Warranties written by the manufacturer don't cover all the costs and what if they go out of biz? Cost of panels have gone down 80% in 2 years...that puts lots of pressure on them.

    You can leverage that 30% tax credit, prepay the lease payments, get a production guarantee and not have to worry about trying to sell a home with a failing solar panels from a manufacture that didn't make it. Its the best of both worlds.

  • Ray Boggs

    Lot's of success for SolarCity at the moment but consumers are rapidly discovering the far greater financial benefits of owning a solar system and keeping the 30% federal tax credit and other financial incentives for a 50% to 75% lower cost.

    In addition, homeowners are beginning to hit the 5 to 7 year mark since signing their lease agreements where they are considering the sale of their homes and are discovering the pitfalls of trying to sell a home with a solar lease. What home buyer wants to assume solar lease payments on a used solar system when they can buy a brand new solar system for tens of thousands of dollar less than the remaining lease payments. 

    In my opinion, Mr. Rive should have positioned himself in front of a mirror when stating  "Many of these companies will go out of business.". Leasese and PPAs are yesterday's solar financing models. $0 down, no fees, non collateralized solar loans are the future of solar financing.  


    They are a young company where there is always room for improvements and growth. I wish them much success. Cheers to looking on the "sunny" side.