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TypePublic company
Key peopleLyndon Rive, CEO
Peter Rive, CTO
Elon Musk, Chairman[1]
Employees6,312 (2014)
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TypePublic company
Key peopleLyndon Rive, CEO
Peter Rive, CTO
Elon Musk, Chairman[1]
Employees6,312 (2014)
Original SolarCity headquarters in Foster City, California
Installation vehicles with the SolarCity logo

SolarCity is an American provider of energy services, headquartered in San Mateo, California. Among its primary services, the company designs, finances and installs solar energy systems, performs energy efficiency audits and retrofits and builds charging stations for electric vehicles. The company had more than 2,500 employees as of December 2012.[2]

SolarCity has grown in recent years to meet the rapidly growing installation of solar photovoltaic systems in the United States. The overall US market has grown from 440 MW of "solar panels installed in 2009 to 3,300 megawatts in 2012, and it is expected to grow to 4,300 megawatts" in 2013.[3][dated info]


SolarCity was founded in July 2006 by brothers Peter and Lyndon Rive,[4] based on a suggestion for a solar company concept from their cousin, Elon Musk, who is the chairman and helped start the company. SolarCity has been the leading provider of residential solar power in California since 2007, its first full year of operation, according to the database kept by the California Solar Initiative[5] and was the number one residential solar installer in the U.S. in 2013, according to GTM Research.[6] In 2013, Solar Power World magazine listed SolarCity as the No. 2 overall solar installation company in the U.S.[7]


SolarCity is headquartered in San Mateo, California, but the company uses a distributed service model in which it provides installation from local operations centers. SolarCity has additional locations in:

Business offerings[edit]

Solar leasing[edit]

In 2008, SolarCity introduced a new solar lease option for homeowners that significantly reduces or eliminates the upfront cost of installing solar power.[13] SolarCity's solar lease can allow some homeowners to pay less each month, by adopting solar power, than they previously paid for electricity from the utility company.[14][15]

Commercial solar[edit]

SolarCity began more actively providing solar services to business, government, and non-profit customers in 2010. In May 2008, the company completed what was, at the time, the largest commercial solar installation in San Jose on the North Campus of eBay. That July, SolarCity completed what was then the largest commercial solar installation in San Francisco, for British Motors, consisting of 1,606 solar photovoltaic panels.[16][17] SolarCity introduced new financing options for businesses in 2009[18] and has built multiple solar projects for other large organizations including Walmart,[19][20] Intel,[21] and the U.S. military.[22] On March 21, 2013 SolarCity announced that it would open a new location in Nevada in cooperation with state government.[23]

Electric vehicle chargers[edit]

SolarCity entered the electric car charging business by buying the SolSource Energy business of Clean Fuel Connections, Inc., which was reported to be finalized in 2009[24] and has also announced a partnership with Rabobank to make electric car charging available for free to owners of Tesla Motors' vehicles traveling on U.S. Route 101 in California between San Francisco and Los Angeles. Other cars that can make use of the same charging technology are welcome.[25] In 2011, the company announced it would install electric car chargers that could charge a wide range of EVs in all of its service territories.[26][27]

Energy efficiency evaluations and retrofits[edit]

In 2010, SolarCity acquired Building Solutions, a software-enabled home energy audit firm, and began to offer energy efficiency evaluations and upgrades such as air and duct sealing, efficient heating/cooling and lighting to its list of services.[28] SolarCity worked with Admiral's Bank of Boston in March 2012 to make a new loan available to finance energy efficiency improvements [29] and expanded its energy efficiency services to the east coast.[30]

SolarStrong project[edit]

SolarStrong is SolarCity's five-year plan to build more than $1 billion in solar photovoltaic projects for privatized military housing communities across the United States, announced in late 2011.[31] SolarCity plans to work with the country's leading privatized military housing developers to install, own and operate rooftop solar installations and provide solar electricity at a lower cost than utility power. SolarStrong is ultimately expected to create up to 300 megawatts of solar generation capacity that could provide power to as many as 120,000 military housing units, which would make it the largest residential photovoltaic project in American history if completed. In November 2011, SolarCity and Bank of America Merrill Lynch announced that they have agreed to terms on initial debt financing for SolarStrong.[32]

Project financing and the Google Fund[edit]

SolarCity partners with banks, large corporations and the asset-backed[33] market to create project finance funds to finance its lease and PPA (Power Purchase Agreement) options. SolarCity's financing partners have included Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, Citi, Morgan Stanley, National Bank of Arizona and U.S. Bancorp, among others.[34][full citation needed] Among SolarCity's more well-known financing partnerships was a $280 million fund created with Google to finance residential solar installations in June 2011. The Google Fund was the largest fund of its kind in the U.S., and Google's largest investment in clean energy.[35]

Recently, securitization has been proposed and used to accelerate development of solar photovoltaic projects by providing access to capital.[36][37] SolarCity offered the first U.S. asset-backed security in the solar industry in 2013.[38]


In June 2014, SolarCity announced plans to build a new manufacturing facility in Buffalo, New York in coordination with the SUNY Polytechnic Institute after acquiring Silevo, a maker of high-efficiency solar modules. With a planned capacity of one gigawatt of solar panels annually, the new plant would be the largest solar plant in the U.S. and would compete head-to-head with Chinese manufacturers.[39] Groundbreaking for the project occurred in September 2014 with a target completion date of early 2016. [40]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Management Team at SolarCity". Retrieved 2014-03-15. 
  2. ^ Annual report for year-ending December 31, 2012
  3. ^ Sweet, Cassandra; Tracy, Ryan (2013-05-06). "Solar Installer Sues for U.S. Grant Funds". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2013-08-11. 
  4. ^ Solarcity Time Magazine, April 17, 2008.
  5. ^ Newsmaker: Elon Musk on rockets, sports cars, and solar power,, Michael Kanellos, February 15, 2008.
  6. ^ Is the SolarCity Model the Only Way to Scale Residential Solar?,, Nicole Litvak, March 31, 2014.
  7. ^ Solar Power World
  8. ^ "Solar panels in California". SolarCity. Retrieved 2014-06-19. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Contact Solar City - Regional Offices". Solar City. 
  10. ^ SolarCity opens second Colorado location in Parker, Heather Sackett, May 5, 2011.
  11. ^ "SolarCity opens New Jersey operations center". 2012-02-23. 
  12. ^ Segall, Eli (15 May 2013). "Why a solar panel company is moving into a mall and a business group moved out". Vegas Inc. Retrieved 18 December 2013. 
  13. ^ "Solar power for less than your cable bill | Environment Forum". 2008-04-24. Retrieved 2011-10-15. 
  14. ^ Earnest, John (2008-09-27). "> News > North County - Leasing a solar-power system". Retrieved 2011-10-15. 
  15. ^ Sistek, Hanna (2008-07-18). "SolarCity provides SF power below grid price | Green Tech - CNET News". Retrieved 2011-10-15. 
  16. ^ SolarCity Completes Largest Commercial Solar Installation in San Francisco for British Motors
  17. ^ [1]
  18. ^ "Startpage | 404 - SolarServer". Retrieved 2014-03-15. 
  19. ^ Francisco, San (2011-09-21). "SolarCity to put solar on 60 more California Wal-Mart stores". 
  20. ^ "SolarCity to install solar panel & battery combo for Walmarts". Aug 7, 2012. 
  21. ^ "Intel To Install 6 Acre Solar Installation in CA | Solar Energy". Retrieved 2014-03-15. 
  22. ^ "". Retrieved 2014-03-15. 
  23. ^ "SolarCity Corp : SolarCity to Expand to Nevada | 4-Traders". Retrieved 2014-03-15. 
  24. ^ "SolarCity Installs Electric Car Chargers Along Cal Highway : Greentech Media". Retrieved 2014-03-15. 
  25. ^ "SolarCity Installs Electric Car Chargers Along Cal Highway". Greentech Media. 2009-09-22. Retrieved 2011-10-15. 
  26. ^ VentureBeat. "Solar-leasing startup SolarCity sells subsidized electric car chargers."
  27. ^ CNET. "SolarCity to offer solar-powered EV chargers."
  28. ^ "Solar City Adds Energy Efficiency to Solar Finance, Design and Monitoring". Greentech Media. 2010-10-14. Retrieved 2011-10-15. 
  29. ^ "SolarCity Charges Into Home Efficiency With Admirals Bank : Greentech Media". Retrieved 2014-03-15. 
  30. ^ Time. 2012-03-28 |url= missing title (help). 
  31. ^ Cardwell, Diane (2011-11-30). "SolarCity Wins Financing for Military Housing Plan". The New York Times. 
  32. ^ "SolarCity and Bank of America Merrill Lynch Move Forward With Project SolarStrong, Expected to Build More Than $1 Billion in Solar Projects". Marketwatch. 30 November 2011. 
  33. ^ SolarCity Announces Proposed Securitization Company press release, 4 November 2013
  34. ^ "10_SolarCity | Fast Company | Business + Innovation". Retrieved 2014-03-15. 
  35. ^ "Google invests $280 million in SolarCity". CNN. 2011-06-14. 
  36. ^ T. Alafita and J.M. Pearce, "Securitization of residential solar photovoltaic assets: Costs, risks and uncertainty", Energy Policy, 67, pp. 488–498 (2014). DOI: open access
  37. ^ Lowder, T., & Mendelsohn, M. (2013). The Potential of Securitization in Solar PV Finance.
  38. ^ "Done Deal: The First Securitization Of Rooftop Solar Assets" Forbes - URL:
  39. ^ Gold, Russel (17 June 2014). "SolarCity Buys Silevo, a Module Maker". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2014-06-19. 
  40. ^ "SolarCity investing $5B in Buffalo, creating 3,000 jobs". 23 September 2014. Retrieved 2014-09-24. 

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