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Published on February 5th, 2014 | by Zachary Shahan


Sunrun Acquires REC Solar’s Residential Business, AEE Solar, & SnapNrack — What That Means

February 5th, 2014 by  

REC_Solar_Home_2There are a handful of major players in the residential solar business — SolarCity, Vivint Solar, Sungevity, and of course Sunrun. In the past year, we’ve seen several major acquisitions by some of these top players. Late yesterday, Sunrun announced a big one — actually, 3 all at once. The solar startup announced that it had acquired the residential divisions of REC Solar, AEE Solar, and SnapNrack.

However, as you might expect, all of these companies are connected. “The companies represent Mainstream Energy’s residential solar sales, design and installation; wholesale distribution; and mounting systems and hardware businesses, respectively,” the Sunrun news release notes. REC Solar itself is/was a major residential solar company. “In 17 years of business, REC Solar has installed more than 11,000 homeowner systems nationwide.” REC Solar was one of the top five residential solar installers in the 3rd quarter of 2013, according to GTM Research. And, actually, back in 2010 it was essentially tied with SolarCity at the top. Notably, REC Solar was Sunrun’s first installation partner — a partnership that dates back 7 years to 2007.

Then, of course, AEE Solar and SnapNrack are notable solar technology distribution and manufacturing businesses. This acquisition by Sunrun really represents a few things in the solar industry: 1) the industry continues to consolidate as it matures (natural, expected), 2) vertical integration is a big trend right now, 3) residential solar companies are keen to find ways to bring down the soft costs of solar.

If you look at this residential solar finance taxonomy GTM Research put together last year, you can see how this acquisition fills in a few gaps and puts Sunrun on more equal, integrated footing to SolarCity, Vivint Solar, and Sungevity:


“REC Solar is the industry leader in customer satisfaction and high quality construction, while AEE Solar and SnapNrack bring capabilities that allow us to make solar energy affordable for more consumers, provide superior systems and service, and lay the foundation to become a major energy company,” Lynn Jurich, Chief Executive Officer of Sunrun, said.

In an email sent to CleanTechnica, Joe Miller, a solar industry expert and Solar Universe executive, further commented on what this acquisition means more broadly:

Today’s acquisition is proof that the solar industry linchpin is not merely financing, but also downstream installation and customer support. We have developed the SolarUniverse brand around delivering on the customer experience from start to finish. This acquisition is more evidence that this part of the business is what will shape the future of solar.

There is no question that today’s Sunrun announcement will shake up the solar market. The question is less about who will control solar and more about who is going to increase consumer access. At this point, solar investors should be paying close attention to where the nucleus of the market lies and look for opportunities to get engaged where the business most closely serves consumers.

Great commentary. The residential solar market today is certainly world’s different from what it was 2 or 3 years ago. But we can also see that solar companies that excelled in their particular niches continue to grow, and are now leading us into new frontiers.

“Mainstream Energy and Sunrun have always been perfectly aligned in focusing on customers, maintaining high quality and driving down costs,” said Paul Winnowski, CEO of Mainstream Energy Corp. “Combining our capabilities deepens our relationship and strengthens our shared vision for greater adoption of home solar by more families across the country.”

Top Image Credit: Sunrun 
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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) one letter at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor. Otherwise, he's probably enthusiastically fulfilling his duties as the director/editor of EV Obsession, Gas2, Solar Love, Planetsave, or Bikocity; or as president of Important Media. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, energy storage, and wind energy expert. If you would like him to speak at a related conference or event, connect with him via social media:, .

  • Solar guy

    Good info here. By the way, Vivint Solar is currently in California, New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Hawaii, Maryland, and has been in those markets for quite some time (a couple years or more)–and they are expanding into Connecticut and Arizona, among other places.

  • Wayne Williamson

    What is it about the southeast that makes it act like an anti renewable anything….
    Although I’m pretty sure I read some positive stuff coming out of Georgia….It doesn’t show on this map…

    • Bob_Wallace

      It’s largely some of that “proud to be a redneck” anti-hippie attitude.
      If the left is for it, then is must be opposed.

      • A Real Libertarian

        “It’s largely some of that “proud to be a redneck” anti-hippie attitude. If the left is for it, then is must be opposed.”

        Given the origins of the term “redneck”…

        That’s hilariously ironic.

        • Bob_Wallace

          The Southern Republican party is, to a large extent, redneck. That’s who Nixon brought into the party with his Southern Strategy.

          With Democrats starting to support equal rights for minorities the Republicans opened the doors wide for bigots. Some (don’t know the percentage) of the more tolerant, better educated Republicans left the party.

          In a few years the Republican party, in the South, moved from Mr. Lincoln’s party to the Rebel party. The Republican party/right wingers became anti-intellectual and started opposing anything to do with protecting the environment.

          • A Real Libertarian

            Redneck originally referred to union organizers in the mines of West Virginia, from the kerchiefs they wore around their necks.

            Yes, that Red.

            And Appalachia was always the most anti-Confederacy part of those states.

            That’s how West Virginia was formed, secession from the secessionists.

            Large parts of Kentucky and Tennessee were occupied by Confederate troops to prevent them from following.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Yes, I grew up in East Tennessee. Two of my great great uncles died in the Confederate army prison at Andersonville. They were part of the Union troops formed up in East Tennessee.

            East Tennessee was an area of small farmers. The land didn’t lend itself to large plantations and there were few slaves. If anything the locals were opposed to slavery because it kept down prices.

            Rednecks were always farmers in my part of the woods. My uncle who did the most farming had a very red neck and it had nothing to do with his political leanings.

            The word redneck was in use prior to the miner labor organization movement.

          • A Real Libertarian

            So anytime these assholes start blathering on about tradition, remind them they’re shaming their ancestors.

  • JamesWimberley

    The upside to customers of consolidation and vertical integration is the prospect of lower costs through standardisation, and better warranties and after-sales service through greater survival chances of the suppliers. The downside is loss of flexibility and choice, and the risk of price-gouging if consolidation goes too far. On the whole, a good deal. Solar panels are pretty similar so restricting choice is not a big issue.

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