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

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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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Zachary Shahan

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