Clean Power

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) with the power of the typed word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession, Solar Love, and Bikocity. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in.

  • 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.

      • Benjamin Coats

        Totally incorrect. The reason there is little to no solar getting done in the southwest is simple economics. Irradiation levels are much lower in the Southeast than the southwest and electricity prices are among the lowest in the US making solar noncompetitive

        • Bob_Wallace

          Not “much” lower, modestly lower. In the 10% range.

          Yes, lower prices make wind and solar less competitive. Build some more nuclear and that will change. ;o)

          This is a two year old conversation. In the last two years solar prices have fallen a lot. Resistance to solar has decreased, there’s now a Green Tea Party pushing solar.

          And we’ve discovered that the SE has decent wind resources if taller wind hub heights are use.

          • Benjamin Coats

            low enough to make it not work.

          • Bob_Wallace

            You might want to look at state electricity prices. Some in the SE are not all that low.


            Retail electricity in Oklahoma is only 9.98 cents per kWh yet Oklahoma is finding it very attractive to install lots of wind. Solar is on route to becoming less expensive than wind. As wind and solar prices continue to fall I think you’ll see “will work”.

          • Benjamin Coats

            The point is that solar is installed where it makes sense i.e. the southwest. Yes Oklahoma is windy so it makes sense to install wind and that is happening because the economics make sense. It’s not an anti-hippie attitude that is making these determinations its whether the costs are competitive. Obviously as the price of solar decreases it will make more sense to install it in more areas.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I was born and raised in the SE. I still have family living there.

            There is most definitely a strong “anti-hippie”, anti-left attitude among many.

            FPL is still pushing to build more nuclear. Utility scale solar would be half the cost in Florida.

          • Benjamin Coats

            I am sure there are anti hippies but thats not what stops solar in the SE its costs. Arizona has plenty of solar they are about as right as you get. Oklahoma as you pointed out is doing wind. When the economics make sense things get built.

          • Benjamin Coats

            Your link and numbers prove my point. The costs of electricity in the Southeast are much lower than the rest of the country.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Georgia prices are higher than the national median. South Carolina are only slightly below. Florida and Alabama are only a half penny below the median.

            (Hummm, wonder what is being built in those first two states that has caused electricity prices to rise?)

            The important point is that the prices of wind and solar are falling. Renewable are making sense in more and more states.

          • Benjamin Coats

            11 cent average compared to 18 cent average in New England. I would say that’s pretty significant. Agree that renewables are making more sense, but reality is they are a long way off from being competitive enough to replace traditional sources of power.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Benjamin, the media retail price of electricity in July 2015, the most recent month for which we have data, was 12.6c/kWh.

            Now I don’t feel like taking time to do the math at the moment, but it could well be that solar would make more sense in some SE states with their 11+ c costs and higher solar insolation than in New England with 18 c/kWh prices and lower insolation.

            Arizona is installing a lot of solar and their cost of electricity is only 12.8 cents. Less than Georgia’s cost and only 0.3 cents higher than South Carolina.

  • 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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