Clean Power

Published on May 9th, 2014 | by Joshua S Hill


SolarCity Achieved Record Bookings Of 136 MW In 2014’Q1

May 9th, 2014 by  

Reporting on its financial results for the first fiscal quarter of 2014, SolarCity announced Monday that it had added their largest quarterly gain in customers, 17,664, pushing their total customers up to over 110,000.

SolarCity remain confident that they remain “firmly on track” to meet their one million customer target by mid-2018.

Amidst the many announcements in the company’s press release was note that the company achieved the high-end of guidance for both megawatts deployed as well as Operating Lease and Solar Energy Systems Incentive Revenue, as well as hitting a new quarterly record of 136 MW booked, up 34% as compared to 2013’Q4.

SolarCity proud themselves on “disrupting the century-old energy industry” by providing solar capacity directly to homeowners, businesses, and government organisations “for less than they spend on utility bills.”

Given the long-term nature of SolarCity contracts — which they estimate as being typically 20-years — the company rely on Estimated Nominal Contracted Payments as well as Retained Value, both of which saw increases. The company’s Operating Lease and Solar Energy Systems Incentive Revenue was up as well, growing by 93% from the same quarter 2013, from $15.1 million to $29.1 million.

There have been a rash of SolarCity stories over the past few years, highlighting their furious growth.

The beginning of 2014 saw incredible reports of growth throughout 2013, including this announcement from GTM Research which stated that SolarCity had taken 32% of US residential PV for the third quarter of 2013, with four times the market share of its closest rival.

A couple of months later SolarCity upped-the-ante for their competitors, announcing a partnership with Best Buy to set up shop in over 60 stores across the US. Staffed by SolarCity employees able to determine if your house is viable for solar, the in-store kiosks allow even better access to one of the fastest-growing renewable energy technologies available.

A happy-reporting accident found that SolarCity was one of the 10 top stock searches for 2013, while in May SolarCity announced that they would be moving into Nevada.

SolarCity expect their growth to continue through the second quarter of 2014, and well into 2015, increasing their confidence and subsequently their 2014-guidance to 500-550 MW deployed, up from prior guidance of between 475 – 525 MW. While that may sound an impressive growth, the company’s expectations for 2015 eclipse that, with guidance suggesting between 900 and 1,000 MW deployed for the year, which would represent a growth of 81% year-over-year at the midpoint.

If their own guidance is to be believed — which includes revenues in the seven-figures — SolarCity is definitely going to be upsetting the traditional energy balance in the US, and causing entrenched energy utilities a lot of headaches.

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I'm a Christian, a nerd, a geek, and I believe that we're pretty quickly directing planet-Earth into hell in a handbasket! I also write for Fantasy Book Review (, and can be found writing articles for a variety of other sites. Check me out at for more.

  • Ray Boggs

    On the surface, getting a solar system on your roof from a solar leasing company for no money out of pocket might seem like a great deal, but here are the facts behind this type of rental financing. When you sign that solar lease contract you’ll be forfeiting the 30% federal tax credit which can typically be worth about $3,500 to $10,000.

    You’ll also be forfeiting any applicable cash rebate or other financial incentives. After collecting both the 30% federal tax credit and any cash rebate, the leasing company will also apply accelerated depreciation. Despite applying all of the financial incentives, on a $0 down 20 year solar lease, the leasing company will then charge you 20 years worth of leasing payments that many times will include up to a 2.9% annual payment escalator that will raise your monthly payment, every year for twenty years.

    The leasing companies will try to convince you that a solar system requires a lot of maintenance and expensive insurance and costly monitoring when nothing could be further from the truth. Modern grid tie solar system require little to no maintenance and the bulk of any repairs are covered by the manufacturer’s and installer’s warranties. Solar panels and many inverters come standard with a 25 year warranty. Insurance can be added through your homeowner’s insurance policy with little to no increase in your premium and many solar systems come standard with built in, web based monitoring.

    The leasing companies will try to convince you that a purchased system requires a lot of upfront costs and that their rental financing is the only $0 down option in town, which again is not true. There are plenty of $0 down loans available that even offer tax deductible interest and require no upfront costs. Solar leases and PPAs do not offer tax deductible interest.

    The bottom line with insurance, repairs and monitoring is that a leased solar system will typically cost you up to three times more than a purchased solar system, so it is actually you who will be paying for these services, not the leasing company. The leasing companies will try to convince you that these services are free but with a system cost that’s triple that of a purchase, these services are absolutely not free.

    And good luck ever selling your home with a solar lease or PPA attached to it. What potential home buyer will want to buy your home and take over your lease payments on a used solar system when they can own a brand new system and keep the 30% federal tax credit for many thousands of dollars less than your remaining lease payments.

    What’s worse is that after paying 20 years worth of leasing payments that amount to triple the amount that you could have paid if you purchased your system instead, you won’t even own the solar system. It will still be the leasing company’s property. If you want to own it after paying your lease off, you will still need to buy it from the leasing company at fair market value. All this for only a 10 to 15% reduction in your electric bill. This is just the tip of the solar lease and PPA iceberg. For more information simply search the term solar lease disadvantages in any major search engine. There’s a lot you should consider before signing that airtight 20 year lease contract.

  • JamesWimberley

    The threat to SolarCity and leasers generally doesn’t come from utilities but from conventional banks and Fannie Mae. Once they start treating solar panels like windows as a normal part of a house or commercial building, and pricing loans like mortgages, the balance could swing sharply back to outright ownership.

    • LookingForward

      Which is not a bad thing for solar in general, I think solar will be like smart phones in the future, you either lease them, rent them or buy them. All 3 will be a booming business. The balance might swing, but SolarCity can still be the Apple or Samsung of the future, if everything goes right.

    • Offgridmanpolktn

      It can depend upon how you play the system, seven years ago my credit union had the same concerns about giving me loans for ‘unproven technology’. However four maxed out credit cards later after the install it was no problem to give me a fixed rate property loan to pay off the cards, fortunately within the one year no interest period that was offered for opening them.
      And actually the suggestion to do it this way came from one of the credit union. managers, ‘off the record’ of course. Another not intentional benefit being that doing this brought my good credit rating up over a hundred points to an excellent one.

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