US ROUND-UP: PSEG considers solar asset sale, Sunrun and SK E&S create joint venture


PSEG’s solar portfolio is spread across 17 US states. Image: PSEG.

A round-up of the latest news from the US, where New Jersey utility PSEG is considering offloading its solar business and Sunrun joins forces with SK E&S for “electrification venture”. 


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SunPower’s Maxeon Solar Technologies spin-off listed with SEC

4 August 2020: SunPower’s planned spin-off of its manufacturing operations, Maxeon Solar Technologies is nearing completion after the entity’s registration statement on Form 20-F was declared effective by the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

Maxeon shares are expected to commence trading on a standalone basis on the NASDAQ as of 27 August 2020.

Tom Werner, SunPower CEO, said the announcement marks a “significant milestone” for both Maxeon and SunPower.

“Upon completion of the transaction, including a significant investment and the recent close of debt and bank financing, Maxeon's sufficient capital will allow it to rapidly expand its international manufacturing footprint and downstream footprint,” he said.

SunPower said last year it would spin off most of its manufacturing operations into Maxeon, a Singapore-headquartered entity that is its exclusive supplier of solar panels.

In May, Chinese regulators endorsed the spin-off, paving the way for silicon wafer business Tianjin Zhonghuan Semiconductor to invest US$298 million of equity and secure a 28.8% initial stake in Maxeon.


Utility PSEG to explore strategic alternatives for 467MW of solar

31 July 2020: New Jersey utility Public Service Enterprise Group (PSEG) has announced it is exploring strategic alternatives for its 467MW Solar Source portfolio and more than 6,750MW of fossil generation located in New Jersey, Connecticut, New York and Maryland. The assets form part of the company’s PSEG Power subsidiary.

PSEG’s solar portfolio is spread across 17 states. In an earnings call last week, CEO Ralph Izzo said the utility is looking “to focus more of our green and carbon-free attributes in the mid-Atlantic region”.

While the company is in the preliminary stage of the evaluation, the marketing of a potential transaction in one or a series of steps, anticipated to launch in Q4, is expected to be completed 2021. The move is intended to accelerate PSEG’s transformation into a primarily regulated electric and gas utility.

The firm intends to retain ownership of PSEG Power’s existing nuclear fleet, which it says “is necessary for New Jersey to meet its long-term carbon reduction goals”.

Izzo added: “A separation of the non-nuclear assets would reduce overall business risk and earnings volatility, improve our credit profile and enhance an already compelling ESG position.”

PSEG is currently evaluating potential investments in offshore wind and expects to make a decision on whether to invest in Ørsted’s Ocean Wind project – located off the coast of New Jersey – later this year. 


Sunrun and SK E&S to form joint venture with US$150m investment

29 July 2020: Sunrun and SK E&S, a subsidiary of South Korean conglomerate SK Group, have co-invested in a new joint venture that will conduct research to accelerate the adoption of renewables and the transition to a connected and distributed energy system.

The “electrification venture” will have an initial contribution of US$150 million, with SK E&S and other affiliated companies investing US$75 million in cash and Sunrun investing US$65 million in cash and advisory services valued at US$10 million. 

Using Sunrun’s existing home solar and battery business as a starting place for establishing customer relationships, the new company will initially target the US residential market, and it expects to expand internationally over time.

“Our partnership with SK Group will help pave the way for a future where energy consumers have a completely electrified home that is powered by more reliable, local, affordable and clean energy from Sunrun’s rechargeable solar battery systems,” said Lynn Jurich, CEO and co-founder of Sunrun.

SK E&S also announced it will purchase US$75 million of Sunrun common stock.

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