Vivint Solar CEO hints at future expansion plans

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The CEO of Vivint Solar, the US residential installer that raised US$330 million in its IPO last week, has hinted at the company’s potential path to expansion.

Speaking to PV Tech after the company was floated on the New York Stock Exchange, Greg Butterfield said that while the company had nothing to announce immediately, acquisitions, expansion beyond the single residence model and financing rounds via securitisation were all up for consideration.

“If you look at SolarCity they went public two years ago, they have PPAs, leases, they have done a convertible [bond], a couple of securitisations, which have proved to be a very effective way for them to fund the business. I would anticipate that we will do something similar,” he said, reiterating that there was nothing ready to unveil at this point.

The IPO prospectus said the company “may also use a portion of the net proceeds to acquire, license and invest in complementary products, technologies or businesses; however, we currently have no agreements or commitments to complete any such transaction”.

Butterfield said he didn’t want the company to try and serve all aspects of the solar value chain given that the sector is only at 1% penetration. He has also said the company is not interested in hardware acquisitions.

“Nor do we want to go and compete with the largest companies in each of the different product categories; for us to do modules would be a big distraction,” he told PV Tech.

SolarCity has recently confirmed plans to build a 1GW module factory in New York state after it acquired thin-film firm Silevo.

“I’m not sure we could invent a product that can’t be created by people overseas that have different economies for better pricing. If SolarCity proves that it works out well we’ll look at that and we certainly wouldn’t discourage anyone from being successful at advancing technology for the industry’s benefit,” said Butterfield.

The company did acquire shade analysis and system design tool maker Solmetric in January 2014.

The company has only targeted the residential sector and Butterfield said expanding this focus was not urgent but could not be ruled out.

“Right now the residential business is less than 1% penetrated. As you can see from our growth, we have done as much in the first six months of this year as we did in all of last year. There’s more demand than we can meet.

“That said, if there’s an opportunity in multi-tenant housing for example, that would be complementary to what we are doing and would not distract or take away from our financing or installation and sales teams then, once again nothing to announce, but we’ve done it in the past and we think it’s a great way to grow going forward. At the right time I would anticipate that you will see new routes for Vivint Solar,” added Butterfield.

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