By Eric Westoff
Solar installer and financier SolarCity has historically addressed the residential and small commercial market.
But SolarCity was just chosen by the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC) to construct a 14-megawatt (DC) solar photovoltaic power plant on land owned by Grove Farm. It’s a $40 million project that will use more than 50,000 panels on 67 acres of the tropical island. The project is still in the planning stages and won’t commence construction until mid-2013, pending regulatory approvals, so vendors and technologies have not yet been selected. It’s the first utility-scale deal won by SolarCity.
GTM Research Solar Analyst Andrew Krulewitz comments, “Continuing a trend that we’ve seen in SolarCity’s non-residential business, where systems have grown from ~50 kilowatts on average two years ago to the company now regularly connecting projects of one megawatt or more, it was only a matter of time before SolarCity tossed its hat in the utility-scale ring.” Krulewitz notes that 14 megawatts for $40 million works out to an installed cost of $2.85 per watt, which “isn’t bad, but it’s not industry-leading either.”
SolarCity is in its pre-IPO quiet period and is even less communicative than usual. Rob Day took a deep look at the solar installer and financier’s SEC paperwork here.