Author: Robert Walton      Published:  August 20, 2019       Utility Dive

Dive Brief:

  • Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced on Twitter Sunday that the company has “relaunched” its solar division and will offer to rent rooftop panels to homeowners in six states, starting at $50/month for a 3.8 kW system.
  • The company plans to offer panels for rent in Southwest states that get a lot of sun throughout the year, like California, Arizona and New Mexico, and East Coast states with clean energy goals, like Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Jersey.
  • Tesla bought SolarCity in 2016, when it was the leading solar installer in the United States. Since the $2.6 billion acquisition, the company has lost market share as installations declined.

Dive Insight:

Tesla is looking for ways to reverse its declining solar market share. The company installed 6.3% of the U.S. residential solar capacity in the first quarter of 2019 — falling into third place, behind Sunrun’s 11% market share and Vivint Solar’s 7.6% share, according to WoodMackenzie.

Musk announced the relaunch with typical bombast.

“With the new lower Tesla pricing, it’s like having a money printer on your roof if you live a state with high electricity costs,” Musk tweeted. “Still better to buy, but the rental option makes the economics obvious.”

A simple online form allows a customer to choose from three sizes of systems: 3.8 kW, 7.6 kW and and 11.4 kW. The company charges no installation fee and does not require a long-term contract, but requires a $100 fee for signing up. Tesla says removing the panels will cost $1,500.

Tesla did not respond to questions about the relaunch, including whether the company would utilize its delayed “solar roof” product.

Tesla announced the solar roof more than two years ago, but has never rolled out the product at scale. The high-end panels are designed to look like traditional roofing materials, while working to tie together Tesla’s corporate strategy of linking energy storage, solar and transportation electrification.

All told, customers of 20 utilities will be able to take advantage of Tesla’s solar rental offering.

(Credit: Tesla)

Tesla says its residential batteries can be added via purchase, but not by rental.

“At this time, Powerwall cannot be added to the rental agreement,” the company says on its web site. “However, you can buy Powerwall and we will install at the same time. There is tremendous value in adding Powerwall to your solar rental since it provides backup power and greater energy independence.”