The solar market remains in a state of flux with some firms expanding and others restructuring. Most recently, San Mateo, Calif.-based SolarCity, a solar power installer and service firm, says it will open a Hartford office to take advantage of incentive programs under Connecticut's newly created Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority (CEFIA) and the Conn. Dept. of Environmental Protection.
"Connecticut residents pay some of the highest electricity rates in the nation," says Ed Steins, Northeastern regional director of SolarCity, which has offices nationwide including New Jersey and New York. "We can give them the option to reduce these bills and do something positive for the environment at the same time."
SolarCity's services include financing through power purchase agreements, which allow the developer to sell electricity to buyers including businesses, institutions and utilities and allow buyers to avoid upfront equipment and installation costs.
The company is the latest solar industry player to target Connecticut, thanks largely to the state's new emphasis on renewable energy initiatives including the CEFIA program. CEFIA, which became effective last July and is the nation's first full-scale clean energy finance authority, leverages public and private funds to drive investments. Other firms tapping into the Connecticut market include San Diego-based developer Borrego Solar Systems, which has been eyeing the Connecticut market and is working on several projects in the state, says a company spokesperson.
Meanwhile, Energy Conversion Devices Inc. (ECD), Auburn Hills, MI, says it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and will put its United Solar Ovonic LLC (USO) laminates unit up for sale. USO also has filed for bankruptcy protection. The action follows other industry bankruptcy filings in the last year, including Freemont, Calif.-based Solyndra and Marlborough, Mass.-based Evergreen Solar.
Julian Hawkins, ECD president and CEO, says there is a "strong and sustainable commercial market" for USO's products, however. He blames ECD's "current capital structure and legacy costs" with preventing the unit from making the necessary investments for growth.