Leading residential solar installer SolarCity announced Wednesday that it has secured more than $350 million in investment funding from JPMorgan Chase. The fund will be used to support its rapidly-growing residential PV business in the United States. The latest funding deal follows a $170 million package that SolarCity struck with JPMorgan in 2013.
SolarCity hungry for growth
The financing makes it possible for SolarCity to install solar panels on thousands of American rooftops without any upfront cost to homeowners. Buyers pay less for solar power than they currently pay for utility bills. SolarCity has more than 36% share in the U.S. residential solar market. Its share is bigger than the market share of next 50 rivals combined.
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Last month, the San Mateo-based company signed a new investment deal with Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Merrill Lynch agreed to provide $400 million to finance SolarCity’s residential solar projects through 2015. Prior to that, Merrill Lynch had committed to financing an estimated $200 million in SolarCity’s commercial solar projects.
The Elon Musk-backed company has the largest in-house service footprint in the U.S. solar industry. It boasts of more than 65 operation centers in 15 states. Last month, SolarCity appointed Jon Carson as senior director for its Ambassador program. Carson is a former campaign strategist for President Barack Obama, with extensive expertise in grassroots-level campaign.
SolarCity’s Ambassador program could go viral
SolarCity expects Carson would use his political campaign tactics to influence consumers to shift to solar energy. The company’s Ambassador program rewards $250 credit to anyone who refers a friend or relative to sign up for SolarCity. Last month, the company relaunched its MySolarCity app to let customers better connect with one another and encourage their friends to adopt solar energy.
Carson believes the people-to-people ties could influence the decision-making of small groups and communities. The Ambassador program has the potential to go viral, bringing in thousands of new customers. SolarCity currently has more than 168,000 customers.
SolarCity shares jumped 1.54% to $50.26 at 11:56 AM EST on Wednesday.