First Solar, Inc., SunPower Corporation Plan To Raise $50M In 8point3 IPO


First Solar and SunPower announced Tuesday that their joint venture 8point3 Energy Partners LP has filed for an IPO. The two companies are looking to raise $50 million through the offering, according to the regulatory filing. First Solar said the joint venture will own large scale projects as well as residential rooftop solar systems.

First Solar-SunPower YieldCo to have 432MW of projects

Last month, rivals First Solar and SunPower agreed to form a joint YieldCo vehicle that will own and operate solar generation assets from each company’s existing portfolio. Citigroup and Goldman Sachs are arranging the offering. The YieldCo will be listed on Nasdaq, but the companies did not disclose the number of shares to be listed.

The name 8point3 was derived from the average time it takes light from the Sun to reach the Earth, which is 8.3 minutes. According to the filing, 8point3 Energy Partners will hold 432MW in total capacity, with most of them in California and Maryland. Of that, First Solar is contributing 262MW and SunPower will contribute the remaining 170 megawatts.

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The new YieldCo will have stakes in six large solar farms, four of which are already operational while two are in late-stage development. It will also have 39MW of rooftop solar arrays on 5,900 homes. The filing says First Solar and SunPower plan to add more projects to 8point3’s portfolio in the future. For the first two years, SunPower will pick 8point3’s CEO while First Solar will supply CFO. The companies will then switch their management roles.

YieldCos gaining popularity among investors

YieldCos are attractive to investors as they provide steady dividends to shareholders. Last year, SunEdison took its YieldCo, TerraForm Solar, public in a $500 million IPO. Other renewable energy companies such as NRG Energy and Abengoa have also formed YieldCos. First Solar and SunPower are pitching their YieldCo to investors as a way to receive guaranteed dividends.

That’s because each of the project listed in 8point3’s portfolio has major utilities as long-term customers. Most of its customers have signed agreements to buy power from solar projects for up to 25 years.

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