Unlike other residential installers like Sunrun and Tesla Energy, which raise project-level debt to support solar deployment, Sunnova funds projects off its own balance sheet. The company also engineers projects in its corporate headquarters in Houston, but farms its installations to a thoroughly vetted team of regional and local installers, which provides homeowners with installation teams familiar with local regulations and conditions.
As pv magazine reported last year, Tesla (then SolarCity) raised $692 million by September 2016 to fund residential and commercial projects, while Sunrun had raised $245 million by June 2016.
Sunnova says the new cash will fund recent programs like its PowerStack, its solar+storage residential service, and expanding its solar ownership finance product to additional state and entering new markets like its home state of Texas.
“Sunnova is an established player in renewables and has been steadily increasing its market share over the years,” said Mike Lorusso, managing director of CIT’s Energy Finance group. “Their business model created an ideal opportunity to add an energy leader to our investment portfolio.”
“Today’s announcement should send a clear message: The future of solar is now, and that momentum for change is propelling us forward,” said Sunnova CEO William J. Berger. “Customers are beginning to realize they have a choice. That choice is not only cleaner but more affordable.”
In light of the recent bankruptcies of other major residential installers like Sungevity, American Solar Direct and HelioPower, the ability of the remaining national players to raise funds is critical to keep the solar industry moving forward.