Tesla to withdraw South Carolina solar presence

The U.S. residential solar market is undergoing significant changes. With net metering policies being altered if not removed outright and a saturation of the early adopter demographic in leading markets including California, the approach of leading residential solar companies is also changing.

As the latest sign of this, Tesla is closing its office in Charleston, South Carolina, which it attributes to a shift from door-to-door sales to an emphasis on retail. The EV and battery maker has begun offering residential solar in its stores, and in April announced that it would no longer go door-to-door.

As such, Tesla says that will either re-assign its employees in Charleston, or give them an offer to interview for other positions “that will help support our expanded retail efforts and the delivery of new solar products and Powerwalls across the country.”

The company also says that it will complete installations of all contracted customers and will provide operations support through its other regional offices, and even suggested that it might return to South Carolina in the future.

The move by Tesla comes as South Carolina is becoming the latest Southern state to grow a significant solar market. Citing its in-state tax credit, GTM Research has told pv magazine that it expects South Carolina to become a top-10 residential solar market this year, and it is the only other state in the Deep South where both Sunrun and Vivint Solar have a presence.

However, it also comes as Tesla is scaling back its solar expansion through SolarCity, with a greater focus on profitability instead. In its Q1 2017 results, Tesla reported a 30% decline in deployment compared with the prior year.