Sunrun to provide solar to Comcast customers

The national decline in residential solar installations during the first quarter of 2017 has been widely analyzed, including on pv magazine. And among factors including heavy rains in California and changing policies for compensation, one sticks out that is far thornier: that most of the “first adopter” demographic in key state markets has already signed up for solar.

This exhaustion of the easy customers is one of the driving forces behind a change in customer acquisition strategies, which has seen both Tesla and Vivint Solar scale back or abandon door-to-door sales entirely. As part of this, Tesla has begun selling solar through its Tesla stores and Vivint Solar has taken the tack of deepening its involvement with Vivint Smart Home, one of the many synergies with its former parent company that are possible.

Sunrun, as an independent solar installer, has no such relationships with a larger parent involved in other product lines. Instead, Sunrun is busy building relationships with outside companies to advance its sales. And today, it landed perhaps its biggest fish yet in the form of Comcast, one of the nation’s top cable and internet providers, with $80 billion in 2016 revenue.

Under the exclusive deal, Sunrun will serve as the exclusive solar provider for Comcast, who will begin marketing the company’s rooftop solar services to its customers “in selected states” later this year. This follows on a one-year pilot program through which Comcast offered Sunrun’s BrightSave solar lease product to its customers.

“We believe the residential solar industry will continue to expand over the next decade as consumers look for more cost-efficient, independent and cleaner alternatives for their energy,” noted Comcast Managing Director and GM of New Businesses Jon Kaplowitz.

This may be more of a natural evolution for Comcast than it first appears. Sunrun notes that Comcast already offers customers smart home options, including energy management, through its Xfinity Home Service.

Of course, Comcast will also receive payments for the new customers that it brings to Sunrun, and may earn a warrant on up to 10% of the company’s outstanding common shares, as long as at least 30,000 customers sign up for Sunrun’s service.