Sunrise brief: SunPower aims for growth as it retires debt to enhance its flexibility


SunPower Corp. said it has further delevered its balance sheet with the full retirement of its 2021 convertible bond.

The company said the repayment of the 2021 convertible bond, in addition to the repayment of a CEDA loan in the second quarter, reduces its recourse debt and improves its expected return on invested capital. It said that its balance sheet now provides flexibility to allow it to capitalize on growth opportunities, including expanding its residential market footprint.

AB 1139 fails in a vote

A bill that could potentially cripple California’s residential solar market failed to pass the State Assembly in a vote on June 2. It could come up for a reconsideration vote on Thursday.

The bill, AB 1139, would make major changes to net metering in the state. Its author, San Diego Assembly member Lorenza Gonzalez, said that subsidizing solar owners raises rates on others, which she calls unfair.

The bill has gained nationwide attention and is broadly opposed by solar and clean energy advocates.

The California Solar and Storage Association said it was pleased that the Assembly rejected AB 1139, which it called a  “utility profit grab bill.” The association said the legislature “saw through the smokescreen of negativity” as an effort by the state’s investor-owned utilities to “change the rules in their favor” so they can “profit off the energy created by solar consumers and eliminate a growing competitor in the energy market.”

Say hello to Ryan Kennedy!

Ryan Kennedy has joined pv magazine USA as associate editor. He is based in Massachusetts, and has worn several hats in the solar industry, ranging from manufacturing operations support, outreach, home solar sales, and site surveying. He has also worked at the residential, commercial, and industrial levels.

Ryan Kennedy

His education is in management with a focus in Sustainable Business Practices from the Isenberg School of Management. He is currently working on his Master’s in Energy and Environmental Management at the University of Connecticut.

He says, “As someone who is fond of the great outdoors and the beauty of natural resources, I am wholly motivated by the fight for climate resiliency. The energy revolution plays a central role in this fight.”

In his spare time you’ll find him hiking, playing the drums, and cheering on the Boston Bruins. Ryan may be reached at

Green hydrogen investment

Monolith Materials said it received new investments from investors led by South Koreas-based SK Inc. and including NextEra Energy Resources and Perry Creek Capital. This round included additional investment from Azimuth Capital Management, Cornell Capital, and Warburg Pincus.

Olive Creek 1 in Hallam, Nebraska is Monolith Materials’ first commercial-scale production facility designed to produce approximately 14,000 metric tons of carbon black annually along with “green” hydrogen.

Monolith said it plans to collaborate with SK on expanding global markets and work with NextEra on North America growth opportunities.

Monolith Materials was founded in 2012 and developed a process technology that uses renewable energy to convert natural gas into hydrogen and a solid carbon material called carbon black, a raw material in the automotive and industrial sectors. The company is currently in the operating stage of its first commercial-scale production facility in Nebraska. The company recently announced its plans to produce ammonia at a second-phase production facility nearby.

In January, SK invested about $1.6 billion in Plug Power, a provider of hydrogen fuel cell and fueling solutions, and specified its partnership to enter the Asian hydrogen market.

Blue hydrogen venture

Bakken Energy and Mitsubishi Power Americas signed a partnership agreement to develop a “blue” hydrogen hub in North Dakota. It would include facilities to produce, store, transport, and consume hydrogen, and would be connected by pipeline to other hydrogen hubs being developed across North America.

Blue hydrogen is derived from natural gas with the carbon dioxide emissions captured and sequestered.

Bakken Energy is working with Basin Electric Power Cooperative and its Dakota Gasification unit on the potential redevelopment of the Great Plains Synfuels Plant near Beulah, North Dakota. The goal is to make the facility one of the largest producers of blue hydrogen in North America. The project is in due diligence, and specific details are confidential until that phase is complete.

The synfuels plant has been buffeted in recent years by low natural gas prices. Last fall, Basin Electric’s directors approved a 10-year forecast that projected net losses of about $63 million at the synfuels plant for each year of the forecast. The index that Basin uses to sell natural gas indicated prices below $3/dekatherm through 2026. Pricing for urea, ammonia, and diesel exhaust fluid also were forecast to be flat, impacting the plant’s product output.

Meanwhile, revenues for the plant during the forecast period averaged $452 million annually, around $60 million less than was forecast in 2019. About 70% of the plant’s revenue comes from products other than natural gas.

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