Saturday, November 23, 2013

RiverBend, Buffalo, New York, Cuomo, SolarCity, SCTY; Timeline


[Chronological updates are below; latest update: 8/4/2017]

7/2012

Treasury inspector general issues subpoenas to SolarCity asking them to justify use of federal funds received under Obama's stimulus bill; if they over-charged for solar energy installation completed under the program.

Justice Department Civil Division joins the Treasury Department probe.

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4/2/2013

Louis Ciminelli donates $15,000 to Governor Cuomo

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10/25/2013

A group of Buffalo business executives that include Louis Ciminelli under the name of 43 x 79 donates $25,000 to Governor Cuomo.

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11/19/2013

Governor Cuomo boards private jet from NYC to Buffalo for fundraiser at Hyatt Regency.

Louis Ciminelli hosts Cuomo "high-roller" donors at Bacchus Restaurant.

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11/21/2013

Governor Cuomo announces $1.7 billion RiverBend project.

Governor Cuomo commits $225 million for Fremont, CA companies Soraa and Silevo to locate in Buffalo, NY.

The proposed solar panel facility would be an anchor to the yet to be developed RiverBend clean-energy hub in South Buffalo.

Soraa and Silevo commit $750 M each for the Buffalo project and pledge to hire 850 employees.

Soraa:
founded 2008
makes LED lights
250 employees
financing raised: $100 M

Silevo:
founded 2007
makes solar panels
200 employees
financing raised: $72 M
has yet to turn a profit

Sorra and Silevo have a combined workforce of 450 employees and have raised $172 M in financing over five years.

Remarkably, we are told that these two companies will raise $1.5 Billion to finance a Buffalo project that will create 850 jobs.

When Buffalo News reporter Jerry Zremski asked the Governor about the plausibility of such a project he was admonished and dismissed for being "cynical."

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12/2013

Silevo generated a net loss of approximately $18.8 million for its fiscal year ended December 28, 2013.

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12/9-10/2013

LPCiminelli, McGuire, and Uniland submit bids for RiverBend project.

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1/6/2014

Ciminelli donates $25,000 to Governor Cuomo campaign.

1/9/2014

Ann Louise Ciminelli contributes $4,200 to Governor Cuomo campaign.

1/13/2014

Cuomo campaign refunds $4,200 to Ciminelli.

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1/28/2014

Uniland is informed it is out of the running for the RiverBend construction contract. 
Of the bidding firms, Uniland executives including owner Carl Montante had given the least contributions of all the bidders to the Governor Cuomo campaign; $34,000. 
 
1/28/2014

New York State awards LPCiminelli with the $900 million RiverBend construction contract.
Louis Ciminelli had given Cuomo $121,500, the largest he has given any other political candidate by far.

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4/2014

SolarCity sells bonds worth $70.2 million.

For the Second Quarter 2014 SolarCity posted:

Net Profit Margin:   -144.23%
Operating Margin:   -121.12%
Return on Assets:     -11.69%
Return on Equity:     -31.48%
Workforce:                 4,312

At the end of the second quarter, the company had $577.1 million in cash, $238.6 million in long-term debt, $230 million in convertible senior debts, and $49.8 million in solar asset-backed notes. Going forward, the company has to repay debt worth $1 million this year and $100 million by next year.

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5/2014

New York State purchases 88 acres of land from the Buffalo Urban Development Corp. for $2.5 million.

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5/29/2014

Louis Ciminelli's LLC Highland Park Village donates $25,000 to Governor Cuomo.

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6/2014

SolarCity Corp of San Mateo, CA acquires Silevo for $200 M in stock with the potential for another $150 M in additional payments if certain performance targets are met.

SolarCity's chairman is Elon Tusk, founder and CEO of Tesla Motors. 

SolarCity's CEO Lyndon Rive is Elon Musk’s cousin (Musk also serves as the company’s chairman).

Chris Beitel, Silevo's executive vice president, claims that instead of the 475 jobs promised, there will now be "well over 1,000 jobs" created at a factory that will now be five times as big as originally planned.

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The California-based solar panel provider collects for itself tax subsidies intended for its consumers, who are left vulnerable to sudden spikes in their electricity bills.
SolarCity is one of many solar firms that relies almost entirely on government handouts and credits to generate profit--exploiting loopholes to pocket federal tax breaks intended for homeowners who install solar panels. Though not technically illegal, companies that employ business models of this nature engage in the worst type of cronyism, simultaneously pocketing taxpayer money while leaving their customers with needlessly high energy bills.
The Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC), a longstanding federal program that was expanded in 2008, allows homeowners who install solar panels to write off 30 percent of the costs, in an effort to encourage Americans to go green.
Most solar panel customers purchase a panel and receive the tax credit without fanfare, but SolarCity offers 20-year leases on its panels instead of selling them. Because the company retains ownership of the panels even after they are fixed on customers’ roofs, it can take advantage of a loophole in the ITC and deny the customer of his tax credit. SolarCity pockets the 30 percent tax break every time it installs a panel, and has milked the federal government out of $411 million--on top of more than $10 million in funds from the stimulus, and untold state-level subsidies.
This loophole has paid off for SolarCity, but its customers have gotten the raw end of the deal. Deprived of the tax credit available to customers of most other solar companies, these clients are also locked into 20-year leases, regardless of how well their solar panels work. And as is so often the case with “clean” energy, the panels don’t always work as intended--some California customers have seen a nearly 50 percent spike in their utility bills, contrary to SolarCity’s promises of major savings.
Yet however frustrated customers may be, paying higher rates for inefficient energy and not seeing a nickel in tax breaks, there’s nothing they can do about it until their 20-year lease expires. And SolarCity has no reason to alter what is a very lucrative status quo--collecting hundreds of millions from the federal government is hardly new to SolarCity’s leadership. The company’s founder, Elon Musk, is also CEO of Tesla Motors, an electric car company that has been almost entirely dependent on government loans, handouts, and tax breaks. Tesla used a $465 million federal loan--considerably more than it raised from private investors or from its IPO--to get off the ground. It also took a $10 million grant from the state of California and relies on tax credits to sell its cars and occasionally turn meager profits.

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SolarCity has been criticized for inflating installation costs in order to receive larger tax subsidies.  If a panel installation costs $6 per watt they record $9 per watt which means they get an extra 90 cents per what in credits; 50% more than they are entitled to. 
Many investors are predicting an inevitable backlash.

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SolarCity's 2013 sales were $164 M resulting in a loss of $1.69 per stock share (SCTY).

Estimates for SolarCity's 2014 EPS is -$3.92.

Earning for Q1 2014 compared with Q1 of 2013 is down 78.26%.

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7/2014

SolarCity raises $201.5 million by offering $160 million in senior debt and $41.5 million in junior notes.

EYP Architecture & Engineering, the biggest architecture firm in Albany, has been designated by Cuomo to design the RiverBend project - no details of the bidding process or price was given.

SolarCity executives are seeking additional state aid to because of their expanded factory plans.

SolarCity's panel systems typically require hefty federal tax subsidies - a 30% tax subsidy that expires at the end of 2016 - to be financially viable.

New projects at the site must comply with state requirements that at least 20% of the contractors be minority or women owned businesses, that minorities and women must comprise at least 25% and 5% of the construction workforce.
The state will purchase and own equipment that the companies will use, local colleges and universities will have access to the facilities, equipment and partnerships.

After SolarCity acquired Silevo this year in June, development of the solar factory became less likely. However, the state of New York increased its investment in the project by three times to $750 million as SolarCity came on board and promised to create more jobs than the 425 permanent jobs Silevo had initially promised.

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8/2014

Department of Labor initiates a probe to determine if SCTY violated labor laws and regulations.

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9/2014

SolarCity reveales plans to raise $500 million through its fourth debt offering, in less than 12 months. The convertible bonds will mature in 2019, and the company is discussing interest rates with initial buyers, who will have an option to acquire additional notes worth $75 million.

According to Governor Andrew  Cuomo:

Solar City's planned factory would be the largest solar panel factory in the Western Hemisphere and could be open by early 2016 (15 months).

New York state is now planning to spend $750 million on the project; $350 million to build the plant and $400 million in funding for equipment.

The state will own the building and the equipment and SolarCity will lease the factory for $1 a year.

SolarCity plans to invest $5 billion over the next 10 years ($500 million a year) and to employ 3,000 people at the factory.

96 acres purchased by the state across from RiverBend will be part of Start-Up New York program that allows new business within the state's university system to operate tax free for ten years.

SolarCity's success depends on hopes of solar energy system prices falling to the point where government sunsidies are no longer needed to by profitable.

The state is holding discussions with Soraa about potential new sites for their proposed Buffalo facility.

“SolarCity is getting into a business it has never been before,” said Angelo Zino, an analyst with Capital IQ. Historically, it had outsourced panels from Chinese makers, and it entering the solar-panel making business brings fresh execution risk and capital needs, Zino said.

"This is by far the sweetest such deal that we are aware of and is effectively a massive transfer of taxpayer money to a private entity...
Our expectation is that almost several Chinese solar companies will be on par, or ahead of SolarCity, in terms of costs and efficiency, by the time SolarCity reaches volume production at the new facility.
The Riverbend agreement, on the other hand, is a sweetheart deal. The Company is able to build a state of the art solar manufacturing facility on the backs of New York state taxpayers with very little of its own investment...
We marvel that Elon Musk was able to engineer a $750M transfer of money from the state of New York taxpayers to SolarCity shareholders. As SolarCity shareholders do not get the benefit of depreciating the facility, we expect the economic value of this deal to SolarCity shareholders at about $500M. This deal effectively increases the valuation of SolarCity by about $6 per share bringing the intrinsic value of this Company to a mid-teen level.
Our Sentiment: Avoid"
-Seeking Alpha

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Racial quotas for the project:

20% of contractors must be women or minorities
25% of construction workers must be minorities
5% of construction workers must be women

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New York State purchases 96 additional acres from the City of Buffalo at $2.8 million for a grand total of 184 acres bought at $5.3 million.

The state used Fort Schuyler Management Corp., a subsidiary of the State University of NY, to facilitate the purchase.

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2/2015

SolarCity CEO Rive and CFO Buss press statement: "We are now within roughly two years of having integrated manufacturing capacity."

Russ: Equipment will start be installed in first quarter of next year; full factory capacity first quarter of 2017.

Federal tax credits for residential systems drop from 30 to 10% by end of 2016.

SolarCity's current cost of production per watt is $2.86; company goal is $2.50.

To reduce costs, Solar City is utilizing a factory in Hangzhou, China.

SolarCity also recently inked a lease deal for bankrupt Solyndra's 200,000 square foot facility in Fremont, CA.

SolarCity's stock has fallen 27% since mid-September.

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Industry experts acknowledge that SolarCity's transition from installer to manufacturer might prove problematic. 

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8/21/2015

SolarCity Corp., the biggest U.S. rooftop solar developer, sank the most in 21 months after hedge fund manager Jim Chanos said he’s short the stock.

SolarCity slumped 13 percent to $40.99 at the close of trading in New York, the steepest decline since November 2013...

Chanos, founder of Kynikos Associates LP, called SolarCity a “subprime” finance company, and suggested that SolarCity customers will be unhappy with their existing leases when they see solar panel prices decline further. Chanos had about $2.5 billion in assets at the end of February, according to a regulatory filing...

Short interest, which shows how many shares investors have borrowed to sell later if the price declines, has doubled since June to more than 30 percent of free shares outstanding, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

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8/24/2015

Elon Musk, the billionaire chairman of SolarCity Corp. and the company’s biggest shareholder, increased his stake after the top U.S. installer of rooftop power plants fell to a 22-month low.

Musk bought 123,510 shares at a price of $40.4855 each, according to a regulatory filing Monday after the close of regular U.S. trading, boosting his holdings by about 0.6 percent.

Musk expanded his position after hedge fund manager Jim Chanos said Friday that he’s short on the company, triggering a rout that drove the shares down 13 percent...

Chanos called San Mateo, California-based SolarCity a “subprime” finance company on CNBC Friday. The company’s Chief Executive Officer Lyndon Rive responded by saying the average credit score of a SolarCity customer is 750, far above the 640 score considered to be more risky.

Traders who expect a stock price to drop can short a company by borrowing shares to sell, aiming to buy them back later at a lower price.

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9/28/2015

No-bid contracts at SolarCity focus of Federal probe.

When state bureaucrats set out to build the biggest solar-panel factory in the Western Hemisphere, they did not hunt for construction companies willing to bid lower than all of the others for a piece of the action in South Buffalo.
Rather than seek competitive bids for early phases of the work, the bureaucrats let their developer hand-pick subcontractors that were known quantities. They would haggle over price later – after the subs had a foot in the door.
The arrangement is not unusual for private-sector undertakings, in part because it hurries construction. But it’s rare for government-sponsored projects. And it may be one reason the U.S. attorney in Manhattan issued subpoenas in an effort to learn more about the SolarCity factory and other big publicly fed construction jobs.
As he follows the scent of corruption in state government, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara is examining the bidding practices applied in Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s “Buffalo Billion” revitalization program, including its largest undertaking, the SolarCity factory rising along a bend in the Buffalo River.
Subpoenas have gone out seeking information from, among others, LPCiminelli of Buffalo, which was hired to build the modern factory and has taken on other large public projects, such as the $1.3 billion renovation of the Buffalo Public Schools. An attorney for LPCiminelli says the federal inquiry, which also includes the school makeovers, does not target LPCiminelli or its principals.
When SolarCity, of San Mateo, Calif., picked South Buffalo for its state-provided factory in June 2014, its executives expected a quick start. They wanted 1.2 million square feet available in less than two years, and they wanted full production by early 2017...
LPCiminelli was selected from a handful of general contractors deemed capable of building such a facility and was allowed a 4.5 percent design and construction management fee, at least on the first $57.3 million in work, according to documents that were posted without redactions just days ago by the Fort Schuyler Management Corp. of Utica – an extension of the State University of New York.
The Ciminellis who serve as company principals donate to myriad political causes and have given $100,000 to Cuomo’s political funds just since 2010, when the downstate politician ran his first successful race for governor. While more than political generosity goes into the selection of a developer for a project as important as the SolarCity factory, six-figure donations draw notice from political figures who can make things happen. The Ciminellis’ $100,000 contribution to Cuomo’s campaign is now dwarfed by the almost $2.6 million fee the company stands to make just on the first phase of work. The total cost of construction is expected to top $400 million.
Ciminelli and Fort Schuyler agreed that to shave time, they would select key subcontractors not through slow-moving competitive bids but through a process known as “best-value sourcing.” Best value allowed Ciminelli to select companies it trusted and to establish a basic price with them. Then, through the design phase and even as construction commenced, Ciminelli, the architects and the best-value subcontractors would find ways to reduce the subcontractors’ prices by 10 percent.
One local contractor, asked about best value, said that companies knowing a 10 percent reduction is expected down the road will likely inflate their price by 10 percent at the outset. But vendors also had to agree to open their books on the project to LPCiminelli and auditors from KPMG.
“Any time we can get involved earlier in the process, we like it,” said Robert Beck, the president of John W. Danforth Co., a Buffalo contractor picked to install pipes to deliver the plant’s gas, chemicals and processed water. “It gives us an active role to take ownership in the job. It gives us accountability.”
Best-value sourcing also allowed the freedom to favor local subcontractors, giving the Buffalo-area economy a greater benefit from the hundreds of millions of dollars pouring into the project...
“If we didn’t do it this way, we would have lost a full winter of construction,” said Thomas O’Brien, a vice president at SUNY Polytechnic Institute, one of the key players in the SolarCity project....
At the same time, best value and the fact that the state university system is overseeing the RiverBend project hides certain details from prying eyes. For one thing, there are no formal bids for spurned contractors to challenge. And the Fort Schuyler Management Corp., which signed the agreements with LPCiminelli, is a private, not-for-profit corporation affiliated with the SUNY Polytechnic Institute, which, of course, falls under SUNY – which is not just another state agency.
In the face of some critical media reports, Fort Schuyler issued public statements seeking to reassure the public that Buffalo’s “innovation projects” receive adequate oversight – the same oversight “as any other New York government agency.” That includes a “public and transparent review” by the appropriate state agencies, the statement said, mentioning the State Division of the Budget, Empire State Development, SUNY, the state Comptroller’s Office and the Attorney General’s Office.
But the only agency that would review the dollars and cents beforehand and is not controlled by the governor does not review SUNY construction contracts, said Jennifer Freeman, the state comptroller’s director of communications. Nor can the Comptroller’s Office review contracts with one of SUNY’s private, not-for-profit corporations, such as Fort Schuyler.
While the comptroller’s auditors can go in later to examine a SUNY entity’s financial management or some other aspect of the way they handle public money, “we do not review and approve SUNY construction contracts,” Freeman said.
“They don’t follow the same exact process that state agencies do.”

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10/30/2015

Soraa announces plans to build its plant, originally planned for Buffalo's RiverBend, outside of Syracuse in DeWitt, NY.

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10/30/2015

SolarCity posted a net loss of $234 million in the third quarter. That’s the biggest quarterly loss in the history of the company and brings the year-to-date losses to a staggering $537 million.
That puts SolarCity on track to lose more than $700 million for 2015, compared with net losses of $375 million in 2014, $152 million in 2013 and $92 million in 2012.
 
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10/30/2015

Following their earnings report, SCTY stock shares fell over 24%, falling into the $28 range.
That’s down from a peak of $84.96 in February 2014.


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10/2015

October SEC filings indicate SolarCity's RiverBend factory force would dip to 500.  But SolarCity would honor it's original 1,460 promise by hiring an additional 960 employees within the city of Buffalo.
-The Buffalo News

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1/4/2016

SolarCity and the Silver Spoon
Solar - another scam that enriches the already rich and robs the poor


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2/27/2016

...200 workers laid off earlier in the day because the state had fallen months behind in payments.

...workers were issued pink slips because their employers could no longer afford to pay them.

[S]tate officials still seemed at a loss to explain how the government had failed in the first place to pay more than $82.5 million in contractor invoices on a Buffalo Billion project. The shortfall since October left the state at least three months behind in its debts...

Cuomo and his staff had remained largely silent and invisible Friday, even as the major billing problem led to plumbers, steamfitters, carpenters and other unionized workers being laid off, at least temporarily.

Sources said earlier in the day that contractors had issued pink slips to workers represented by at least two local labor unions, as the firms could no longer afford to cover their payrolls and suppliers, after struggling with salaries since October. More than 104 members of the United Association of Plumbers & Steamfitters Local 22 and more than 70 members of the Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters Local 276 faced layoffs, though more were at risk earlier.

According to a construction industry source close to the project, Ciminelli and the contractors are now spending about $40 million a month, as the pace of work has picked up considerably. But the state hasn’t made payments for November or December, and a third $40 million payment for January is due in a couple of weeks.

Under the governor’s concept, the State University of New York Polytechnic Institute, run by Alain Kalayeros, will actually own the facility and equipment that SolarCity will lease, and is overseeing the project for the state through its Fort Schuyler Management Corp. Empire State Development funnels the Buffalo Billion money to SUNY Poly and then to Fort Schuyler, which in turn forward it to LPCiminelli and then to the contractors. That leaves plenty of room for confusion and missteps.


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4/12/2016

SolarCity borrows $150 million from Credit Suisse.

SolarCity finances $188 million from Bank of America by selling government tax breaks that SolarCity cannot use because they have zero profits.

SolarCity prepares to sell $40 million of Renewable Energy Certificates to other utilities who need to meet the renewable energy standards set by industry regulators.


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4/15/2016

SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive:  SolarCity does not offer their rooftop solar systems in Western New York because electricity prices in the region are too low.


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5/2/2016

Governor Cuomo: "[The Buffalo Billion] is running at the same speed.  The Buffalo Billion is doing great work."

-The Buffalo News


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5/3/2016

Federal investigators led by US Attorney Preet Bharara looking into  Governor Cuomo's "Buffalo Billion" have requested information from SolarCity. 
SolarCity vice president of communications:  "It's premature at this point to speculate on any impact the investigation might have on the project timeline."

-The Buffalo News


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5/4/2016

SolarCity is using "cash equity" to raise operation funds by selling the profits and tax benefits it expects to make twenty years from now.
Analysts believe SolarCity will need to raise $1.2 billion in financing this year.
SolarCity executive vice president of global capital markets:  "Cash equity enables SolarCity to monetize a high percentage of cash flows to maximize upfront financing proceeds.  This transaction is an exciting addition and diversification of our long-term financing options of solar assets.

-The Buffalo News


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5/6/2016

SolarCity's earning report posted a net loss of $281 million for 2016.  That's 21% of its value.


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5/10/2016

SolarCity scales back growth forecast. 
SCTY shares fell 20% in after-hours trading yesterday.
Company executives blamed declining sales on consumer uncertainty of government incentives, rebates, and tax credits.
CEO Lyndon Rive:  "We had a bunch of head winds that hit us - all at the same time."

-The Buffalo News


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5/11/2016

Six brokerage firms have cut their price target for SCTY.  CreditSuisse has slashed their estimate from a $62 target to $38.
SolarCity has raised $1.1 billion of the $2.8 billion in financing for this year. 
CFO Tanguy Serra:  "Financing, for us, is really like working capital." 
Financing costs have risen as investors become wary.
CEO Lyndon Rive:  "We have reduced volume and we have focused on cost optimization for the year."

-The Buffalo News


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5/12/2016

There's no question that something is fundamentally wrong at SolarCity Corp.  Management can't seem to predict how many installations it will do in a given quarter, it's starting to lose the regulatory battle with utilities, and sales costs seem to be out of control.

For all of SolarCity's problems, it could adapt to today's solar industry and maintain a solid market position, and even make money. But it would require a big shift in management's thinking, something I'm not sure they're ready to do.

One of my complaints about SolarCity's business model has been its very optimistic assumptions about the future. It signs up to 20 year contracts with customers and then assumes that customers will want to renew those contracts for another 10 years, despite the fact that equipment will be old and outdated by then.

There's also the annual escalation in contracts, which goes against the constantly falling cost of solar energy.  That could make defaults more common than SolarCity assumes 10 or 15 years into each contract.

But that could be solved by simply selling solar systems to customers when they're built. No more financing mumbo jumbo, no more grandiose assumptions, here's what we sold and here's how much money we made.
The introduction of a new solar loan recently was a step in that direction, and could reduce the company's reliance on leases going forward.  And I think it would really unlock value for the company.

SolarCity has always touted itself as the lowest cost installer in the solar industry, which is hard to refute because the only companies that advertise their cost data are public companies Vivint Solarand Sunrun.  If that's true, it should have an advantage over the competition in solar cash and loan sales.  The only complication is that we don't know the cost structure of hundreds of small, local installers that are in the business as well, which dominate the cash and loan business today.

One way to get an idea of how SolarCity may fare in solar sales is looking at EnergySage's recent Solar Marketplace Intel Report for the end of 2015.  The company is like a Priceline for solar, meaning customers can ask for multiple bids from different companies and choose the best one.  If you look at the national data, the cost per watt for an average solar system is $3.69.  Bids vary wildly from $2.00 per watt to $6.50 per watt, but on average the $3.69 figure is a good ballpark.

Now, compare that to SolarCity's general cost structure of $2.70 per watt before some dislocations in the first quarter.  If SolarCity sold all of its solar systems for $3.69 per watt and its costs were $2.70 per watt, it could generate about $1 per watt in profit without any of the back end risk currently associated with leases.

Compare that to the $3.12 per watt in project financing SolarCity got in the first quarter, equating to about $0.42 per watt in margin, and sales are potentially a much better deal for the company -- plus it would get cash up front. Loans could be less risk AND higher guaranteed profit.

Part of the challenge is fundamentally changing what SolarCity is as a business. The company has been about financing and selling energy on a per kWh basis since it was founded, and selling loans could fundamentally change that.

But with the market questioning the assumptions that go into SolarCity's finance model and the margins that will be generated long-term, it's a move that could be good for the company.

If SolarCity is indeed the low-cost installer in solar, I think loans will be its future.  And that could be great for investors.

-Travis Hoium


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5/13/2016

Following three SEC filings hinting at less factory hirings at RiverBend, SolarCity maintained their commitment to hire 1,460 employees in the city of Buffalo.
-Channel 2 News WGRZ


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5/14/2016

SolarCity has acknowledged it has received a subpoena from the US Attorney's office in Manhattan regarding the investigation into Governor Cuomo's "Buffalo Billion."


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5/15/2016

In response to less factory workers at RiverBend but a commitment to more workers state wide from 3,540 to 5,000:
"SolarCity is contractually obligated to employ more New Yorkers than every before," said David Doyle, spokesman for SUNY Polytechnic Institute, functioning as driving force for RiverBend.

Regarding the 500 RiverBend jobs, Kady Cooper SolarCity spokeswoman:
"We'll augment those manufacturing jobs with head count in sales, project development, and other functions.  It's better for the region as it allows us to create a wide range of jobs that will be appropriate for a broader range of potential applicants....
We'll still have 900-plus in the City of Buffalo.  These will be very, very technical hires at a higher level and at a higher pay.
We could have people working in Buffalo on cross-functional teams with offices across the country."

Morgan Stanley analyst Stephen Byrd doubts SolarCity can install the 1,000 to 1,100 megawatts of solar generating capacity this year.  He thinks 950 is more accurate.  He does not think SolarCity will turn a profit before 2018.

SolarCity cost per watt is $3.18 with a goal of $2.25 per watt.

In the first quarter, SolarCity spent $0.97 per watt to sign up customers, a 73% increase because of lack of sales. 

"I don't want to forecast for 2017, but once the business starts generating cash, the goal would be to go back into growth mode again." - SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive

-The Buffalo News


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5/16/2016

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown:
"I don't see any interruption in the Buffalo Billion projects at all."
-Channel 2 news WGRZ


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5/17/2016

NYS Legislature refused to approve $485 million in SolarCity Buffalo funding. 
The NYS Public Authority Control Board vote has therefore been postponed. 
Officials at the overseeing SUNY Polytechnic Institute refused to comment.
Anonymous sources told The Buffalo News that red flags were raised in the Legislature due to vague language. 
SolarCity is by far the biggest portion of the governor's Buffalo Billion, now under federal investigation.

-The Buffalo News


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5/18/2016

A meeting by the Public Authorities Control Board to approve $485 million in state tax payer cash has been delayed.
"That's just a scheduling issue."  - Governor Cuomo


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5/24/2016

The site work for RiverBend is running $50 million higher ($209 million) than the $159 million estimated two years ago, this according to the SUNY Polytechnic Institute that administers the project.
-The Buffalo News

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5/25/2016

The Public Authorities Control Board approves $485 million in state tax payer cash for the SolarCity project at Buffalo's RiverBend site.


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5/26/2016

SolarCity business model:  fronting the cost of home solar installation (between $20,000 and $30,000) and leasing it to the homeowner for 20 years.
Last quarter the company lost $215 million dollars.
- David Robinson, The Buffalo News


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6/14/2016

State officials release $33 million in overdue contractor payments to avert construction layoffs at RiverBend site.

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6/22/2016

Tesla floats purchase of SolarCity... "Tremendous synergies..."

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From 6/22 to 6/24 TSLA stock falls from $219.61 to $193.15. 

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8/1/2016

SolarCity becomes wholly owned subsidiary of Tesla.
Deal is valued at $2.6 billion.
SCTY falls 7% on the news.

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3/3/2017

SolarCity has shed 20% of its workforce (approx. 3,000 employees) over the last year while posting $820 million in losses.

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3/8/2017

Panasonic (under the umbrella of Tesla) has taken over the responsibilities of production at SolarCity's RiverBend facility.

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4/17/2017

SolarCity's Bond Prepayments Are The First Rotten Fruits Of A Misbegotten Merger.

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5/3/2017

SolarCity plant remains on track despite slowdown in company's business, Tesla says.

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7/12/2017

The Buffalo News front page above the fold: THE PROMISE AND HOPE OF JOBS AT RIVERBEND
"... Tuesday at a Panasonic information session ... where a roomful of men and women hoped for an answer to one question:
Will Panasonic actually start widespread hiring at the Tesla Inc. solar panel factory, at RiverBend in South Buffalo?
The answer is yes, company officials said.
By the end of August, they said, Panasonic hopes to have about 120 new workers on the floor at RiverBend."

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8/4/2017

The Buffalo News front page below the fold: Tesla tile production to begin in December
"Tesla Inc. plans to begin production in Buffalo by the end of this year of the solar roofing tiles that the company hopes will become a signature product for its renewable energy business."

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