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  • Arizona SRP Decision Draws Focus To SolarCity's Uncertain Future [View article]
    As a satisfied SolarCity lease holder for over three years, it is good to see some of the electric Utilities begin to feel a threat to the monopoly that they have enjoyed for decades. Not all utilities are created equal, but there are some that could use a "makeover". I recall when, here in Texas, Southwestern Bell charged a fixed fee each month for every wired telephone in my house and there were no other options. That would be impossible to impose now with wireless home phones. SWB enforced their rules by monitoring the telephone line impedance of customer house wiring to make sure we did not add extra phones (at our own expense) without paying an extra fee. Each of the old type telephones had an electro-mechanical bell ringer that drew a current when it rang. In the future we may see new solar technology (low cost batteries, etc) that will cause changes in the monopoly of electric utilities, like has happened to telephone company monopolies of the past...
    Mar 3, 2015. 01:00 PM | 6 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Enphase Energy: Well-Priced Or Just Getting Started? [View article]
    Alternative Analyst, you wrote an interesting article. I am long ENPH and hope that you are right in your estimates for ENPH. I am also long SCTY, since the first day of their IPO, and have a SolarCity system installed on the roof of my house. SCTY uses mostly leases to market their systems. I have a pre-paid lease and it has worked out quite well for me. If ENPH used leases for their micro-inverters the way SCTY uses leases, they might claim retained value like SCTY. If SCTY sold their systems rather than leasing most of them, the value of SCTY, according to many analysts, would probably be much less without the retained value. SCTY might then be used to estimate a reasonable value for ENPH. Is there a solar equipment component supplier similar to ENPH that might be used instead of SCTY to estimate the value of ENPH?
    Oct 4, 2014. 04:05 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • SunEdison: A Second Yield Co [View article]
    When we identify the parameter(s)/indicators that correlate to days when Solar Stocks are DOWN and Market Indexes are UP, we may possibly understand why Solar gets "hammered" when the Indexes are doing OK. Today is certainly one of those days. Could it be the tidal waves from large investors and Mutual Funds buying and selling, causing our little boats to rock? Long SUNE.
    Sep 30, 2014. 01:20 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Tesla Rockets, QTR Takes A Victory Lap For Longs [View article]
    The future success of Tesla may have been "documented" last night in Episode 3 of the futuristic CBS TV show Extant. During the show, Holle Berry and her husband Goran Visnhic, the main characters in the series, hitched a ride in a white Tesla Model X. The camera clearly showed the Tesla "T" on the front of the SUV as the scene opened. So far in all three episodes, all passenger vehicles have been electric powered. This may be as positive an indicator for the future of Tesla as positive Analyst recommendations...
    Aug 11, 2014. 05:47 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • SolarCity Earnings: Rapid Growth Belies Fundamental Problems [View article]
    Casual Analyst, I mentioned the prepaid lease again, because it is rarely included in the SCTY analysis. Agreed, if a majority of SCTY customers asked for a prepaid lease, it not work for SCTY. But, those few of us who do go with a prepaid lease get a good deal. Apparently "cash is king" once again.
    Aug 9, 2014. 10:08 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • SolarCity Earnings: Rapid Growth Belies Fundamental Problems [View article]
    Retired Securities Attorney, you are correct about my error: I slipped a K in where it should not have been. I actually paid $5,800 for a prepaid 20 year lease on a 8.3 KW system, which is $.70 per watt. At the time I could not believe the low cost, but I have the receipt. We have very good solar rebates in Texas... when they are available. I had to get on a waiting list and then wait a year for my system. Last week I was talking to SolarCity employees and they mentioned that current Oncor rebates in our area have been used up for 2014 and that new SolarCity installations are currently booked through January 2015. I have friends who have installed SCTY systems similar to mine and more friends that are interested. Additional local rebate money will become available in November 2014. The installation backlog in the Dallas area is at least 6 months and SCTY is apparently restricted in sales year to year by the available rebate funding. This may be why Texas is not one of the primary states for new SCTY business. The high growth rates for sales and installations will likely not happen in Texas unless something changes.
    Aug 9, 2014. 09:53 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • SolarCity Earnings: Rapid Growth Belies Fundamental Problems [View article]
    I have had a repaid lease with Solar City for over a year now and paid about $0.70 per KW for 8.3 KW. The output from my solar system currently saves me an average of over $100 per month on my electric bill. The system will pay for itself in less than 5 years and for the next 15 years the system will provide free electricity. My electric bill for the last 4 months in Texas has averaged $4.00 per month. Also, I do not pay Federal or State taxes on the money I save on my electric bill. Yesterday the local Solar City system maintenance crew dropped by my house to make a small adjustment to the inverter voltage setting that will increase the output at low light levels. The Solar City central online monitoring system detected that my system was not producing at peak efficiency during early and late daylight hours and sent a notification that an adjustment was needed. I did not request the adjustment, but am grateful that they watch my system output that closely. That is just one more reason to go with Solar City.
    Aug 8, 2014. 09:24 AM | 7 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • JA Solar's 20.4% Cells: A Fable About How U.S. Companies Keep Underestimating The Chinese [View article]
    SolarCity most likely has plans for the future that we are not privy to. As a happy SolarCity system owner with 38 YGE solar panels (16% efficiency) on my roof, I am anxiously waiting for SCTY to offer existing customers higher efficiency panels (20%+) in some sort of an upgrade program. My roof can not accommodate additional solar panels, but the old panels can easily be replaced with higher efficiency panels when it becomes cost efficient to do so. In the near future, with over a million systems installed, SCTY might become the "Apple" of the solar industry, offering existing and new customers the latest technology in a complete and user friendly package. Some individuals will prefer to create their own custom system, computer or solar, but the masses may prefer a turn-key purchase and may be willing to pay a bit extra for the reduced effort of simplicity. During it's early years, did anyone underestimate the potential of Apple (Mac)? Has anyone underestimated the future potential of SCTY?
    Jun 24, 2014. 09:44 AM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • SolarCity Leases And PPAs: Counting On Uninformed Customers And Investors? [View article]
    I hope that the number of responses on this article is indicative of the future positive appreciation of my SolarCity stock investments...
    Jun 8, 2014. 03:13 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • SolarCity Leases And PPAs: Counting On Uninformed Customers And Investors? [View article]
    On the issue of curb appeal with solar panels installed, because most residences are built on both sides of the street, the sun will shine on the front of some homes and on the sides and back of others. In our situation our home faces North East. We have 4.7 KW of solar panels (21 YGE panels) on the South East facing roof area on the side of our house and the panels are hardly visible from the street. We added 3.7 KW of panels (16 larger YGE panels) to the South West facing roof area which is only visible from our back yard. There is no significant change to the look of our home from the street by adding the solar panels. About 1/2 of homes in the USA will be able to add panels without significantly changing the curb appeal when they sell their property. About 1/2 of homes in the USA will have solar panels facing the street, which with the present state of panel configuration can make a significant reduction in curb appeal. However, solar panel technology is continually changing and in the future it is likely that solar panels will be incorporated into the roof surface with little to no change in curb appeal for those who have front doors that face in a Southerly direction.
    May 15, 2014. 08:02 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • SolarCity Leases And PPAs: Counting On Uninformed Customers And Investors? [View article]
    There still appears to be misunderstanding of the details of how some SCTY leases work. To further clarify some details of our two lease contracts with SCTY: our first system is on a 15 year lease and the second system is on a 20 year lease. During the time we were waiting for the second system, SCTY changed the lease period from 15 to 20 years. When we pre-paid the leases rather than go with the nothing down with a month to month payment, we essentially purchased the systems along with all maintenance required during the lease periods. We also have continuous access to the SCTY system monitoring website that tracks our panel's electrical production. It is pretty cool to see the real time charts and data on our PC and Smart Phones. Our electric bill is only for electricity that we purchase from Green Mountain Energy, which is delivered over the Oncor maintained grid. Net metering gives us credit at Green Mountain Energy when we produce more than we consume and our "Smart Meter" is doing a good job of tracking the flow of electrons onto and off of our property. Our electric rate is set by Green Mountain Energy and is currently 11.1 cents per KWH. That rate might go up in the future. Green Mountain costs us a little more per KWH, but they provide us with electricity generated by renewable energy sources. SCTY has no say in the present or the future regarding our electric rate per KWH. SolarCity only guarantees that our two systems will produce a certain minimum amount of KWH during the lease period, based on the panel orientation to the sun and our geographical location. Some friends in Dallas recently installed an 8 KWH system on their roof with the same general pre-paid lease costs that we paid. If the low cost of the pre-paid lease is an error by SCTY, then they have been making the same error for 3 years. My thought is that SCTY is making good use of the rebate money and the cash that we gave them to pre-pay our lease. We have been SCTY stockholders since the first day of their IPO and are looking forward to many more years of above average returns on our investment.
    May 15, 2014. 09:46 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • SolarCity Leases And PPAs: Counting On Uninformed Customers And Investors? [View article]
    I just noticed that I made a major error when I calculated the cost per KW of my 8.4KW system. I apologize for the error. I inverted the cost and Kw numbers when I hit enter. We installed a 4.7 KW system in 2011 for a prepaid lease cost of $3,400. In 2013 we added a 3.7 KW system for a prepaid lease cost of $2,400. Total cost of both system was $5,800. Divide $5,800 by 8,400 Watts and you get 69 cents per Watt for the installed prepaid lease cost. That is a much better value than what I originally posted above. I am sorry for the calculation mistake. The low cost per KW is due to all the rebates that were available in our area at that time for residential solar panels. For both systems, we had to get on a waiting list until additional rebate money was made available by Oncor, our local electricity provider. When we had the first (4.7 KW) system installed, the installer supervisor said that if I was purchasing the system, it would cost me about $25,000 (less the rebates). I figured that $3,400 to prepay the lease with SolarCity was better than $25,000 less rebates. We decided to add more panels the next year and had to wait until more rebate money became available in 2013. On the issue of the change in value to our home from having solar panels on the roof, my feeling is that because they generate an average of over $120 per month of electricity, they add more value to our home than the $5,800 that they cost. If we did sell our home, the prepaid lease can be transferred to the new owners and they would then enjoy the monthly electric bill reduction of about $120 per month (at 11 cents per KWH). SolarCity said that I could even take the system with me to a new location, but I would probably not bother. Sure, we could have waited to get our system until the costs per KW came down even more and the performance per square meter of panels increased, but the large rebates were available when we got our system. We just got our electric bill for April today and it was $9.65. Another thing that the panels do for us, is to shade about half of the roof area of our house from the intense Texas sun. The attic is about 20 degrees F cooler now in the summer. Finally, by having a lease instead of owning the system, if there are any problems, SolarCity will get the repairs done. We have had ZERO problems with either of our systems, but it is nice to have that peace of mind.
    May 14, 2014. 10:40 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • SolarCity Leases And PPAs: Counting On Uninformed Customers And Investors? [View article]
    One financing option that I have not seen mentioned in SA articles on SCTY is the "prepaid" lease. We installed 8.4 KW of SCTY panels on our roof two years ago and chose a prepaid 20 year lease as the best way to go. The Federal, State and Local incentives and rebates lowered the cost of our prepaid lease to where we paid about $1.45 per KW total for the system. At the current 11.1 cents per KWH that we are paying for electricity, the savings we am seeing on our electric bill will pay back the system cost in about 4.5 years. The next 15.5 years will be pure profit. That ROI is higher than some of my other stable investments. The electric rates here in Texas might even go up in the next 18 years. The installation went very smoothly and we have been 100% happy with our SCTY system. We have recommended SCTY to friends, some of whom have purchased systems using a prepaid lease. Prepaid leases may not be available in all areas of the US, but it works for us here in Texas.
    May 14, 2014. 10:50 AM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Tesla Motors (TSLA) gains 6.2% in premarket trading to reach $93.10 as its dizzying post-earnings victory lap continues. Morgan Stanley is out with what is largely a cautionary note before crunching the numbers for the "extreme" bull case. The firm says if Tesla achieves a 20% operating margin on 200K units per year, then a $300-plus price target could be justified. [View news story]
    I have one additional point to add, something that Tesla is certainly working on. I currently have a 4.7 kW SolarCity solar panel system on the roof of my house and it saved me over $700 in grid electricity bills last year (at 11 cents per kW hour). Next week I am adding a 3.6 kW SolarCity system to another part of my roof: total 8.3 kW. The installed cost to me for these systems is about 10% of the installed retail value (on a prepaid 20 year lease). If Tesla joins with SolarCity like they did with Honda to give new Tesla buyers a discount on a new SolarCity solar system, those new owners could drive their Model S forever with free electricity. A marriage made in heaven. That could open up an additional market for the Model S and a HUGE market later for the lower cost Tesla EV's. I am long TSLA and long SCTY.
    May 14, 2013. 12:18 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment