SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2020
Commission File Number 001-37511
(Exact name of Registrant as specified in its Charter)
225 Bush Street, Suite 1400
San Francisco, California 94104
(Address of principal executive offices and Zip Code)
(Registrant’s telephone number, including area code)
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None
Indicate by check mark if the Registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. Yes ☒ No ☐
Indicate by check mark if the Registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Act. Yes ☐ No ☒
Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant: (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the Registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days. Yes ☒ No ☐
Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant has submitted electronically and posted on its corporate Web site, if any, every Interactive Data File required to be submitted and posted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the Registrant was required to submit and post such files). Yes ☒ No ☐
Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, a smaller reporting company, or an emerging growth company. See the definition of “large accelerated filer”, “accelerated filer”, “smaller reporting company”, and "emerging growth company" in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act. (Check one):
If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act. ☐
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed a report on and attestation to its management’s assessment of the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (15 U.S.C. 7262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report. ☒
Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act). Yes ☐ No ☒
The aggregate market value of the voting and non-voting common equity held by non-affiliates of the Registrant, based on the closing price of the shares of common stock on The Nasdaq Stock Market on, June 30, 2020 was approximately $2.3 billion.
As of February 22, 2021, the number of shares of the registrant’s common stock outstanding was 202,583,673.
Portions of the information called for by Part III of this Form 10-K is hereby incorporated by reference from the definitive Proxy Statements for our annual meeting of stockholders, which will be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission not later than 120 days after December 31, 2020.
Table of Contents
SPECIAL NOTE REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS
The discussion in this Annual Report on Form 10-K contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the "Securities Act"), Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the “Exchange Act”) and the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, which statements involve substantial risks and uncertainties. Forward-looking statements generally relate to future events or our future financial or operating performance. In some cases, you can identify forward-looking statements because they contain words such as “may,” “will,” “should,” “expects,” “plans,” “anticipates,” “could,” “intends,” “target,” “projects,” “contemplates,” “believes,” “estimates,” “predicts,” “potential” or “continue” or the negative of these words or other similar terms or expressions that concern our expectations, strategy, plans or intentions. Forward-looking statements contained in this Annual Report on Form 10-K include, but are not limited to, statements about:
•the potential effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on our business and operations, results of operations and financial position;
•the expected benefits and potential value created by the merger with Vivint Solar, Inc. ("Vivint Solar") for our stockholders, including the ownership percentage of our stockholders in the combined organization immediately following the consummation of the merger;
•the inherent risks, costs and uncertainties associated with integrating the businesses in the merger with Vivint Solar successfully and risks of not achieving all or any of the anticipated benefits of the merger with Vivint Solar, or the risk that the anticipated benefits of the acquisition may not be fully realized or take longer to realize than expected;
•the amount of any costs, fees, expenses, impairments and charges relating to the merger with Vivint Solar;
•the availability of rebates, tax credits and other financial incentives, and decreases to federal solar tax credits;
•determinations by the Internal Revenue Service of the fair market value of our solar energy systems;
•the retail price of utility-generated electricity or electricity from other energy sources;
•regulatory and policy development and changes;
•our ability to manage our supply chains and distribution channels and the impact of natural disasters and other events beyond our control, such as the COVID-19 pandemic;
•our industry’s, and specifically our, continued ability to manage costs (including, but not limited to, equipment costs) associated with solar service offerings;
•our strategic partnerships and expected benefits of such partnerships;
•our ability to realize the anticipated benefits of past or future investments, strategic transactions, or acquisitions, and risk that the integration of these acquisitions may disrupt our business and management;
•the sufficiency of our cash, investment fund commitments and available borrowings to meet our anticipated cash needs;
•the expected size and time frame of our stock repurchase program;
•our need and ability to raise capital, refinance existing debt, and finance our operations and solar energy systems from new and existing investors;
•the potential impact of interest rates on our interest expense;
•our business plan and our ability to effectively manage our growth, including our rate of revenue growth;
•our ability to further penetrate existing markets, expand into new markets and our expectations regarding market growth (including, but not limited to, expected cancellation rates);
•our expectations concerning relationships with third parties, including the attraction, retention and continued existence of qualified solar partners;
•the impact of seasonality on our business;
•our investment in research and development and new product offerings;
•our ability to protect our intellectual property and customer data, as well as to maintain our brand;
•technical and capacity limitations imposed by power grid operators;
•the willingness of and ability of our solar partners to fulfill their respective warranty and other contractual obligations;
•our ability to renew or replace expiring, cancelled or terminated Customer Agreements at favorable rates or on a long-term basis;
•the ability of our solar energy systems to operate or deliver energy for any reason, including if interconnection or transmission facilities on which we rely become unavailable;
•our expectations regarding certain performance objectives and the renewal rates and purchase value of our solar energy systems after expiration of our Customer Agreements; and
•the calculation of certain of our key financial and operating metrics and accounting policies.
These forward-looking statements are subject to a number of risks, uncertainties and assumptions, including those described in the section titled “Risk Factors” and elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. Moreover, we operate in a very competitive and rapidly changing environment, and new risks emerge from time to time. It is not possible for our management to predict all risks, nor can we assess the impact of all factors on our business or the extent to which any factor, or combination of factors, may cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in any forward-looking statements we may make. These risks and uncertainties may be amplified by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which has caused significant economic uncertainty and negative impacts on capital and credit markets. The extent to which the COVID-19 pandemic impacts our business, operations, and financial results, including the duration and magnitude of such effects, will depend on numerous factors, many of which are unpredictable, including, but not limited to, the duration and spread of the pandemic, its severity, the actions to contain the pandemic or treat its impact, and how quickly and to what extent normal economic and operating conditions can resume. In light of these risks, uncertainties and assumptions, the forward-looking events and circumstances discussed in this Annual Report on Form 10-K may not occur and actual results could differ materially and adversely from those anticipated or implied in the forward-looking statements.
You should not rely upon forward-looking statements as predictions of future events. Although we believe that the expectations reflected in the forward-looking statements are reasonable, we cannot guarantee that the future results, levels of activity, performance or events and circumstances reflected in the forward-looking statements will be achieved or occur. Moreover, neither we nor any other person assumes responsibility for the accuracy and completeness of the forward-looking statements. We undertake no obligation to update publicly any forward-looking statements for any reason after the date of this Annual Report on Form 10-K to conform these statements to actual results or to changes in our expectations, except as required by law.
You should read this Annual Report on Form 10-K and the documents that we reference in this Annual Report on Form 10-K and have filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) as exhibits to this Annual Report on Form 10-K with the understanding that our actual future results, levels of activity, performance, and events and circumstances may be materially different from what we expect.
SELECTED RISKS AFFECTING OUR BUSINESS
Investing in our common stock involves numerous risks, including the risks described in “Part I, Item 1A. Risk Factors”, of this Annual Report on Form 10-K. Below are some of these risks, any one of which could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.
Selected Risks Related to the Impacts of COVID-19
•The COVID-19 pandemic has had and could continue to have an adverse impact on our business, operations and the markets and communities in which we operate. Efforts to mitigate or contain the pandemic and the resulting weakened economic conditions may disrupt and adversely affect our business.
Selected Risks Related to the Solar Industry
•The solar energy industry is an emerging market which is constantly evolving and may not develop to the size or at the rate we expect.
•We have historically benefited from declining costs in our industry, and our business and financial results may be harmed not only as a result of any increases in costs associated with our solar service offerings but also any failure of these costs to continue to decline as we currently expect. If we do not reduce our cost structure in the future, our ability to continue to be profitable may be impaired.
•We face competition from traditional energy companies as well as solar and other renewable energy companies.
Selected Risks Related to Our Operating Structure and Financing Activities
•We need to raise capital to finance the continued growth of our operations and solar service business. If capital is not available to us on acceptable terms, as and when needed, our business and prospects would be materially and adversely impacted. In addition, our business is affected by general economic conditions and related uncertainties affecting markets in which we operate. Volatility in current economic conditions could adversely impact our business, including our ability to raise financing.
•Rising interest rates would adversely impact our business.
•We expect to incur substantially more debt in the future, which could intensify the risks to our business.
Selected Risks Related to Regulation and Policy
•We rely on net metering and related policies to offer competitive pricing to customers in all of our current markets, and changes to such policies may significantly reduce demand for electricity from our solar service offerings.
•Electric utility statutes and regulations and changes to such statutes or regulations may present technical, regulatory and economic barriers to the purchase and use of our solar service offerings that may significantly reduce demand for such offerings.
•Regulations and policies related to rate design could deter potential customers from purchasing our solar service offerings, reduce the value of the electricity our systems produce, and reduce any savings that our customers could realize from our solar service offerings.
Selected Risks Related to Our Business Operations
•Our growth depends in part on the success of our relationships with third parties, including our solar partners.
•We and our solar partners depend on a limited number of suppliers of solar panels, batteries, and other system components to adequately meet anticipated demand for our solar service offerings. Any shortage, delay or component price change from these suppliers, or the acquisition of any of these suppliers by a competitor, could result in sales and installation delays, cancellations and loss of market share.
•We may not realize the anticipated benefits of past or future investments, strategic transactions, or acquisitions, and integration of these acquisitions may disrupt our business and our management.
•Our results of operations may fluctuate from quarter to quarter, which could make our future performance difficult to predict and could cause our results of operations for a particular period to fall below expectations, resulting in a decline in the price of our common stock.
•Our actual financial results may differ materially from any guidance we may publish from time to time.
Selected Risks Related to Taxes and Accounting
•Our ability to provide our solar service offerings to customers on an economically viable basis depends in part on our ability to finance these systems with fund investors who seek particular tax and other benefits.
•If the Internal Revenue Service makes determinations that the fair market value of our solar energy systems is materially lower than what we have claimed, we may have to pay significant amounts to our fund investors, and our business, financial condition and prospects may be materially and adversely affected.
•Our business currently depends on the availability of utility rebates, tax credits and other benefits, tax exemptions and other financial incentives. The expiration, elimination or reduction of these benefits, rebates, or incentives could adversely impact our business.
If we are unable to adequately address these and other risks we face, our business may be harmed.
Item 1. Business.
Sunrun’s (the “Company”) mission is to provide our customers with clean, affordable solar energy and storage, and a best-in-class customer experience. In 2007, we pioneered the residential solar service model, creating a low-cost solution for customers seeking to lower their energy bills. By removing the high initial cost and complexity of cash system sales that used to define the residential solar industry, we have fostered the industry’s rapid growth and exposed an enormous market opportunity. Our relentless drive to increase the accessibility of solar energy is fueled by our enduring vision: to create a planet run by the sun.
On October 8, 2020, we completed the acquisition of Vivint Solar, Inc. ("Vivint Solar") a leading full-service residential solar provider in the United States, at an estimated purchase price of $5.0 billion, pursuant to an Agreement and Plan of Merger, dated as of July 6, 2020, by and among Sunrun, Vivint Solar and Viking Merger Sub, Inc., a Delaware corporation and direct wholly owned subsidiary of the Company (“Merger Sub”). Further information about the acquisition of Vivint Solar can be found in Note 3, Acquisitions to our consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
We are engaged in the design, development, installation, sale, ownership and maintenance of residential solar energy systems (“Projects”) in the United States. We provide clean, solar energy typically at savings compared to traditional utility energy. Our primary customers are residential homeowners. We also offer battery storage along with solar energy systems to our customers in select markets and sell our services to certain commercial developers through our multi-family and new homes offerings. After inventing the residential solar service model and recognizing its enormous market potential, we have built the infrastructure and capabilities necessary to rapidly acquire and serve customers in a low-cost and scalable manner. Today, our scalable operating platform provides us with a number of unique advantages. First, we are able to drive distribution by marketing our solar service offerings through multiple channels, including our diverse partner network and direct-to-consumer operations. This multi-channel model supports broad sales and installation capabilities, which together allow us to achieve capital-efficient growth. Second, we are able to provide differentiated solutions to our customers that, combined with a great customer experience, we believe will drive meaningful margin advantages for us over the long term as we strive to create the industry’s most valuable and satisfied customer base.
Our core solar service offerings are provided through our lease and power purchase agreements, which we refer to as our “Customer Agreements” and which provide customers with simple, predictable pricing for solar energy that is insulated from rising retail electricity prices. While customers have the option to purchase a solar energy system outright from us, most of our customers choose to buy solar as a service from us through our Customer Agreements without the significant upfront investment of purchasing a solar energy system. With our solar service offerings, we install solar energy systems on our customers’ homes and provide them the solar power produced by those systems for typically a 20- or 25-year initial term. In addition, we monitor, maintain and insure the system during the term of the contract. In exchange, we receive predictable cash flows from high credit quality customers and qualify for tax and other benefits. We finance portions of these tax benefits and cash flows through tax equity, non-recourse debt and project equity structures in order to fund our upfront costs, overhead and growth investments. We develop valuable customer relationships that can extend beyond this initial contract term and provide us an opportunity to offer additional services in the future, such as our home battery storage service. Since our founding, we have continued to invest in a platform of services and tools to enable large scale operations for us and our partner network, and these partners include solar integrators, sales partners, installation partners and other strategic partners. The platform includes processes and software, as well as fulfillment and acquisition of marketing leads. We believe our platform empowers new market entrants and smaller industry participants to profitably serve our large and underpenetrated market without making the significant investments in technology and infrastructure required to compete effectively against established industry players. Our platform provides the support for our multi-channel model, which drives broad customer reach and capital-efficient growth.
Delivering a differentiated customer experience is core to our strategy. We emphasize a customized solution, including a design specific to each customer’s home and pricing configurations that typically drive both customer savings and value to us. We believe that our passion for engaging our customers, developing a trusted brand, and providing a customized solar service offering resonates with our customers who are accustomed to a traditional residential power market that is often overpriced and lacking in customer choice.
We have experienced substantial growth in our business and operations since our inception in 2007, as well as through our acquisition of Vivint Solar on October 8, 2020. As of December 31, 2020, we operated the largest fleet of residential solar energy systems in the United States. We have a Networked Solar Energy Capacity of 3,885 Megawatts as of December 31, 2020, which represents the aggregate megawatt production capacity of our solar energy systems that have been recognized as deployments, from the company’s inception through the measurement date. Our Gross Earning Assets as of December 31, 2020 were approximately $7.8 billion. Please see the section entitled “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations — Key Operating Metrics” for more details on how we calculate Networked Solar Energy Capacity and Gross Earning Assets.
We also have a long track record of attracting low-cost capital from diverse sources, including tax equity and debt investors. Since inception we have raised tax equity investment funds to finance the installation of solar energy systems.
Our Multi-Channel Capabilities
Our unique, multi-channel capabilities offer consumers a compelling solar service through scalable, cost-effective and consumer-friendly channels. Customers can access our products through three channels: direct-to-consumer, solar partnerships and strategic partnerships.
We sell solar service offerings and install solar energy systems for customers through our direct-to-consumer channel. These solar energy systems are offered to customers either under a Customer Agreement or for purchase. This channel consists of an online lead generation function, a telesales and field sales team, a direct-to-home sales force, a retail sales team and an industry-leading installation organization.
We contract with diverse solar organizations that act as either exclusive or non-exclusive (depending on the terms of their contract with us) distributors of our solar service offerings and subcontractors for the installation of the related solar energy systems. Because of our commitment to these solar organizations and our vested interest in their success, we refer to them as our “solar partners,” although the actual legal relationship is that of an independent contractor. Our solar partners include:
•Solar integrators: trained and trusted partners who originate customers for our solar service offerings and procure and install the solar energy systems on our customers’ homes on our behalf as our subcontractors. Partnerships with solar integrators allow us to expand our brand, quickly enter new markets and drive capital-efficient growth. We compensate our solar integrators on a per solar energy system basis for generating Customer Agreements and the installation work they perform for us.
•Sales partners: sales and lead generation partners who provide us with high-quality leads and customers at competitive prices. We compensate our sales partners on a per customer basis for the sales and lead generation services they perform for us. All contracts are between the customer and us, based on a price set by us.
•Installation partners: trusted installation partners who procure and install a subset of our solar energy systems as our subcontractors and allow us to more efficiently deploy a mix of in-house and outsourced installation capabilities. We compensate our installation partners on a per solar energy system basis for the procurement of materials and installation work they perform for us. Installation partners are solely our subcontractors and do not enter into any agreements with our customers.
Our ability to connect specialized sales and installation firms on a single platform, which we license to our solar partners at no cost, allows us to enjoy the benefits of vertical integration without the additional fixed cost structure. This creates margin opportunities, system efficiencies and benefits from network effects in matching these ecosystem participants.
Our strategic partnerships encompass relationships with new market entrants not previously engaged in solar, including consumer marketing, retail and specialized energy retail companies. Our strategic partners find the residential solar market attractive, but recognize that significant barriers to entry make partnerships the preferred method to reach solar customers. Through these strategic arrangements, we typically market our solar service offerings to the strategic partner’s customer base and install the solar energy systems directly or through one of our solar partners. We manage the customer experience and retain the value of the economic relationship through the term of the customer’s contract and potential renewal period. We have executed strategic partnerships in competitive processes that give us access to millions of potential customers. As our industry grows, we believe that our unique platform and deep partnership experience position us to be the partner of choice for new market entrants. We believe that these broad strategic relationships will help us drive down our customer acquisition costs and make solar accessible to even more customers.
The combination of direct-to-consumer, solar partnerships and strategic partnerships offers distinct advantages. The direct-to-consumer channel allows us to scale rapidly, drive incremental unit costs down over the long term, and refine operational processes to share with our partners. Our solar partnerships and strategic partnerships enable nimble market entry and exit, while allowing for capital efficient growth. Together, this multi-channel strategy supported by our open platform allows us to reach more customers with our leading solar service without compromising our ability to provide exceptional customer service.
Since we were founded in 2007, we have been providing solar energy to residential customers at prices typically below utility rates through a variety of offerings, most commonly through our leases and power purchase agreements which we refer to as our “Customer Agreements.” Under our Customer Agreements, customers have the right to use and consume all electricity produced by the solar energy system on a continuous basis. Most Customer Agreements, other than those billed based on generation, entitle the customer to a refund for underproduction below a guaranteed amount, which we refer to as our "performance guarantee." Either directly or through a solar partner, we construct a solar energy system on a customer’s home which generates electricity at set prices through Customer Agreements which typically have an initial term of 20 or 25 years. Rates for both forms of our Customer Agreements can be fixed for the duration of the contract or escalated at a pre-determined percentage annually. Upon installation, a system is interconnected to the local utility grid. The home’s energy usage is provided by the solar energy system with any additional energy needs provided by the local utility. Any excess solar energy, including amounts in excess of battery storage, that is not immediately used by our customers is exported to the utility grid using a bi-directional utility net meter, and the customer generally receives a credit for this excess power from their utility to offset future usage of utility-generated energy.
Although many of our customers choose to pay little-to-nothing upfront and instead receive a monthly bill, some customers choose to prepay an amount upfront, thereby reducing their monthly bill. The amount of an upfront payment is customized for each customer. Customers may also choose to fully prepay their 20- or 25-year contracts. The prepayment amount is based on the estimated amount of the solar energy system’s output over the typically 20- or 25-year term of the Customer Agreement. If the estimated production of the solar energy system is less than the actual production for a given year after the first full one to two years of the agreement, prepaid customers are refunded the difference at the end of each such year. If the solar energy system’s energy production is in excess of the estimate, we allow customers to keep the excess energy at no charge. After the initial term of the Customer Agreement, customers have the option to renew their contracts for the remaining life of the solar energy system, typically at a 10% discount to then-prevailing power prices, to purchase the system from us at its fair market value, or have us remove the system.
Regardless of the type of Customer Agreement our customers choose, we operate the system and agree to monitor and maintain it in good condition at no cost to the customer. We offer an industry-leading performance guarantee to ensure that our customers are receiving the energy they expect at the price they expect. Our customers also receive up to a ten-year warranty for roof penetrations.
If a customer sells his or her home, the customer has the right to purchase the system or assign the Customer Agreement to the new homeowner, provided the new homeowner meets our credit requirements and agrees to be bound by the terms and conditions of the Customer Agreement. In connection with this service transfer, the customer may prepay all or a portion of the remaining payments due under the Customer Agreement to lower or eliminate the monthly rate to be paid by the new homeowner. If the customer fails to purchase the system or assign the Customer Agreement to a new homeowner, we may negotiate directly with the new homeowner to transfer the Customer Agreement (at times on modified terms) and/or look to the original customer to pay all remaining payments due. We have completed thousands of service transfers and, from inception through December 31, 2020, the aggregate expected net present value of the Customer Agreements once assigned represented approximately 100% of what it was prior to assignment.
Sales and Marketing
We sell our solar energy offerings through a scalable sales organization using both a direct-to-consumer approach across online, retail, mass media, digital media, canvassing, field marketing and referral channels as well as our diverse partner network. We sell to customers over the phone, online, in the field through canvassing and in-home sales and through our strategic retail sales partnerships. We also partner with sales-only organizations that focus on direct-to-consumer marketing and sales on our behalf, typically with a Sunrun-branded offering at point of sale, which further increases our brand and reach. We also generate sales volume through customer referrals. Customer referrals increase in relation to our penetration in a market and shortly after market entry become an increasingly effective way to market our solar energy systems. We believe that a customized, customer-focused selling process is important before, during and after the sale of our solar services to maximize our sales success and customer experience.
We train our sales team to customize their consultative presentation to the individual customer based on guidelines and principles outlined in our training materials. We are able to provide our sales team with real-time data and pricing tools through our proprietary technology which is designed to generate a tailored product offering with optimized pricing based on the actual characteristics of a customer's home, including roof characteristics and shading, as well as actual energy usage. This allows our sales team to differentially price homes in the same geographic region quickly and effectively.
We purchase equipment, including solar panels, inverters and batteries from a limited number of manufacturers and suppliers. If we fail to maintain or expand our relationships with these suppliers and manufacturers, or if one or more that we rely upon to meet anticipated demand reduces or ceases production, it may be difficult to quickly identify and qualify alternatives on acceptable terms. In addition, equipment prices may increase in the coming years, or not decrease at the rates we historically have experienced, due to tariffs or other factors. As discussed in Item 1A. Risk Factors---"We have historically benefited from declining costs in our industry, and our business and financial results may be harmed not only as a result of any increases in costs associated with our solar service offerings but also any failure of these costs to continue to decline as we currently expect. If we do not reduce our cost structure in the future, our ability to continue to be profitable may be impaired.”--tariffs on both solar modules and inverters were imposed beginning in 2018. While these tariffs have not had a material negative impact on our business, we believe the tariffs were a contributing factor to smaller decreases to equipment costs than we would have otherwise experienced in 2020.
We believe that our primary competitors are the traditional utilities that supply electricity to our potential customers. We compete with these traditional utilities primarily based on price (cents per kilowatt hour), predictability of future prices (by providing pre-determined annual price escalations), the backup power capabilities of our BrightboxTM battery storage solution and the ease by which customers can switch to electricity generated by our solar energy systems.
We also compete with companies that are not regulated like traditional utilities but that have access to the traditional utility electricity transmission and distribution infrastructure pursuant to state and local pro-competitive and consumer choice policies and with solar companies with business models that are similar to ours. Some customers might choose to subscribe to a community solar project or renewable subscriber program with these companies or their utilities, instead of installing a solar energy system on their home, which could affect our sales. Additionally, some utilities offer generation portfolios that are increasingly renewable in nature. We believe that we compete favorably with these companies based on our unique multi-channel approach and differentiated customer experience.
We also face competition from purely finance-driven organizations that acquire customers and then subcontract out the installation of solar energy systems, from installation businesses that seek financing from external parties, from large construction companies and utilities and from sophisticated electrical and roofing companies.
As of December 31, 2020, we had 42 issued patents and 16 filed patent applications in the United States and foreign jurisdictions relating to a variety of aspects of our solar solutions. Our issued U.S. patents will expire 20 years from their respective filing dates, with the earliest expiring in 2029. We intend to file additional patent applications as we continue to innovate through our research and development efforts.
Although we are not regulated as a public utility in the United States under applicable national, state or other local regulatory regimes where we conduct business, we compete primarily with regulated utilities. As a result, we have developed and are committed to maintaining a policy team to focus on the key regulatory and legislative issues impacting the entire industry. We believe these efforts help us better navigate local markets through relationships with key stakeholders and facilitate a deep understanding of the national and regional policy environment.
To operate our systems, we obtain interconnection permission from the applicable local primary electric utility. Depending on the size of the solar energy system and local law requirements, interconnection permission is provided by the local utility directly to us and/or our customers. In almost all cases, interconnection permissions are issued on the basis of a standard process that has been pre-approved by the local public utility commission or other regulatory body with jurisdiction over net metering policies. As such, no additional regulatory approvals are required once interconnection permission is given.
Our operations are subject to stringent and complex federal, state and local laws, including regulations governing the occupational health and safety of our employees and wage regulations. For example, we are subject to the requirements of the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act, as amended (“OSHA”), the U.S. Department of Transportation (“DOT”), and comparable state laws that protect and regulate employee health and safety. We endeavor to maintain compliance with applicable DOT, OSHA and other comparable government regulations. However, we have in the past experienced workplace accidents and received citations from regulators resulting in fines, as discussed in Item 1A. Risk Factors--"Compliance with occupational safety and health requirements and best practices can be costly, and noncompliance with such requirements may result in potentially significant penalties, operational delays and adverse publicity.” These incidents have not had a material impact on our business or our relations with our employees.
Federal, state and local government bodies provide incentives to owners, distributors, system integrators and manufacturers of solar energy systems to promote solar energy in the form of rebates, tax credits, payments for renewable energy credits associated with renewable energy generation and exclusion of solar energy systems from property tax assessments. These incentives enable us to lower the price we charge customers for energy from, and to lease, our solar energy systems, helping to catalyze customer acceptance of solar energy as an alternative to utility-provided power. In addition, for some investors, the acceleration of depreciation creates a valuable tax benefit that reduces the overall cost of the solar energy system and increases the return on investment.
The federal government currently offers an investment tax credit (“Commercial ITC”) under Section 48(a) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the “Code”), for the installation of certain solar power facilities owned for business purposes. If construction on the facility began before January 1, 2020, the amount of the Commercial ITC available is 30%, if construction began during 2020, 2021, or 2022 the amount of the Commercial ITC available is 26%, and if construction begins during 2023 the amount of the Commercial ITC available is 22%. The Commercial ITC steps down to 10% if construction of the facility begins after December 31, 2023 or if the facility is not placed in service before January 1, 2026. The depreciable basis of a solar facility is also reduced by 50% of the amount of any Commercial ITC claimed. The Internal Revenue Service (the “IRS”) provided taxpayers guidance in Notice 2018-59 for determining when construction has begun on a solar facility. This guidance is relevant for any facilities which we seek to deploy in future years but take advantage of a higher tax credit rate available for an earlier year. For example, we have sought to avail ourselves of the methods set forth in the guidance to retain the 30% Commercial ITC that was available prior to January 1, 2020 by incurring certain costs and taking title to equipment in 2019 or early 2020 and/or by performing physical work on components that will be installed in solar facilities. From and after 2023, we may seek to avail ourselves of the 26% credit rate by using these methods to establish the beginning of construction in 2020, 2021, or 2022 and we may plan to similarly further utilize the program in future years if the Commercial ITC step down continues.
More than half of the states, and many local jurisdictions, have established property tax incentives for renewable energy systems that include exemptions, exclusions, abatements and credits. Many states also have adopted procurement requirements for renewable energy, and in 2018 the California Energy Commission and California Building Standards Commission approved a standard for newly constructed single-family and multifamily residences up to three stories tall to be solar-powered beginning in 2020. Approximately thirty states and the District of Columbia have adopted a renewable portfolio standard (and approximately eight other states have some voluntary goal) that requires regulated utilities to procure a specified percentage of total electricity delivered in the state from eligible renewable energy sources, such as solar energy systems, by a specified date. To prove compliance with such mandates, utilities must surrender solar renewable energy credits (“SRECs”) to the applicable authority. Solar energy system owners such as our investment funds often are able to sell SRECs to utilities directly or in SREC markets.
While there are numerous federal, state and local government incentives that benefit our business, some adverse interpretations or determinations of new and existing laws can have a negative impact on our business. For example, in the state of Texas, the Court of Appeals for the Fifth District of Texas at Dallas recently held that a personal property tax exemption on solar panels does not apply to solar panels that are leased (as opposed to owned), and counties in that district have subjected our leased solar panels to personal property taxes. That decision is currently being challenged; however, an adverse outcome will subject us to an increase in personal property taxes. If we pass this additional tax on to our customers in the form of higher prices, it could reduce or eliminate entirely any savings that these solar panels might otherwise provide to our customers in Texas.
Human Capital Management
We believe Sunrun’s employees are our core differentiators, embodying Sunrun values and a culture of conscious leadership, coming together to do their best work every day to enable our vision of a "planet run by the sun”.
At Sunrun, the foundation of all our talent programs and initiatives is fostering a culture of inclusive, connected and innovative teams. In 2020, we focused on building a shared identity and strengthening our culture of belonging, especially as we managed the integration of Vivint Solar and the challenges of COVID-19.
Conscious Leadership. To build a culture of inclusive leadership and develop our leaders, we recently launched a multi-phased conscious leadership training strategy. We are undertaking a process, beginning with a multi-month training, to build stronger leaders who are passionate about developing themselves and a strong culture of thoughtful leadership throughout the Company.
Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging. We believe that having a diverse workforce and an inclusive workplace better positions us to respond to the unique needs of our customers. We strengthened our efforts by hiring a new Head of Diversity, a new Head of Talent Management, and formed six Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) that have grown to a membership of over 800 employees as of December 31, 2020. These ERGs promote connection and communication among our employees, assist in the development and facilitation of programming that supports personal and professional development while also supporting the company’s objectives. Annually, as part of our larger impact report on environment, sustainability and governance, we share details on our strategies, focus areas, outcomes achieved and workforce demographics.
Human Capital. As of December 31, 2020, we had approximately 8,500 full-time employees, inclusive of our active direct-to-home salesforce. Our front-line sales and installation teams are 86% of our total workforce. We also engage independent contractors and consultants. None of our employees are covered by collective bargaining agreements. We have not experienced any work stoppages.
Supporting Our Employees through COVID-19. In response to COVID-19, we have established remote working arrangements, including work-from-home for certain employees and provided safety policies and protocols for our employees working in the field. Our management team has also implemented processes that facilitate frequent virtual interaction between individual employees and employee groups. Our cross functional task-force continues to monitor and recommend steps to help employees and our customers safely interact.
Our principal executive offices are located at 225 Bush Street, Suite 1400, San Francisco, California 94104, and our telephone number is (415) 580-6900. Our website address is www.sunrun.com. Information contained on, or that can be accessed through, our website does not constitute part of this Annual Report on Form 10-K and inclusions of our website address in this Annual Report on Form 10-K are inactive textual references only. We were formed in 2007 as a California limited liability company, and converted in 2008 into a Delaware corporation.
The Sunrun design logo, “Sunrun”, "Brightbox" and our other registered or common law trademarks, service marks or trade names appearing in this Annual Report on Form 10-K are the property of Sunrun Inc. Other trademarks and trade names referred to in this Annual Report on Form 10-K are the property of their respective owners.
We file annual reports on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, current reports on Form 8-K, and amendments to reports filed or furnished pursuant to Sections 13(a) and 15(d) of the Exchange Act. The SEC maintains a website at www.sec.gov that contains reports, proxy and information statements and other information that we file with the SEC electronically. Copies of our reports on Form 10-K, Forms 10-Q, Forms 8-K, and amendments to those reports may also be obtained, free of charge, electronically on the investor relations page on our website located at investors.sunrun.com as soon as reasonably practical after we file such material with, or furnish it to, the SEC.
We also use the investor relations page on our website as a channel of distribution for important company information. Important information, including press releases, analyst presentations and financial information regarding us, as well as corporate governance information, is routinely posted and accessible on the investor relations page on our website. Information on or that can be accessed through our website is not part of this Annual Report on Form 10-K, and the inclusion of our website address is an inactive textual reference only.
Item 1A. Risk Factors.
Investing in our common stock involves a high degree of risk. You should carefully consider the risks and uncertainties described below, together with all of the other information in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, including the section titled “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and our consolidated financial statements and related notes, before making a decision to invest in our common stock. The risks and uncertainties described below may not be the only ones we face. If any of the risks actually occur, our business, financial condition, results of operations, cash flows and prospects could be materially and adversely affected. In that event, the market price of our common stock could decline, and you could lose part or all of your investment.
Risks Related to the Impacts of COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic has had and could continue to have an adverse impact on our business, operations, and the markets and communities in which we operate. Efforts to mitigate or contain the pandemic and the resulting weakened economic conditions may disrupt and adversely affect our business.
The COVID-19 pandemic is having an unprecedented impact on the U.S. economy and has impacted our business and created significant uncertainties for our industry and the economy in general. As COVID-19 continues to spread and impact the country, effects such as the widespread growth in infections, travel restrictions, quarantines, return-to-work restrictions, government regulations, and site closures have impacted and may continue to impact our ability to staff sales and operations centers and install and maintain solar energy systems in the field, as well as direct-to-home sales activities of our Vivint Solar business. The mutation of different strains of the COVID-19 virus, potentially varying in degree of transmissibility and lethality, present further uncertainty, as does the timing, distribution, and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines.
Due to these impacts and uncertainties, we have run multiple scenarios to stress test our business and operations to evaluate the impact of significant reductions in demand, and restraints or regulations limiting our ability to sell and/or install our products in some or all jurisdictions in which we operate. Given these developments and mitigation measures that restrict certain paths to market our services, we have accelerated our transition to a more digital sales-focused model and reduced the size of certain parts of our workforce, particularly in our retail sales channels. We believe that the actions we have taken, and may continue to take in the future, to address these impacts will better position our company to manage these risks; however, we cannot ensure that the steps we have taken will be successful, and such steps may also disrupt our operations, impede our productivity, or otherwise be ineffective in a rapidly changing environment.
We are further responding by taking steps to mitigate the potential risks to us posed by the spread of COVID-19. For example, we have taken extra precautions for our employees who work in the field and for employees who continue to work in our facilities, including implementing social distancing policies, and have implemented work-from-home policies where appropriate. We have also implemented several protocols aimed at safeguarding customers. Because we provide a critical service to our customers, we believe that we must take steps aimed at keeping our employees and customers safe and minimizing unnecessary risk of exposure to the virus. Even with the mitigation strategies we have employed, we may not be successful in limiting the spread of COVID-19 among our employees or our customers, which could damage our reputation among our employee base and among our customers and materially and adversely impact our business.
In an effort to curtail the spread of the disease, various state and local jurisdictions have adopted executive orders, shelter-in-place orders, quarantines, and similar government orders and restrictions on the operations of many businesses and industries. In many such jurisdictions, we have been deemed an essential service, allowing us to continue our installation and field service operations. However, in 2020 certain jurisdictions temporarily enacted restrictions that prevented our field sales and installations, and it is possible that other jurisdictions could enact similar restrictions or curtail the scope of currently permitted operations. Following our acquisition of Vivint Solar, the impact of these and any additional restrictive orders could have an additional material adverse impact on our business given the importance of the direct-to-home sales model used by Vivint Solar.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also led to significant volatility in global financial markets, which could negatively affect our cost of and access to capital and could have an adverse impact on customer demand and the financial health and credit risk associated with our customers. Future disruptions or instability in capital markets could also negatively impact our ability to raise capital from third parties, such as tax equity partners, to grow our business. In addition, a recession or market correction resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic could adversely affect our business and the value of our common stock. The full economic impact of the pandemic and resulting restrictive governmental orders is still not known. Our customers may face reduced income, unemployment or increased medical bills as a result of the pandemic, which could negatively impact their ability to pay for our services and may cause potential new customers to delay or choose not to engage in a dialogue with us about our services, which may materially and adversely impact our business.
While COVID-19 has not significantly impacted our supply chain to date, we continue to monitor the situation closely and are working closely with our solar partners and suppliers to develop contingency plans for potential operations and supply chain interruptions.
The global COVID-19 pandemic continues to rapidly evolve. The ultimate impact of the pandemic is highly uncertain and subject to change. We do not yet know the full extent of potential delays or impacts on our business, operations or the global economy as a whole. However, these effects could have a material impact on our operations. We will continue to monitor developments affecting our workforce, our customers, and our business operations generally and will take additional actions that we determine are necessary in order to mitigate the impacts, however, any steps we take may be inadequate and, as a result, our business may be harmed.
Risks Related to the Solar Industry
The solar energy industry is an emerging market which is constantly evolving and may not develop to the size or at the rate we expect.
The solar energy industry is an emerging and constantly evolving market opportunity. We believe the solar energy industry will still take several years to fully develop and mature, and we cannot be certain that the market will grow to the size or at the rate we expect. For example, we have experienced increases in cancellations of our Customer Agreements in certain geographic markets during certain periods in our operating history. Any future growth of the solar energy market and the success of our solar service offerings depend on many factors beyond our control, including recognition and acceptance of the solar service market by consumers, the pricing of alternative sources of energy, a favorable regulatory environment, the continuation of expected tax benefits and other incentives, and our ability to provide our solar service offerings cost-effectively. If the markets for solar energy do not develop to the size or at the rate we expect, our business may be adversely affected.
Solar energy has yet to achieve broad market acceptance and depends in part on continued support in the form of rebates, tax credits, and other incentives from federal, state and local governments. If this support diminishes materially, our ability to obtain external financing on acceptable terms, or at all, could be materially adversely affected. These types of funding limitations could lead to inadequate financing support for the anticipated growth in our business. Furthermore, growth in residential solar energy depends in part on macroeconomic conditions, retail prices of electricity and customer preferences, each of which can change quickly. Declining macroeconomic conditions, including in the job markets and residential real estate markets, could contribute to instability and uncertainty among customers and impact their financial wherewithal, credit scores or interest in entering into long-term contracts, even if such contracts would generate immediate and long-term savings.
Furthermore, market prices of retail electricity generated by utilities or other energy sources could decline for a variety of reasons, as discussed further below. Any such declines in macroeconomic conditions, changes in retail prices of electricity or changes in customer preferences would adversely impact our business.
We have historically benefited from declining costs in our industry, and our business and financial results may be harmed not only as a result of any increases in costs associated with our solar service offerings but also any failure of these costs to continue to decline as we currently expect. If we do not reduce our cost structure in the future, our ability to continue to be profitable may be impaired.
Declining costs related to raw materials, manufacturing and the sale and installation of our solar service offerings have been a key driver in the pricing of our solar service offerings and, more broadly, customer adoption of solar energy. While historically the prices of solar panels and raw materials have declined, the cost of solar panels and raw materials could increase in the future, and such products’ availability could decrease, due to a variety of factors, including restrictions stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, tariffs and trade barriers, export regulations, regulatory or contractual limitations, industry market requirements, and changes in technology and industry standards.
For example, we and our solar partners purchased a significant portion of the solar panels used in our solar service offerings from overseas manufacturers. In January 2018, in response to a petition filed under Section 201 of the Trade Act of 1974, President Trump imposed four-year tariffs on imported solar modules and imported solar cells not assembled into other products (the “Section 201 Module Tariffs”) that apply to all imports above a 2.5 gigawatts (GW) annual threshold. The Section 201 Module Tariffs were 30% in 2018 and stepped down by 5% annually in the second, third and fourth years. In October 2020, President Trump issued a proclamation increasing the tariff from 15% to 18% for 2021, the final year under the original Sec. 201 proclamation imposing the tariffs. Additionally, President Trump authorized the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) to file a petition to extend the Sec. 201 tariffs, a decision on which could be made in the coming months.
The United States and China each imposed additional new tariffs in 2018 on various products imported from the other country. These include an additional 25% tariff on solar panels and cells that are manufactured in China and a tariff on inverters, certain batteries and other electrical equipment initially set at 10%. In May 2019, the 10% tariff was increased to 25%, and the Trump administration threatened additional incremental increases. The United States also has, from time to time, announced potential tariffs on goods imported from other countries. We cannot predict what actions may ultimately be taken with respect to tariffs or trade relations between the United States and other countries, what products may be subject to such actions, or what actions may be taken by the other countries in retaliation. The tariffs described above, the adoption and expansion of trade restrictions, the occurrence of a trade war, or other governmental action related to tariffs, trade agreements or related policies have the potential to adversely impact our supply chain and access to equipment, our costs and ability to economically serve certain markets. Any such cost increases or decreases in availability could slow our growth and cause our financial results and operational metrics to suffer. We cannot predict whether and to what extent U.S. trade policies will change under the Biden administration and cannot ensure that additional tariffs or other restrictive measures will not continue or increase.
Other factors may also impact costs, such as our choice to make significant investments to drive growth in the future.
We face competition from traditional energy companies as well as solar and other renewable energy companies.
The solar energy industry is highly competitive and continually evolving as participants strive to distinguish themselves within their markets and compete with large utilities. We believe that our primary competitors are the established utilities that supply energy to homeowners by traditional means. We compete with these utilities primarily based on price, predictability of price, and the ease by which homeowners can switch to electricity generated by our solar service offerings. If we cannot offer compelling value to customers based on these factors, then our business and revenue will not grow. Utilities generally have substantially greater financial, technical, operational and other resources than we do. As a result of their greater size, utilities may be able to devote more resources to the research, development, promotion and sale of their products or respond more quickly to evolving industry standards and changes in market conditions than we can. Furthermore, these competitors are able to devote substantially more resources and funding to regulatory and lobbying efforts.
Utilities could also offer other value-added products or services that could help them compete with us even if the cost of electricity they offer is higher than ours. In addition, a majority of utilities’ sources of electricity are non-solar, which may allow utilities to sell electricity more cheaply than we can. Moreover, regulated utilities are increasingly seeking approval to “rate-base” their own residential solar and storage businesses. Rate-basing means that utilities would receive guaranteed rates of return for their solar and storage businesses. This is already commonplace for utility scale solar projects and commercial solar projects. While few utilities to date have received regulatory permission to rate-base residential solar or storage, our competitiveness would be significantly harmed should more utilities receive such permission because we do not receive guaranteed profits for our solar service offerings.
We also face competition from other residential solar service providers. Some of these competitors have a higher degree of brand name recognition, differing business and pricing strategies, and greater capital resources than we have, as well as extensive knowledge of our target markets. If we are unable to establish or maintain a consumer brand that resonates with customers, maintain high customer satisfaction, or compete with the pricing offered by our competitors, our sales and market share position may be adversely affected, as our growth is dependent on originating new customers. We also face competitive pressure from companies that may offer lower-priced consumer offerings than we do.
In addition, we compete with companies that are not regulated like traditional utilities but that have access to the traditional utility electricity transmission and distribution infrastructure. These energy service companies are able to offer customers electricity supply-only solutions that are competitive with our solar service offerings on both price and usage of solar energy technology while avoiding the long-term agreements and physical installations that our current fund-financed business model requires. This may limit our ability to attract customers, particularly those who wish to avoid long-term contracts or have an aesthetic or other objection to putting solar panels on their roofs.
Furthermore, we face competition from purely finance-driven nonintegrated competitors that subcontract out the installation of solar energy systems, from installation businesses (including solar partners) that seek financing from external parties, from large construction companies and from electrical and roofing companies. In addition, local installers that might otherwise be viewed as potential solar partners may gain market share by being able to be the first providers in new local markets. Some of these competitors may provide energy at lower costs than we do. Finally, as declining prices for solar panels and related equipment has resulted in an increase in consumers purchasing instead of leasing solar energy systems, we face competition from companies that offer consumer loans for these solar panel purchases.
As the solar industry grows and evolves, we will continue to face existing competitors as well as new competitors who are not currently in the market (including those resulting from the consolidation of existing competitors) that achieve significant developments in alternative technologies or new products such as storage solutions, loan products, or other programs related to third-party ownership. Our failure to adapt to changing market conditions, to compete successfully with existing or new competitors and to adopt new or enhanced technologies could limit our growth and have a material adverse effect on our business and prospects.
A material drop in the retail price of utility-generated electricity or electricity from other sources would harm our business, financial condition, and results of operations.
A customer’s decision to buy solar energy from us is impacted by a desire to lower electricity costs. Decreases in the retail prices of electricity from utilities or other energy sources would harm our ability to offer competitive pricing and could harm our business. The price of electricity from utilities could decrease as a result of:
•the construction of a significant number of new power generation plants, including nuclear, coal, natural gas or renewable energy technologies;
•the construction of additional electric transmission and distribution lines;
•a reduction in the price of natural gas or other natural resources;
•energy conservation technologies and public initiatives to reduce electricity consumption;
•development of new energy technologies that provide less expensive energy, including storage; and
•utility rate adjustments and customer class cost reallocation.
A reduction in utility electricity prices would make the purchase of our solar service offerings less attractive. If the retail price of energy available from utilities were to decrease due to any of these or other reasons, we would be at a competitive disadvantage. As a result, we may be unable to attract new customers and our growth would be limited.
The production and installation of solar energy systems depends heavily on suitable meteorological and environmental conditions. If meteorological or environmental conditions are unexpectedly unfavorable, the electricity production from our solar service offerings may be below our expectations, and our ability to timely deploy new systems may be adversely impacted.
The energy produced and revenue and cash flows generated by a solar energy system depend on suitable solar and weather conditions, both of which are beyond our control. Furthermore, components of our systems, such as panels and inverters, could be damaged by severe weather or natural catastrophes, such as hailstorms, tornadoes, fires, or earthquakes. In these circumstances, we generally would be obligated to bear the expense of repairing the damaged solar energy systems that we own. Sustained unfavorable weather or environmental conditions also could unexpectedly delay the installation of our solar energy systems, leading to increased expenses and decreased revenue and cash flows in the relevant periods. Extreme weather conditions, as well as the natural catastrophes that could result from such conditions, can severely impact our operations by delaying the installation of our systems, lowering sales, and causing a decrease in the output from our systems due to smoke or haze. Weather patterns could change, making it harder to predict the average annual amount of sunlight striking each location where our solar energy systems are installed. This could make our solar service offerings less economical overall or make individual systems less economical. Any of these events or conditions could harm our business, financial condition, and results of operations.
Climate change may have long-term impacts on our business, our industry, and the global economy.
Climate change poses a systemic threat to the global economy and will continue to do so until our society transitions to renewable energy and decarbonizes. While our core business model seeks to accelerate this transition to renewable energy, there are inherent climate-related risks to our business operations. Warming temperatures throughout the United States, and in California in particular, have contributed to extreme weather, intense drought, and increased wildfire risks. These events have the potential to disrupt our business, our third-party suppliers, and our customers, and may cause us to incur additional operational costs. For instance, natural disasters and extreme weather events associated with climate change can impact our operations by delaying the installation of our systems, leading to increased expenses and decreased revenue and cash flows in the period. They can also cause a decrease in the output from our systems due to smoke or haze. Additionally, if weather patterns significantly shift due to climate change, it may be harder to predict the average annual amount of sunlight striking each location where our solar energy systems are installed. This could make our solar service offerings less economical overall or make individual systems less economical.
Our corporate mission is to create a planet run by the sun, and we seek to mitigate these climate-related risks not only through our core business model and sustainability initiatives, but also by working with organizations who are also focused on mitigating their own climate-related risks.
Risks Related to Our Operating Structure and Financing Activities
We need to raise capital to finance the continued growth of our operations and solar service business. If capital is not available to us on acceptable terms, as and when needed, our business and prospects would be materially and adversely impacted. In addition, our business is affected by general economic conditions and related uncertainties affecting markets in which we operate. Volatility in current economic conditions could adversely impact our business, including our ability to raise financing.
Our future success depends on our ability to raise capital from third parties to grow our business. To date, we have funded our business principally through low-cost tax equity investment funds. If we are unable to establish new investment funds when needed, or upon desirable terms, the growth of our solar service business would be impaired. Changes in tax law could also affect our ability to establish such tax equity investment funds, impact the terms of existing or future funds, or reduce the pool of capital available for us to grow our business.
The contract terms in certain of our existing investment fund documents contain various conditions with respect to our ability to draw on financing commitments from the fund investors, including conditions that restrict our ability to draw on such commitments if an event occurs that could reasonably be expected to have a material adverse effect on the fund or, in some instances, us. If we are not able to satisfy such conditions due to events related to our business, a specific investment fund, developments in our industry, including tax or regulatory changes, or otherwise, and as a result, we are unable to draw on existing funding commitments, we could experience a material adverse effect on our business, liquidity, financial condition, results of operations and prospects. If any of the investors that currently invest in our investment funds decide not to invest in future investment funds to finance our solar service offerings due to general market conditions, concerns about our business or prospects or any other reason, or materially change the terms under which they are willing to provide future financing, we would need to identify new investors to invest in our investment funds and our cost of capital may increase.
In addition, our business and results of operations are materially affected by conditions in the global capital markets and the economy. A general slowdown or volatility in current economic conditions, stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, the level of U.S. national debt, currency fluctuations, unemployment rates, the availability and cost of credit, the U.S. housing market, tariffs, trade wars, inflation levels, interest rates, energy costs, and concerns over a slowing economy or other factors, could adversely affect our business, including our ability to raise financing.
There can be no assurance that we will be able to continue to successfully access capital in a manner that supports the growth of our business. Certain sources of capital may not be available in the future, and competition for any available funding may increase. We cannot be sure that we will be able to maintain necessary levels of funding without incurring high funding costs, unfavorable changes in the terms of funding instruments or the liquidation of certain assets. If we are unable to continue to offer a competitive investment profile, we may lose access to these funds or they may only be available on less favorable terms than those provided to our competitors or currently provided to us. If we are unable to arrange new or alternative methods of financing on favorable terms, our business, liquidity, financial condition, results of operations, and prospects could be materially and adversely affected.
Rising interest rates would adversely impact our business.
Rising interest rates may increase our cost of capital. Our future success depends on our ability to raise capital from fund investors and obtain secured lending to help finance the deployment of our solar service offerings. Part of our business strategy is to seek to reduce our cost of capital through these arrangements to improve our margins, offset reductions in government incentives and maintain the price competitiveness of our solar service offerings. Rising interest rates may have an adverse impact on our ability to offer attractive pricing on our solar service offerings to customers, which could negatively impact sales of our solar energy offerings.
The majority of our cash flows to date have been from solar service offerings under Customer Agreements that have been monetized under various investment fund structures. One of the components of this monetization is the present value of the payment streams from customers who enter into these Customer Agreements. If the rate of return required by capital providers, including debt providers, rises as a result of a rise in interest rates, it will reduce the present value of the customer payment stream and consequently reduce the total value derived from this monetization. Any measures that we could take to mitigate the impact of rising interest rates on our ability to secure third-party financing could ultimately have an adverse impact on the value proposition that we offer customers.
We expect to incur substantially more debt in the future, which could intensify the risks to our business.
We and our subsidiaries expect to incur additional debt in the future, subject to the restrictions contained in our debt instruments. Some of our existing debt arrangements restrict our ability to incur additional indebtedness, including secured indebtedness, and we may be subject to similar restrictions under the terms of future debt arrangements. These restrictions could inhibit our ability to pursue our business strategies. Increases in our existing debt obligations would further heighten the debt related risk discussed above.
Furthermore, there is no assurance that we will be able to enter into new debt instruments on acceptable terms or at all. If we were unable to satisfy financial covenants and other terms under existing or new instruments, or obtain waivers or forbearance from our lenders, or if we were unable to obtain refinancing or new financings for our working capital, equipment, and other needs on acceptable terms if and when needed, our business would be adversely affected.
We may be required to make payments or contribute assets to our investors upon the occurrence of certain events, including one-time reset or true-up payments or upon the exercise of a redemption option by one of our tax equity investors.
Our investors in our tax equity investment funds typically advance capital to us based on, among other things, production capacity estimates. The models we use to calculate prepayments in connection with certain of our tax equity investment funds are updated at a fixed date occurring after placement in service of all applicable solar energy systems or an agreed upon date (typically within the first year of the applicable term) to reflect certain specified conditions, as they exist at such date including the ultimate system size of the equipment that was sold or leased to the tax equity investment fund, the cost thereof, and the date the equipment went into service. In some cases, these true-up models also incorporate any changes in law, which would include any reduction in rates (and thus any reduction in the benefits of depreciation). As a result of this true-up, applicable payments are resized, and we may be obligated to refund a portion of the tax equity investor’s prepayments or to contribute additional assets to the tax equity investment fund. In addition, certain of our tax equity fund investors have the right to require us to purchase their interests in the tax equity investment funds after a set period of time, generally at a price equal to the greater of a set purchase price or fair market value of the interests at the time of the repurchase. Any significant refunds, capital contributions, or purchases that we may be required to make could adversely affect our liquidity or financial condition.
Loan financing developments could adversely impact our business.
The third-party ownership structure, which we bring to market through our solar service offerings, continues to be the predominant form of system ownership in the residential solar market in many states. However, with the development of new loan financing products, we have seen a modest shift from leasing and power purchase arrangements to outright purchases of the solar energy system by the customer (i.e., a customer purchases the solar energy system outright instead of leasing the system or buying power from us). Continued increases in third-party loan financing products and outright purchases could result in the demand for long-term Customer Agreements to decline, which would require us to shift our product focus to respond to the market trend and could have an adverse effect on our business. In 2020, 2019, and 2018, the majority of our customers chose our solar service offerings as opposed to buying a solar energy system outright. Our financial model is impacted by the volume of customers who choose our solar service offerings, and an increase in the number of customers who choose to purchase solar energy systems (whether for cash or through third-party financing) may harm our business and financial results.
Additionally, as discussed above, further reductions in the Commercial ITC as scheduled may impact the attractiveness of solar energy to certain customers and could potentially harm our business. Further reductions in, eliminations of, or expirations of, governmental incentives such as the Residential Energy Efficiency Tax Credit could reduce the number of customers who choose to purchase our solar energy systems.
Servicing our debt requires a significant amount of cash to comply with certain covenants and satisfy payment obligations, and we may not have sufficient cash flow from our business to pay our substantial debt and may be forced to take other actions to satisfy our obligations under our indebtedness, which may not be successful.
We have substantial amounts of debt, including our Notes, the working capital facility and the non-recourse debt facilities entered into by our subsidiaries, as discussed in more detail in the section titled “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and our consolidated financial
statements, in each case, included in this periodic report. Our ability to make scheduled payments of the principal of, to pay interest on or to refinance our indebtedness depends on our future performance, which is subject to economic, financial, competitive, and other factors beyond our control. Our business may not continue to generate cash flow from operations in the future sufficient to service our debt and make necessary capital expenditures to operate our business. If we are unable to generate such cash flow, we may be required to adopt one or more alternatives, such as selling assets, restructuring debt or obtaining additional equity capital on terms that may be onerous or highly dilutive. Our ability to timely repay or otherwise refinance our indebtedness will depend on the capital markets and our financial condition at such time. We may not be able to engage in any of these activities or engage in these activities on desirable terms, which could result in a default on our debt obligations and negatively impact our financial condition and prospects.
Indebtedness under our Bank Line of Credit and certain of our Senior and Subordinated Debt Facilities bear interest at variable interest rates based on LIBOR. Changes in the method of determining LIBOR, or the replacement of LIBOR with an alternative reference rate, may adversely affect interest rates on our current or future indebtedness and may otherwise adversely affect our financial condition and results of operations.
In July 2017, the Financial Conduct Authority, the authority that regulates LIBOR, announced that it intended to stop compelling banks to submit rates for the calculation of LIBOR after 2021. The Alternative Reference Rates Committee (“ARRC”) in the U.S. has proposed that the Secured Overnight Financing Rate (“SOFR”) is the rate that represents best practice as the alternative to the U.S. dollar LIBOR for use in derivatives and other financial contracts that are currently indexed to LIBOR. ARRC has proposed a paced market transition plan to SOFR from U.S. dollar LIBOR and organizations are currently working on industry-wide and company-specific transition plans as relating to derivatives and cash markets exposed to U.S. dollar LIBOR. We have certain financial contracts, including our Bank Line of Credit and many of our Senior and Subordinated Debt Facilities, that are indexed to U.S. dollar LIBOR. Furthermore, changes in the method of determining LIBOR, or the replacement of LIBOR with an alternative reference rate, may adversely affect interest rates on our current or future indebtedness. Any transition process may involve, among other things, increased volatility or illiquidity in markets for instruments that rely on LIBOR, reductions in the value of certain instruments or the effectiveness of related transactions such as hedges, increased borrowing costs, uncertainty under applicable documentation, or difficult and costly consent or amendment processes. We are monitoring this activity and evaluating the related risks, and any such effects of the transition away from LIBOR may result in increased expenses, may impair our ability to refinance our indebtedness or hedge our exposure to floating rate instruments, or may result in difficulties, complications or delays in connection with future financing efforts, any of which could adversely affect our financial condition and results of operations.
We may not have the ability to raise the funds necessary to settle conversions of the Senior Convertible Notes in cash or to repurchase the Senior Convertible Notes upon a fundamental change, and our future debt may contain limitations on our ability to pay cash upon conversion or repurchase of the Senior Convertible Notes.
Holders of the Senior Convertible Notes (the “Notes”) will have the right to require us to repurchase all or a portion of their Notes upon the occurrence of a fundamental change under the indenture, which includes certain events such as a change of control, before the maturity date at a fundamental change repurchase price equal to 100% of the principal amount of the Notes to be repurchased, plus accrued and unpaid special interest, if any. In addition, upon conversion of the Notes, unless we elect to deliver solely shares of our common stock to settle such conversion (other than paying cash in lieu of delivering any fractional share), we will be required to make cash payments in respect of the Notes being converted. However, we may not have enough available cash or be able to obtain financing at the time we are required to make repurchases of Notes surrendered therefor or pay cash for Notes being converted. In addition, our ability to repurchase the Notes or to pay cash upon conversions of the Notes may be limited by law, by regulatory authority or by agreements governing our indebtedness at the time.
Our failure to repurchase Notes at a time when the repurchase is required by the indenture governing such Notes or to pay any cash payable on future conversions of the Notes as required by the indenture would constitute a default. A default under the indenture or the fundamental change itself could also lead to a default under agreements governing our existing or future indebtedness. If the repayment of the related indebtedness were to be accelerated after any applicable notice or grace periods, we may not have sufficient funds to repay the indebtedness and repurchase the Notes or make cash payments upon conversions thereof.
We are subject to counterparty risk with respect to the capped call transactions.
In connection with our issuance of the Notes in January 2021, we entered into privately negotiated capped call transactions (the “Capped Call transactions”) with certain financial institutions (the "option counterparties"). The option counterparties are financial institutions or affiliates of financial institutions, and we will be subject to the risk that one or more of such option counterparties may default under the Capped Call transactions. Our exposure to the credit risk of the option counterparties will not be secured by any collateral. If any option counterparty becomes subject to bankruptcy or other insolvency proceedings, with respect to such option counterparty’s obligations under the relevant Capped Call transaction, we will become an unsecured creditor in those proceedings with a claim equal to our exposure at that time under such transaction. Our exposure will depend on many factors but, generally, an increase in our exposure will be positively correlated to an increase in our common stock market price and in the volatility of the market price of our common stock. In addition, upon a default by any of the option counterparties, we may suffer adverse tax consequences and dilution with respect to our common stock. We can provide no assurance as to the financial stability or viability of any of the option counterparties.
Risks Related to Regulation and Policy
We rely on net metering and related policies to offer competitive pricing to customers in all of our current markets, and changes to such policies may significantly reduce demand for electricity from our solar service offerings.
As of December 31, 2020, a substantial majority of states have adopted net metering policies. Net metering policies are designed to allow homeowners to serve their own energy load using on-site generation. Electricity that is generated by a solar energy system and consumed on-site avoids a retail energy purchase from the applicable utility, and excess electricity that is exported back to the electric grid generates a retail credit within a homeowner’s monthly billing period. At the end of the monthly billing period, if the homeowner has generated excess electricity within that month, the homeowner typically carries forward a credit for any excess electricity to be offset against future utility energy purchases. At the end of an annual billing period or calendar year, utilities either continue to carry forward a credit, or reconcile the homeowner’s final annual or calendar year bill using different rates (including zero credit) for the exported electricity.
Utilities, their trade associations, and fossil fuel interests in the country are currently challenging net metering policies, and seeking to eliminate them, cap them, reduce the value of the credit provided to homeowners for excess generation, or impose charges on homeowners that have net metering. For example, on April 14, 2020, the New England Ratepayers Association filed a petition with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”), asking it to assert exclusive federal jurisdiction over state net metering programs. Such a declaratory order, if granted, would have encouraged legal challenges to state net metering programs and could have reduced the bill credits customers receive for the electricity they export to the grid. On July 16, 2020, FERC dismissed the petition unanimously on procedural grounds, but at least one commissioner indicated that FERC could revisit the issue of net metering jurisdiction in the future.
In October 2015 the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (the “Hawaii Commission”) issued an order that eliminates net metering for all new homeowners. All existing net metering customers and customers who submitted net metering applications before October 12, 2015 are grandfathered indefinitely under the old rules. Interim tariffs currently exist in Hawaii. Permanent tariffs are currently under consideration by the Hawaii Commission, and customers on the interim tariff may be switched over to these newer tariffs. We continue to sell, build, and service systems in Hawaii. The new programs in Hawaii are more complex, which decreases certainty in the economic value proposition we provide to customers and potentially slows down market growth. Recent proposals submitted by utility companies have proposed significant changes to the marketplace, such as utility ownership/control over solar systems, which may further detrimentally impact the economic value proposition to customers and slow down market growth.
In addition, in early 2016 we ceased new installations in Nevada in response to the elimination of net metering by the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada (“PUCN”). However, in September 2016, the PUCN issued an order making customers eligible for the prior net metering rules if they had installed a solar energy system or had submitted a net metering application prior to December 31, 2015. Furthermore, in June 2017, Nevada enacted legislation, AB 405, that restores net metering at a reduced credit and guarantees new customers receive the net metering rate in effect at the time they applied for interconnection for 20 years. As another example, in December 2016, the Arizona Corporation Commission (“ACC”) issued a decision to eliminate net metering for new solar customers and replace it with a net-feed in tariff (a fixed export rate). In May 2018, Connecticut enacted legislation to end the state’s net metering program upon the conclusion of the Residential Solar Investment Program, and replace it with two yet-to-be-determined rate structures. On June 28, 2019, legislation was signed into law delaying the implementation of these programs and continuing Connecticut’s net metering program through the end of 2021. In November 2017, the Utah Public Service Commission (“Utah PSC”) approved a settlement between the solar industry and Rocky Mountain Power, the main investor-owned utility in Utah. The agreement reduced the compensation customers receive for power exported to the grid by about 10% below the retail rate. The Utah PSC then initiated a case to quantify the value of power exported from behind-the-meter solar energy systems. In December 2020, after a three-year case, the Utah PSC established a new compensation rate at roughly 45% below the average retail rate.
Some states set limits on the total percentage of a utility’s customers that can adopt net metering. For example, South Carolina had a net metering cap that was eliminated in May 2019 when South Carolina enacted the Energy Freedom Act. The new law allows for regulatory review of net metering after two years, with changes to rate design to occur in June 2021. While Sunrun and Duke Energy have reached a settlement in South Carolina, the state’s Public Service Commission has not yet approved the deal. Conversely, Dominion has filed an anti-net energy metering plan that we will oppose strongly. Illinois has a threshold that triggers a commission process to determine what valuation of solar comes after net metering rate design. New Jersey currently has no net metering cap; however, it has a threshold that triggers commission review of its net metering policy. These policies could be subject to change in the future, and other states we serve now or in the future may adopt net metering caps. If the net metering caps in these jurisdictions are reached without an extension of net metering policies, homeowners in those jurisdictions will not have access to the economic value proposition net metering provides. Our ability to sell our solar service offerings may be adversely impacted by the failure to extend existing limits to net metering or the elimination of currently existing net metering policies. The failure to adopt a net metering policy where it currently is not in place would pose a barrier to entry in those states. Additionally, the imposition of charges that only or disproportionately impact homeowners that have solar energy systems, or the introduction of rate designs mentioned above, would adversely impact our business.
California’s Public Utilities Commission (“CPUC”) has made changes to rate design for solar customers, such as adopting "time of use" rates with different electricity prices during peak and off peak hours, as well as modifications to the minimum bill for solar customers. The CPUC is revisiting its net metering policy in a proceeding that began in the third quarter of 2020 and is expected to conclude near the end of 2021 and not take effect until sometime in 2022. The California investor-owned utilities, along with other parties, are seeking to reduce the level of compensation for customer-owned generation and to impose grid access fees on solar customers. Similarly, certain California municipal utilities, which are not regulated by the CPUC and would not be governed by the CPUC's net metering policy, have also announced they plan to review their net metering policies.
Electric utility statutes and regulations and changes to such statutes or regulations may present technical, regulatory and economic barriers to the purchase and use of our solar service offerings that may significantly reduce demand for such offerings.
Federal, state and local government statutes and regulations concerning electricity heavily influence the market for our solar service offerings and are constantly evolving. These statutes, regulations, and administrative rulings relate to electricity pricing, net metering, consumer protection, incentives, taxation, competition with utilities, and the interconnection of homeowner-owned and third party-owned solar energy systems to the electrical grid. These statutes and regulations are constantly evolving. Governments, often acting through state utility or public service commissions, change and adopt different rates for residential customers on a regular basis and these changes can have a negative impact on our ability to deliver savings, or energy bill management, to customers.
In addition, many utilities, their trade associations, and fossil fuel interests in the country, which have significantly greater economic, technical, operational, and political resources than the residential solar industry, are currently challenging solar-related policies to reduce the competitiveness of residential solar energy. Any adverse changes in solar-related policies could have a negative impact on our business and prospects.
Regulations and policies related to rate design could deter potential customers from purchasing our solar service offerings, reduce the value of the electricity our systems produce, and reduce any savings that our customers could realize from our solar service offerings.
All states regulate investor-owned utility retail electricity pricing. In addition, there are numerous publicly owned utilities and electric cooperatives that establish their own retail electricity pricing through some form of regulation or internal process. These regulations and policies could deter potential customers from purchasing our solar service offerings. For example, some utilities in states such as Arizona and Utah have sought and secured rate design changes that reduce credit for residential solar exports to below the retail rate and impose new charges for rooftop solar customers. Utilities in additional states may follow suit. Such rate changes can include changing rates to charge lower volume-based rates—the rates charged for kilowatt hours of electricity purchased by a residential customer—while raising unavoidable fixed charges that a homeowner is subject to when they purchase solar energy from third parties, and levying charges on homeowners based on their point of maximum demand during a month (referred to as “demand charge”). For example, the Arizona Public Service Company offers residential demand charge rate plans and if our solar customers have subscribed to those plans, they may not realize typical savings from our offerings. These forms of rate design could adversely impact our business by reducing the value of the electricity our solar energy systems produce compared to retail net metering, and reducing any savings customers realize by purchasing our solar service offerings. These proposals could continue or be replicated in other states. In addition to changes in general rates charged to all residential customers, utilities are increasingly seeking solar-specific charges (which may be fixed charges, capacity-based charges, or other rate charges). Any of these changes could materially reduce the demand for our offerings and could limit the number of markets in which our offerings are competitive with electricity provided by the utilities.
We are not currently regulated as a utility under applicable laws, but we may be subject to regulation as a utility in the future or become subject to new federal and state regulations for any additional solar service offerings we may introduce in the future.
Most federal, state, and municipal laws do not currently regulate us as a utility. As a result, we are not subject to the various regulatory requirements applicable to U.S. utilities. However, any federal, state, local or other applicable regulations could place significant restrictions on our ability to operate our business and execute our business plan by prohibiting or otherwise restricting our sale of electricity. These regulatory requirements could include restricting our sale of electricity, as well as regulating the price of our solar service offerings. For example, the New York Public Service Commission and the Illinois Power Agency have issued orders regulating distributed energy providers in certain ways as if they were energy service companies, which increases the regulatory compliance burden for us in such states. If we become subject to the same regulatory authorities as utilities in other states or if new regulatory bodies are established to oversee our business, our operating costs could materially increase.
Our business depends in part on the regulatory treatment of third-party-owned solar energy systems.
Our Customer Agreements are third-party ownership arrangements. Sales of electricity by third parties face regulatory challenges in some states and jurisdictions. These challenges pertain to issues such as whether third-party-owned systems qualify for the same rebates, tax exemptions or other non-tax incentives available for homeowner-owned solar energy systems, whether third-party-owned systems are eligible at all for these incentives, and whether third-party-owned systems are eligible for net metering and the associated significant cost savings. Adverse regulatory treatment of third-party ownership arrangements could reduce demand for our solar service offerings, adversely impact our access to capital and cause us to increase the price we charge customers for energy.
Interconnection limits or circuit-level caps imposed by regulators may significantly reduce our ability to sell electricity from our solar service offerings in certain markets or slow interconnections, harming our growth rate and customer satisfaction scores.
Interconnection rules establish the circumstances in which rooftop solar will be connected to the electricity grid. Interconnection limits or circuit-level caps imposed by regulators may curb our growth in key markets. Utilities throughout the country have different rules and regulations regarding interconnection and some utilities cap or limit the amount of solar energy that can be interconnected to the grid. Our systems do not provide power to customers until they are interconnected to the grid.
Interconnection regulations are based on claims from utilities regarding the amount of solar energy that can be connected to the grid without causing grid reliability issues or requiring significant grid upgrades. Although recent rulings from the Hawaii Utilities Commission have helped resolve some problems, historically, interconnection limits or circuit-level caps have slowed the pace of our installations in Hawaii. Similar interconnection limits could slow our future installations in Hawaii or other markets, harming our growth rate and customer satisfaction scores. Similarly, the California and Hawaii Public Utilities Commissions require the activation of some advanced inverter functionality to head off presumed grid reliability issues, which may require more expensive equipment and more oversight of the operation of the solar energy systems over time. As a result, these regulations may hamper our ability to sell our offerings in certain markets and increase our costs, adversely affecting our business, operating results, financial condition, and prospects. These advanced functions will become more commonplace as regions start to require 1547-2018 inverters, with activation of some advanced functions starting January 2022 in Maryland, Colorado and Arizona, with more to follow.
Risks Related to Our Business Operations
Our growth depends in part on the success of our relationships with third parties, including our solar partners.
A key component of our growth strategy is to develop or expand our relationships with third parties. For example, we are investing resources in establishing strategic relationships with market players across a variety of industries, including large retailers, to generate new customers. These programs may not roll out as quickly as planned or produce the results we anticipated. A significant portion of our business depends on attracting and retaining new and existing solar partners. Negotiating relationships with our solar partners, investing in due diligence efforts with potential solar partners, training such third parties and contractors, and monitoring them for compliance with our standards require significant time and resources and may present greater risks and challenges than expanding a direct sales or installation team. If we are unsuccessful in establishing or maintaining our relationships with these third parties, our ability to grow our business and address our market opportunity could be impaired. Even if we are able to establish and maintain these relationships, we may not be able to execute on our goal of leveraging these relationships to meaningfully expand our business, brand recognition and customer base. This would limit our growth potential and our opportunities to generate significant additional revenue or cash flows.
We and our solar partners depend on a limited number of suppliers of solar panels, batteries, and other system components to adequately meet anticipated demand for our solar service offerings. Any shortage, delay or component price change from these suppliers, or the acquisition of any of these suppliers by a competitor, could result in sales and installation delays, cancellations, and loss of market share.
We and our solar partners purchase solar panels, inverters, batteries, and other system components from a limited number of suppliers, making us susceptible to quality issues, shortages and price changes. If we or our solar partners fail to develop, maintain and expand our relationships with these or other suppliers, we may be unable to adequately meet anticipated demand for our solar service offerings, or we may only be able to offer our systems at higher costs or after delays. If one or more of the suppliers that we or our solar partners rely upon to meet anticipated demand ceases or reduces production, we may be unable to quickly identify alternate suppliers or to qualify alternative products on commercially reasonable terms, and we may be unable to satisfy this demand.
The acquisition of a supplier by one of our competitors could also limit our access to such components and require significant redesigns of our solar energy systems or installation procedures and have a material adverse effect on our business.
In particular, there is a limited number of suppliers of inverters, which are components that convert electricity generated by solar panels into electricity that can be used to power the home. For example, once we design a system for use with a particular inverter, if that type of inverter is not readily available at an anticipated price, we may incur delays and additional expenses to redesign the system. Further, the inverters on our solar energy systems generally carry only ten year warranties. If there is an inverter equipment shortage in a year when a substantial number of inverters on our systems need to be replaced, we may not be able to replace the inverters to maintain proper system functioning or may be forced to do so at higher than anticipated prices, either of which would adversely impact our business.
Similarly, there is a limited number of suppliers of batteries. Once we design a system for use with a particular battery, if that type of battery is not readily available from our supplier, we may incur delays and additional expenses to install the system or be forced to redesign the system.
There have also been periods of industry-wide shortage of key components, including solar panels, in times of rapid industry growth or regulatory change. For example, guidance from the IRS on the steps required for construction to be deemed to have commenced in time to qualify for federal investment tax credits resulted in significant module shortages in the market as utilities and large commercial customers started purchasing supplies in advance of the December 2019 deadline to qualify for a 30% Commercial ITC. Further, new or unexpected changes in rooftop fire codes or building codes may require new or different system components to satisfy compliance with such newly effective codes or regulations, which may not be readily available for distribution to us or our suppliers. The manufacturing infrastructure for some of these components has a long lead time, requires significant capital investment and relies on the continued availability of key commodity materials, potentially resulting in an inability to meet demand for these components and, as a result, could negatively impact our ability to install systems in a timely manner. Additionally, any decline in the exchange rate of the U.S. dollar compared to the functional currency of our component suppliers could increase our component prices. Any of these shortages, delays or price changes could limit our growth, cause cancellations or adversely affect our operating margins, and result in loss of market share and damage to our brand.
In addition, our supply chain and operations (or those of our partners) could be subject to events beyond our control, such as earthquakes, wildfires, flooding, hurricanes, tsunamis, typhoons, volcanic eruptions, droughts, tornadoes, the effects of climate change and related extreme weather, public health issues and pandemics, war, terrorism, government restrictions or limitations on trade, and geo-political unrest and uncertainties. For example, the COVID-19 pandemic is having an unprecedented impact on the U.S. economy and on our business, and the extent to which the COVID-19 pandemic may impact our supply chain and operations is uncertain. The extent of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our business and operations will depend on several factors, such as the duration, severity, and geographic spread of the outbreak and the extent of travel restrictions and business closures imposed in China, the United States, and other countries. In addition, human rights issues in foreign countries and the U.S. government response to them could disrupt our supply chain and operations. For example, allegations regarding forced labor in China and U.S. regulations to prohibit the importation of any goods derived from forced labor could affect our supply chain and operations.
As the primary entity that contracts with customers, we are subject to risks associated with construction, cost overruns, delays, customer cancellations, regulatory compliance and other contingencies, any of which could have a material adverse effect on our business and results of operations.
We are a licensed contractor in certain communities that we service, and we are ultimately responsible as the contracting party for every solar energy system installation. We may be liable, either directly or through our solar partners, to customers for any damage we cause to them, their home, belongings or property during the installation of our systems. For example, we, either directly or through our solar partners, frequently penetrate customers’ roofs during the installation process and may incur liability for the failure to adequately weatherproof such penetrations following the completion of construction. In addition, because the solar energy systems we or our solar partners deploy are high voltage energy systems, we may incur liability for any failure to comply with electrical standards and manufacturer recommendations.
For example, on December 2, 2020, the California Contractors State License Board (the “CSLB”) filed an administrative proceeding against Sunrun and certain of its officers related to an accident that occurred during an installation by one of our channel partners, Horizon Solar Power, which holds its own license with the CSLB. If this proceeding is not resolved in our favor, it could potentially result in fines, a public reprimand, probation or the suspension or revocation of our California Contractor’s License. We strongly deny any wrongdoing in the matter and intend to work cooperatively with the CSLB while vigorously defending ourselves in this action.
Completing the sale and installation of a solar energy system requires many different steps including a site audit, completion of designs, permitting, installation, electrical sign-off and interconnection. Customers may cancel their Customer Agreement, subject to certain conditions, during this process until commencement of installation, and we have experienced increased customer cancellations in certain geographic markets during certain periods in our operating history. We or our solar partners may face customer cancellations, delays or cost overruns which may adversely affect our or our solar partners’ ability to ramp up the volume of sales or installations in accordance with our plans. These cancellations, delays or overruns may be the result of a variety of factors, such as labor shortages or other labor issues, defects in materials and workmanship, adverse weather conditions, transportation constraints, construction change orders, site changes or roof conditions, geographic factors and other unforeseen difficulties, any of which could lead to increased cancellation rates, reputational harm and other adverse effects. For example, some customer orders are cancelled after a site visit if we determine that a customer needs to make repairs to or install a new roof, or that there is excessive shading on their property. If we continue to experience increased customer cancellations, our financial results may be materially and adversely affected.
In addition, the installation of solar energy systems and other energy-related products requiring building modifications are subject to oversight and regulation in accordance with national, state and local laws and ordinances relating to building, fire and electrical codes, safety, environmental protection, utility interconnection and metering, and related matters. We also rely on certain of our and our partners' employees to maintain professional licenses in many of the jurisdictions in which we operate, and our failure to employ properly licensed personnel could adversely affect our licensing status in those jurisdictions. It is difficult and costly to track the requirements of every individual authority having jurisdiction over our installations and to design solar energy systems to comply with these varying standards. Any new government regulations or utility policies pertaining to our systems may result in significant additional expenses to us and our customers and, as a result, could cause a significant reduction in demand for our solar service offerings.
We have a variety of stringent quality standards that we apply in the selection, supervision, and oversight of our third-party suppliers and solar partners. We exercise oversight over our partners through written agreements requiring compliance with the laws and requirements of all jurisdictions, including regarding safety and consumer protections, by oversight of compliance with these agreements, and enforced by termination of a partner relationship for failure to meet those obligations. However, because our suppliers and partners are third parties, ultimately, we cannot guarantee that they will follow our standards or ethical business practices, such as fair wage practices and compliance with environmental, safety and other local laws, despite our efforts to hold them accountable to our standards. A lack of demonstrated compliance could lead us to seek alternative suppliers or contractors, which could increase our costs and result in delayed delivery or installation of our products, product shortages or other disruptions of our operations. Violation of labor or other laws by our suppliers and solar partners or the divergence of a supplier’s or solar partner's labor or other practices from those generally accepted as ethical in the United States or other markets in which we do business could also attract negative publicity for us and harm our business, brand and reputation in the market.
We typically bear the risk of loss and the cost of maintenance, repair and removal on solar energy systems that are owned or leased by our investment funds.
We typically bear the risk of loss and are generally obligated to cover the cost of maintenance, repair and removal for any solar energy system that we sell or lease to our investment funds. At the time we sell or lease a solar energy system to an investment fund, we enter into a maintenance services agreement where we agree to operate and maintain the system for a fixed fee that is calculated to cover our future expected maintenance costs. If our solar energy systems require an above-average amount of repairs or if the cost of repairing systems were higher than our estimate, we would need to perform such repairs without additional compensation. If our solar energy systems, more than 40% of which were located in California as of December 31, 2020, are damaged as the result of a natural disaster beyond our control, losses could exceed or be excluded from, our insurance policy limits, and we could incur unforeseen costs that could harm our business and financial condition. We may also incur significant costs for taking other actions in preparation for, or in reaction to, such events. We purchase property insurance with industry standard coverage and limits approved by an investor’s third-party insurance advisors to hedge against such risk, but such coverage may not cover our losses.
Product liability claims against us could result in adverse publicity and potentially significant monetary damages.
If our solar service offerings, including our racking systems, photovoltaic modules, batteries, inverters, or other products, injured someone, we would be exposed to product liability claims. Because solar energy systems and many of our other current and anticipated products are electricity-producing devices, it is possible that customers or their property could be injured or damaged by our products, whether by product malfunctions, defects, improper installation or other causes. We rely on third-party manufacturing warranties, warranties provided by our solar partners and our general liability insurance to cover product liability claims and have not obtained separate product liability insurance. Our solar systems, including our photovoltaic modules, batteries, inverters, and other products, may also be subject to recalls due to product malfunctions or defects. Any product liability claim we face could be expensive to defend and divert management’s attention. The successful assertion of product liability claims against us could result in potentially significant monetary damages that could require us to make significant payments, as well as subject us to adverse publicity, damage our reputation and competitive position and adversely affect sales of our systems and other products. In addition, product liability claims, injuries, defects or other problems experienced by other companies in the residential solar industry could lead to unfavorable market conditions to the industry as a whole, and may have an adverse effect on our ability to attract customers, thus affecting our growth and financial performance.
Our business is concentrated in certain markets, putting us at risk of region-specific disruptions.
As of December 31, 2020, more than 40% of our customers were in California, and we expect many of our future installations to be in California, which could further concentrate our customer base and operational infrastructure. Accordingly, our business and results of operations are particularly susceptible to adverse economic, regulatory, political, weather and other conditions in this market, including the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, and in other markets that may become similarly concentrated, in particular the east coast, where we have seen significant growth recently.
Our corporate and sales headquarters are located in San Francisco, California, an area that has a heightened risk of earthquakes and nearby wildfires. We may not have adequate insurance, including business interruption insurance, to compensate us for losses that may occur from any such significant events, including damage to our solar energy systems. A significant natural disaster, such as an earthquake or wildfire, or a public health crisis, such as a pandemic, or civil unrest could have a material adverse impact on our business, results of operations and financial condition. In addition, acts of terrorism or malicious computer viruses could cause disruptions in our or our solar partners’ businesses or the economy as a whole. To the extent that these disruptions result in delays or cancellations of installations or the deployment of our solar service offerings, our business, results of operations and financial condition would be adversely affected.
The majority of the Vivint Solar business is conducted using the direct-to-home sales channel.
Historically, the Vivint Solar business’ primary sales channel has been a direct-to-home sales model. We are vulnerable to changes in laws and regulations related to direct sales and marketing that could impose additional limitations on unsolicited residential sales calls and may impose additional restrictions such as adjustments to our marketing materials and direct-selling processes, and new training for personnel. If additional laws and regulations affecting direct sales and marketing are passed in the markets in which we operate, it would take time to train our sales professionals to comply with such laws, and we may be exposed to fines or other penalties for violations of such laws. If we fail to compete effectively through our direct-selling efforts, our financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects could be adversely affected.
Expansion into new sales channels could be costly and time-consuming. As we enter new channels, we could be at a disadvantage relative to other companies who have more history in these spaces.
As we continue to expand into new sales channels, such as direct-to-home, homebuilder, retail, and e-commerce channels and adapt to a remote selling model, we have incurred and may continue to incur significant costs. In addition, we may not initially or ever be successful in utilizing these new channels. Furthermore, we may not be able to compete successfully with companies with a historical presence in such channels, and we may not realize the anticipated benefits of entering such channels, including efficiently increasing our customer base and ultimately reducing costs. Entering new channels also poses the risk of conflicts between sales channels. If we are unable to successfully compete in new channels, our operating results and growth prospects could be adversely affected.
Obtaining a sales contract with a potential customer does not guarantee that a potential customer will not decide to cancel or that we will not need to cancel due to a failed inspection, which could cause us to generate no revenue from a product and adversely affect our results of operations.
Even after we secure a sales contract with a potential customer, we (either directly or through our solar partners) must perform an inspection to ensure the home, including the rooftop, meets our standards and specifications. If the inspection finds repairs to the rooftop are required in order to satisfy our standards and specifications to install the solar energy system, and a potential customer does not want to make such required repairs, we would lose that anticipated sale. In addition, per the terms of our Customer Agreements, a customer maintains the ability to cancel before commencement of installation, subject to certain conditions. Any delay or cancellation of an anticipated sale could materially and adversely affect our financial results, as we may have incurred sales-related, design-related, and other expenses and generated no revenue.
The value of our solar energy systems at the end of the associated term of the lease or power purchase agreement may be lower than projected, which may adversely affect our financial performance and valuation.
We depreciate the costs of our solar energy systems over their estimated useful life of 35 years. At the end of the initial typically 20- or 25-year term of the Customer Agreement, customers may choose to purchase their solar energy systems, ask to remove the system at our cost or renew their Customer Agreements. Customers may choose to not renew or purchase for any reason, including pricing, decreased energy consumption, relocation of residence, or switching to a competitor product.
Furthermore, it is difficult to predict how future environmental regulations may affect the costs associated with the removal, disposal or recycling of our solar energy systems. If the value in trade or renewal revenue is less than we expect, we may be required to recognize all or some of the remaining unamortized costs. This could materially impair our future results of operations.
We are exposed to the credit risk of customers and payment delinquencies on our accounts receivables.
Our Customer Agreements are typically for 20 or 25 years and require the customer to make monthly payments to us. Accordingly, we are subject to the credit risk of customers. As of December 31, 2020, the average FICO score of our customers under a Customer Agreement with a monthly payment schedule remained at or above 740, which is generally categorized as a “Very Good” credit profile by the Fair Isaac Corporation. However, this may decline to the extent FICO score requirements under future investment funds are relaxed. While customer defaults have been immaterial to date, we expect that the risk of customer defaults may increase as we grow our business. Due to the immaterial amount of customer defaults to date, our reserve for this exposure is minimal, and our future exposure may exceed the amount of such reserves. If we experience increased customer credit defaults, our
revenue and our ability to raise new investment funds could be adversely affected. If economic conditions worsen, certain of our customers may face liquidity concerns and may be unable to satisfy their payment obligations to us on a timely basis or at all, which could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.
We may not realize the anticipated benefits of past or future investments, strategic transactions, or acquisitions, and integration of these acquisitions may disrupt our business and management.
We have in the past and may in the future, acquire companies, Project pipelines, Projects, SRECs, products, or technologies or enter into joint ventures or other strategic transactions. For example, we completed the acquisition of Vivint Solar on October 8, 2020. Also, in July 2020, we announced a venture with SK E&S Co., Ltd. and other affiliated companies focused on home electrification. We may not realize the anticipated benefits of past or future investments, strategic transactions, or acquisitions, and these transactions involve numerous risks that are not within our control. These risks include the following, among others:
•failure to satisfy the required conditions and otherwise complete a planned acquisition, joint venture or other strategic transaction on a timely basis or at all;
•legal or regulatory proceedings, if any, relating to a planned acquisition, joint venture or other strategic transaction and the outcome of such legal proceedings;
•difficulty in assimilating the operations and personnel of the acquired company, especially given our unique culture;
•difficulty in effectively integrating the acquired technologies or products with our current products and technologies;
•difficulty in maintaining controls, procedures and policies during the transition and integration;
•disruption of our ongoing business and distraction of our management and employees from other opportunities and challenges due to integration issues;
•difficulty integrating the acquired company’s accounting, management information and other administrative systems;
•inability to retain key technical and managerial personnel of the acquired business;
•inability to retain key customers, vendors and other business partners of the acquired business;
•inability to achieve the financial and strategic goals for the acquired and combined businesses;
•incurring acquisition-related costs or amortization costs for acquired intangible assets that could impact our results of operations;
•significant post-acquisition investments which may lower the actual benefits realized through the acquisition;
•potential failure of the due diligence processes to identify significant issues with product quality, legal, and financial liabilities, among other things;
•potential inability to assert that internal controls over financial reporting are effective; and
•potential inability to obtain, or obtain in a timely manner, approvals from governmental authorities, which could delay or prevent such acquisitions.
Our failure to address these risks, or other problems encountered in connection with our past or future investments, strategic transactions, or acquisitions, could cause us to fail to realize the anticipated benefits of these acquisitions or investments, cause us to incur unanticipated liabilities, and harm our business generally. Future acquisitions could also result in dilutive issuances of our equity securities, the incurrence of debt, contingent liabilities, amortization expenses, incremental expenses or the write-off of goodwill, any of which could harm our financial condition or results of operations, and the trading price of our common stock could decline.
Mergers and acquisitions are inherently risky, may not produce the anticipated benefits and could adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations.
If we are unsuccessful in developing and maintaining our proprietary technology, including our BrightPath software, our ability to attract and retain solar partners could be impaired, our competitive position could be harmed and our revenue could be reduced.
Our future growth depends on our ability to continue to develop and maintain our proprietary technology that supports our solar service offerings, including our design and proposal software, BrightPath. In addition, we rely, and expect to continue to rely, on licensing agreements with certain third parties for aerial images that allow us to efficiently and effectively analyze a customer’s rooftop for solar energy system specifications. In the event that our current or future products require features that we have not developed or licensed, or we lose the benefit of an existing license, we will be required to develop or obtain such technology through purchase, license or other arrangements. If the required technology is not available on commercially reasonable terms, or at all, we may incur additional expenses in an effort to internally develop the required technology. In addition, our BrightPath software was developed, in part, with U.S. federal government funding. When new technologies are developed with U.S. government funding, the government obtains certain rights in any resulting patents, including a nonexclusive license authorizing the government to use the invention for non-commercial purposes. These rights may permit the government to disclose certain confidential information related to BrightPath to third parties and to exercise “march-in” rights to use or allow third parties to use our patented technology. We are also subject to certain reporting and other obligations to the U.S. government in connection with funding for BrightPath. If we are unable to maintain our existing proprietary technology, our ability to attract and retain solar partners could be impaired, our competitive position could be harmed and our revenue could be reduced.
Disruptions to our solar production metering solution could negatively impact our revenue and increase our expenses.
Our ability to monitor solar energy production for various purposes depends on the operation of our metering solution. We could incur significant expense and disruption to our operations in connection with failures of our metering solution, including meter hardware failures and failure or obsolescence of the cellular technology that we use to communicate with those meters. For example, many of our meters operate on either the 3G or 4G cellular data networks, which are expected to sunset before the term of our Customer Agreements, and newer technologies we use today may become obsolete before the end of the term of Customer Agreements entered into now. Upgrading our metering solution may cause us to incur significant expense. Additionally, our meters communicate data through proprietary software, which we license from our metering partners. Should we be unable to continue to license, on agreeable terms, the software necessary to communicate with our meters, it could cause a significant disruption in our business and operations.
Problems with product quality or performance may cause us to incur warranty expenses and performance guarantee expenses, may lower the residual value of our solar energy systems and may damage our market reputation and cause our financial results to decline.
Customers who enter into Customer Agreements with us are covered by production guarantees and roof penetration warranties. As the owners of the solar energy systems, we or our investment funds receive a warranty from the inverter and solar panel manufacturers, and, for those solar energy systems that we do not install directly, we receive workmanship and material warranties as well as roof penetration warranties from our solar partners. For example, in 2014 and 2015, we had to replace a significant number of defective inverters, the cost of which was borne by the manufacturer. However, our customers were without solar service for a period of time while the work was done, which impacted customer satisfaction. Furthermore, one or more of our third-party manufacturers or solar partners could cease operations and no longer honor these warranties, leaving us to fulfill these potential obligations to customers, or such warranties may be limited in scope and amount, and may be inadequate to protect us. We also provide a performance guarantee with certain solar service offerings pursuant to which we compensate
customers on an annual basis if their system does not meet the electricity production guarantees set forth in their agreement with us. Customers who enter into Customer Agreements with us are covered by production guarantees equal to the length of the term of these agreements, typically 20 or 25 years. We may suffer financial losses associated if significant performance guarantee payments are triggered.
Because of our limited operating history and the length of the term of our Customer Agreements, we have been required to make assumptions and apply judgments regarding a number of factors, including our anticipated rate of warranty claims and the durability, performance and reliability of our solar energy systems. Our assumptions could prove to be materially different from the actual performance of our systems, causing us to incur substantial expense to repair or replace defective solar energy systems in the future or to compensate customers for systems that do not meet their production guarantees. Product failures or operational deficiencies also would reduce our revenue from power purchase or lease agreements because they are dependent on system production. Any widespread product failures or operating deficiencies may damage our market reputation and adversely impact our financial results.
Our business may be harmed if we fail to properly protect our intellectual property, and we may also be required to defend against claims or indemnify others against claims that our intellectual property infringes on the intellectual property rights of third parties.
We believe that the success of our business depends in part on our proprietary technology, including our software, information, processes and know-how. We rely on copyright, trade secret and patent protections to secure our intellectual property rights. Although we may incur substantial costs in protecting our technology, we cannot be certain that we have adequately protected or will be able to adequately protect it, that our competitors will not be able to utilize our existing technology or develop similar technology independently, that the claims allowed with respect to any patents held by us will be broad enough to protect our technology or that foreign intellectual property laws will adequately protect our intellectual property rights. Moreover, we cannot be certain that our patents provide us with a competitive advantage. Despite our precautions, it may be possible for third parties to obtain and use our intellectual property without our consent. Unauthorized use of our intellectual property by third parties, and the expenses incurred in protecting our intellectual property rights, may adversely affect our business. In the future, some of our products could be alleged to infringe existing patents or other intellectual property of third parties, and we cannot be certain that we will prevail in any intellectual property dispute. In addition, any future litigation required to enforce our patents, to protect our trade secrets or know-how or to defend us or indemnify others against claimed infringement of the rights of third parties could harm our business, financial condition, and results of operations.
We use “open source” software in our solutions, which may require that we release the source code of certain software subject to open source licenses or subject us to possible litigation or other actions that could adversely affect our business.
We utilize software that is licensed under so-called “open source,” “free” or other similar licenses. Open source software is made available to the general public on an “as-is” basis under the terms of a non-negotiable license. We currently combine our proprietary software with open source software but not in a manner that we believe requires the release of the source code of our proprietary software to the public. However, our use of open source software may entail greater risks than use of third-party commercial software. Open source licensors generally do not provide warranties or other contractual protections regarding infringement claims or the quality of the code. In addition, if we combine our proprietary software with open source software in a certain manner, we could, under certain open source licenses, be required to release the source code of our proprietary software to the public. This would allow our competitors to create similar offerings with lower development effort and time.
We may also face claims alleging noncompliance with open source license terms or infringement or misappropriation of proprietary software. These claims could result in litigation, require us to purchase a costly license or require us to devote additional research and development resources to change our software, any of which would have a negative effect on our business and results of operations. In addition, if the license terms for open source software that we use change, we may be forced to re-engineer our solutions, incur additional costs or discontinue the use of these solutions if re-engineering cannot be accomplished on a timely basis. Although we monitor our use of open source software to avoid subjecting our offerings to unintended conditions, few courts have interpreted open source licenses, and there is a risk that these licenses could be construed in a way that could impose unanticipated conditions or restrictions on our ability to use our proprietary software. We cannot guarantee that we have incorporated or will incorporate open source software in our software in a manner that will not subject us to liability or in a manner that is consistent with our current policies and procedures.
Any security breach or unauthorized disclosure or theft of personal information we gather, store and use, or other hacking and phishing attacks on our systems, could harm our reputation, subject us to claims or litigation, and have an adverse impact on our business.
We receive, store and use personal information of customers, including names, addresses, e-mail addresses, credit information and other housing and energy use information, as well as the personal information of our employees. Unauthorized disclosure of such personal information, whether through breach of our systems by an unauthorized party, employee theft or misuse, or otherwise, could harm our business. In addition, computer malware, viruses, social engineering (predominantly spear phishing attacks), and general hacking have become more prevalent, have occurred on our systems in the past, and could occur on our systems in the future. Inadvertent disclosure of such personal information, or if a third party were to gain unauthorized access to the personal information in our possession, has resulted in, and could result in future claims or litigation arising from damages suffered by such individuals. In addition, we could incur significant costs in complying with the multitude of federal, state and local laws regarding the unauthorized disclosure of personal information. Our efforts to protect such personal information may be unsuccessful due to software bugs or other technical malfunctions; employees, contractor, or vendor error or malfeasance; or other threats that evolve. In addition, third parties may attempt to fraudulently induce employees or users to disclose sensitive information. Although we have developed systems and processes that are designed to protect the personal information we receive, store and use and to prevent or detect security breaches, we cannot assure you that such measures will provide absolute security. Finally, any perceived or actual unauthorized disclosure of such information could harm our reputation, substantially impair our ability to attract and retain customers and have an adverse impact on our business.
While we currently maintain cybersecurity insurance, such insurance may not be sufficient to cover us against claims, and we cannot be certain that cyber insurance will continue to be available to us on economically reasonable terms, or at all, or that any insurer will not deny coverage as to any future claim.
Our business is subject to complex and evolving laws and regulations regarding privacy and data protection (“data protection laws”). Many of these laws and regulations are subject to change and uncertain interpretation, and could result in claims, increased cost of operations, or otherwise harm our business.
The regulatory environment surrounding data privacy and protection is constantly evolving and can be subject to significant change. New data protection laws, including recent California legislation and regulation which affords California consumers an array of new rights, including the right to be informed about what kinds of personal data companies have collected and why it was collected, pose increasingly complex compliance challenges and potentially elevate our costs. Complying with varying jurisdictional requirements could increase the costs and complexity of compliance, and violations of applicable data protection laws could result in significant penalties. Any failure, or perceived failure, by us to comply with applicable data protection laws could result in proceedings or actions brought against us by governmental entities or others, subject us to significant fines, penalties, judgments and negative publicity, require us to change our business practices, increase the costs and complexity of compliance, and adversely affect our business.
Damage to our brand and reputation or failure to expand our brand would harm our business and results of operations.
We depend significantly on our brand and reputation for high-quality solar service offerings, engineering and customer service to attract customers and grow our business. If we fail to continue to deliver our solar service offerings within the planned timelines, if our solar service offerings do not perform as anticipated or if we damage any customers’ properties or cancel Projects, our brand and reputation could be significantly impaired. We also depend greatly on referrals from customers for our growth. Therefore, our inability to meet or exceed customers’ expectations would harm our reputation and growth through referrals. We have at times focused particular attention on expeditiously growing our direct sales force and our solar partners, leading us in some instances to hire personnel or partner with third parties who we may later determine do not fit our company culture and standards. Given the sheer volume of interactions our direct sales force and our solar partners have with customers and potential customers, it is also unavoidable that some interactions will be perceived by customers and potential customers as less than satisfactory and result in complaints. If we cannot manage our hiring and training processes to limit potential issues and maintain appropriate customer service levels, our brand and reputation may be harmed and our ability to grow our business would suffer. In addition, if we were unable to achieve a similar level of brand recognition as our competitors, some of which may have a broader brand footprint, more resources and longer
operational history, we could lose recognition in the marketplace among prospective customers, suppliers and partners, which could affect our growth and financial performance. Our growth strategy involves marketing and branding initiatives that will involve incurring significant expenses in advance of corresponding revenue. We cannot assure you that such marketing and branding expenses will result in the successful expansion of our brand recognition or increase our revenue. We are also subject to marketing and advertising regulations in various jurisdictions, and overly restrictive conditions on our marketing and advertising activities may inhibit the sales of the affected products.
A failure to hire and retain a sufficient number of employees and service providers in key functions would constrain our growth and our ability to timely complete customers’ Projects and successfully manage customer accounts.
To support our growth, we need to hire, train, deploy, manage and retain a substantial number of skilled employees, engineers, installers, electricians, sales and project finance specialists. Competition for qualified personnel in our industry is increasing, particularly for skilled personnel involved in the installation of solar energy systems. We have in the past been, and may in the future be, unable to attract or retain qualified and skilled installation personnel or installation companies to be our solar partners, which would have an adverse effect on our business. We and our solar partners also compete with the homebuilding and construction industries for skilled labor. As these industries grow and seek to hire additional workers, our cost of labor may increase. The unionization of the industry’s labor force could also increase our labor costs. Shortages of skilled labor could significantly delay a project or otherwise increase our costs. Because our profit on a particular installation is based in part on assumptions as to the cost of such project, cost overruns, delays or other execution issues may cause us to not achieve our expected margins or cover our costs for that project. In addition, because we are headquartered in the San Francisco Bay Area, we compete for a limited pool of technical and engineering resources that requires us to pay wages that are competitive with relatively high regional standards for employees in these fields. Further, we need to continue to expand upon the training of our customer service team to provide high-end account management and service to customers before, during and following the point of installation of our solar energy systems. Identifying and recruiting qualified personnel and training them requires significant time, expense and attention. It can take several months before a new customer service team member is fully trained and productive at the standards that we have established. If we are unable to hire, develop and retain talented technical and customer service personnel, we may not be able to realize the expected benefits of this investment or grow our business.
In addition, to support the growth and success of our direct-to-consumer channel, we need to recruit, retain and motivate a large number of sales personnel on a continuing basis. We compete with many other companies for qualified sales personnel, and it could take many months before a new salesperson is fully trained on our solar service offerings. If we are unable to hire, develop and retain qualified sales personnel or if they are unable to achieve desired productivity levels, we may not be able to compete effectively.
If we or our solar partners cannot meet our hiring, retention and efficiency goals, we may be unable to complete customers’ Projects on time or manage customer accounts in an acceptable manner or at all. Any significant failures in this regard would materially impair our growth, reputation, business and financial results. If we are required to pay higher compensation than we anticipate, these greater expenses may also adversely impact our financial results and the growth of our business.
The loss of one or more members of our senior management or key employees may adversely affect our ability to implement our strategy.
We depend on our experienced management team, and the loss of one or more key executives could have a negative impact on our business. In particular, we are dependent on the services of our chief executive officer and co-founder, Lynn Jurich, and our Chairman and co-founder, Edward Fenster. We also depend on our ability to retain and motivate key employees and attract qualified new employees. Neither our founders nor our key employees are bound by employment agreements for any specific term, and we may be unable to replace key members of our management team and key employees in the event we lose their services. Integrating new employees into our management team could prove disruptive to our operations, require substantial resources and management attention and ultimately prove unsuccessful. An inability to attract and retain sufficient managerial personnel who have critical industry experience and relationships could limit or delay our strategic efforts, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, and results of operations.
We are subject to legal proceedings, regulatory inquiries and litigation, and we have previously been, and may in the future be, named in additional legal proceedings, become involved in regulatory inquiries or be subject to litigation in the future, all of which are costly, distracting to our core business and could result in an unfavorable outcome, or a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations, or the trading price for our securities.
We are involved in legal proceedings and receive inquiries from government and regulatory agencies from time to time. In the event that we are involved in significant disputes or are the subject of a formal action by a regulatory agency, we could be exposed to costly and time-consuming legal proceedings that could result in any number of outcomes. Although outcomes of such actions vary, any current or future claims or regulatory actions initiated by or against us, whether successful or not, could result in significant costs, costly damage awards or settlement amounts, injunctive relief, increased costs of business, fines or orders to change certain business practices, significant dedication of management time, diversion of significant operational resources, or otherwise harm our business.
If we are not successful in our legal proceedings and litigation, we may be required to pay significant monetary damages, which could hurt our results of operations. Lawsuits are time-consuming and expensive to resolve and divert management’s time and attention. Although we carry general liability insurance, our insurance may not cover potential claims or may not be adequate to indemnify us for all liability that may be imposed. We cannot predict how the courts will rule in any potential lawsuit against us. Decisions in favor of parties that bring lawsuits against us could subject us to significant liability for damages, adversely affect our results of operations and harm our reputation.
A failure to comply with laws and regulations relating to our interactions with current or prospective residential customers could result in negative publicity, claims, investigations, and litigation, and adversely affect our financial performance.
Our business involves transactions with customers. We and our solar partners must comply with numerous federal, state and local laws and regulations that govern matters relating to our interactions with customers, including those pertaining to privacy and data security, consumer financial and credit transactions, home improvement contracts, warranties and direct-to-home solicitation, along with certain rules and regulations specific to the marketing and sale of residential solar products and services. These laws and regulations are dynamic and subject to potentially differing interpretations, and various federal, state and local legislative and regulatory bodies may expand current laws or regulations, or enact new laws and regulations, regarding these matters. Changes in these laws or regulations or their interpretation could dramatically affect how we do business, acquire customers, and manage and use information we collect from and about current and prospective customers and the costs associated therewith. We strive to comply with all applicable laws and regulations relating to our interactions with residential customers. It is possible, however, that these requirements may be interpreted and applied in a manner that is inconsistent from one jurisdiction to another and may conflict with other rules or our practices. Noncompliance with any such laws or regulations, or the perception that we or our solar partners have violated such laws or regulations or engaged in deceptive practices that could result in a violation, could also expose us to claims, proceedings, litigation and investigations by private parties and regulatory authorities, as well as substantial fines and negative publicity, each of which may materially and adversely affect our business. We have incurred, and will continue to incur, significant expenses to comply with such laws and regulations, and increased regulation of matters relating to our interactions with residential customers could require us to modify our operations and incur significant additional expenses, which could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition, and results of operations.
Any investigations, actions, adoption or amendment of regulations relating to the marketing of our products to residential consumers could divert management’s attention from our business, require us to modify our operations and incur significant additional expenses, which could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition, and results of operations or could reduce the number of our potential customers.
We cannot ensure that our sales professionals and other personnel will always comply with our standard practices and policies, as well as applicable laws and regulations. In any of the numerous interactions between our sales professionals or other personnel and our customers or potential customers, our sales professionals or other personnel may, without our knowledge and despite our efforts to effectively train them and enforce compliance, engage in conduct that is or may be prohibited under our standard practices and policies and applicable laws and regulations. Any such non-compliance, or the perception of non-compliance, has exposed us to claims and could
expose us to additional claims, proceedings, litigation, investigations, or enforcement actions by private parties or regulatory authorities, as well as substantial fines and negative publicity, each of which may materially and adversely affect our business and reputation. We have incurred, and will continue to incur, significant expenses to comply with the laws, regulations and industry standards that apply to us.
Compliance with occupational safety and health requirements and best practices can be costly, and noncompliance with such requirements may result in potentially significant penalties, operational delays and adverse publicity.
The installation of solar energy systems requires our employees and employees of our solar partners to work with complicated and potentially dangerous electrical and utility systems. The evaluation and installation of our energy-related products also require these employees to work in locations that may contain potentially dangerous levels of asbestos, lead or mold or other substances. We also maintain large fleets of vehicles that these employees use in the course of their work. There is substantial risk of serious illness, injury, or death if proper safety procedures are not followed. Our operations are subject to regulation under the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Act ("OSHA") and equivalent state laws. Changes to OSHA requirements, or stricter interpretation or enforcement of existing laws or regulations, could result in increased costs. If we fail to comply with applicable OSHA regulations, even if no work-related serious illness, injury, or death occurs, we may be subject to civil or criminal enforcement and be required to pay substantial penalties, incur significant capital expenditures, or suspend or limit operations. Any accidents, citations, violations, illnesses, injuries or failure to comply with industry best practices may subject us to adverse publicity, damage our reputation and competitive position and adversely affect our business.
If our products do not work as well as planned or if we are unsuccessful in developing and selling new products or in penetrating new markets, our business, financial condition, and results of operations could be adversely affected.
Our success and ability to compete are dependent on the products that we have developed or may develop in the future. There is a risk that the products that we have developed or may develop may not work as intended, or that the marketing of the products may not be as successful as anticipated. The development of new products generally requires substantial investment and can require long development and testing periods before they are commercially viable. We intend to continue to make substantial investments in developing new products and it is possible that that we may not develop or acquire new products or product enhancements that compete effectively within our target markets or differentiate our products based on functionality, performance or cost and thus our new technologies and products may not result in meaningful revenue. In addition, any delays in developing and releasing new or enhanced products could cause us to lose revenue opportunities and potential customers. Any technical flaws in product releases could diminish the innovative impact of our products and have a negative effect on customer adoption and our reputation. If we fail to introduce new products that meet the demands of our customers or target markets or do not achieve market acceptance, or if we fail to penetrate new markets, our business, financial conditions and results of operations could be adversely affected.
If we fail to manage our recent and future growth effectively, we may be unable to execute our business plan, maintain high levels of customer service, or adequately address competitive challenges.
We have experienced significant growth in recent periods, including as a result of our recent acquisition of Vivint Solar, and we intend to continue to expand our business within existing markets and in a number of new locations in the future. This growth has placed, and any future growth may continue to place, a significant strain on our management, operational and financial infrastructure. In particular, we have been in the past, and may in the future, be required to expand, train and manage our growing employee base and solar partners. Our management will also be required to maintain and expand our relationships with customers, suppliers, and other third parties and attract new customers and suppliers, as well as to manage multiple geographic locations.
In addition, our current and planned operations, personnel, systems and procedures might be inadequate to support our future growth and may require us to make additional unanticipated investment in our infrastructure, including additional costs for the expansion of our employee base and our solar partners as well as marketing and branding costs. Our success and ability to further scale our business will depend, in part, on our ability to manage these changes in a cost-effective and efficient manner. If we cannot manage our growth, we may be unable to take advantage of market opportunities, execute our business strategies or respond to competitive pressures. This could also result in declines in quality or customer satisfaction, increased costs, difficulties in introducing new solar service offerings or other operational difficulties. Any failure to effectively manage growth could adversely impact our business and reputation.
It is difficult to evaluate our business and prospects due to our limited operating history.
Our limited operating history, particularly as a publicly traded company, combined with the rapidly evolving and competitive nature of our industry, may not provide an adequate basis for you to evaluate our results of operations and business prospects. We cannot assure you that we will continue to be successful in generating revenue from our current solar service offerings or from any additional solar service offerings we may introduce in the future. In addition, we only have limited insight into emerging trends, such as alternative energy sources, commodity prices in the overall energy market, and legal and regulatory changes that impact the solar industry, any of which could adversely impact our business, prospects and results of operations.
We have incurred losses and may be unable to sustain profitability in the future.
We have incurred net losses in the past and may continue to incur net losses as we increase our spending to finance the expansion of our operations, expand our installation, engineering, administrative, sales and marketing staffs, increase spending on our brand awareness and other sales and marketing initiatives, make significant investments to drive future growth in our business and implement internal systems and infrastructure to support our growth. We do not know whether our revenue will grow rapidly enough to absorb these costs and our limited operating history makes it difficult to assess the extent of these expenses or their impact on our results of operations. Our ability to sustain profitability depends on a number of factors, including but not limited to:
•mitigating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our business;
•growing our customer base;
•finding investors willing to invest in our investment funds on favorable terms;
•maintaining or further lowering our cost of capital;
•reducing the cost of components for our solar service offerings;
•growing and maintaining our channel partner network;
•maintaining high levels of product quality, performance, and customer satisfaction;
•successfully integrating the Vivint Solar business;
•growing our direct-to-consumer business to scale; and
•reducing our operating costs by lowering our customer acquisition costs and optimizing our design and installation processes and supply chain logistics.
Even if we do sustain profitability, we may be unable to achieve positive cash flows from operations in the future.
Our results of operations may fluctuate from quarter to quarter, which could make our future performance difficult to predict and could cause our results of operations for a particular period to fall below expectations, resulting in a decline in the price of our common stock.
Our quarterly results of operations are difficult to predict and may fluctuate significantly in the future. We have experienced seasonal and quarterly fluctuations in the past and expect these fluctuations to continue. However, given that we are operating in a rapidly changing industry, those fluctuations may be masked by our recent growth rates and thus may not be readily apparent from our historical results of operations. As such, our past quarterly results of operations may not be good indicators of likely future performance.
In addition to the other risks described in this “Risk Factors” section, as well as the factors discussed in the “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” section, the following factors, among others, could cause our results of operations and key performance indicators to fluctuate:
•the expiration, reduction or initiation of any governmental tax rebates, tax exemptions, or incentives;
•significant fluctuations in customer demand for our solar service offerings or fluctuations in the geographic concentration of installations of solar energy systems;
•changes in financial markets, which could restrict our ability to access available and cost-effective financing sources;
•seasonal, environmental or weather conditions that impact sales, energy production, and system installations;
•the amount and timing of operating expenses related to the maintenance and expansion of our business, operations and infrastructure;
•announcements by us or our competitors of new products or services, significant acquisitions, strategic partnerships, joint ventures, or capital-raising activities or commitments;
•changes in our pricing policies or terms or those of our competitors, including utilities;
•changes in regulatory policy related to solar energy generation;
•the loss of one or more key partners or the failure of key partners to perform as anticipated;
•our failure to successfully integrate the Vivint Solar business;
•actual or anticipated developments in our competitors’ businesses or the competitive landscape;
•actual or anticipated changes in our growth rate;
•general economic, industry and market conditions, including as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic; and
•changes to our cancellation rate.
In the past, we have experienced seasonal fluctuations in sales and installations, particularly in the fourth quarter. This has been the result of decreased sales through the holiday season and weather-related installation delays. Our incentives revenue is also highly variable due to associated revenue recognition rules, as discussed in greater detail in Item 7. Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations. Seasonal and other factors may also contribute to variability in our sales of solar energy systems and product sales. For these or other reasons, the results of any prior quarterly or annual periods should not be relied upon as indications of our future performance. In addition, our actual revenue or key operating metrics in one or more future quarters may fall short of the expectations of investors and financial analysts. If that occurs, the trading price of our common stock could decline and you could lose part or all of your investment.
Our actual financial results may differ materially from any guidance we may publish from time to time.
We have in the past provided, and may from time to time provide, guidance regarding our future performance that represents our management’s estimates as of the date such guidance is provided. Any such guidance is based upon a number of assumptions with respect to future business decisions (some of which may change) and estimates that, while presented with numerical specificity, are inherently subject to significant business, economic,
and competitive uncertainties and contingencies (many of which are beyond our control, including those related to the COVID-19 pandemic). Guidance is necessarily speculative in nature, and it can be expected that some or all of the assumptions that inform such guidance will not materialize or will vary significantly from actual results. Our ability to meet deployment volume, cost, net present value or any other forward-looking guidance is impacted by a number of factors including, but not limited to, the number of our solar energy systems purchased outright versus the number of our solar energy systems that are subject to long-term Customer Agreements, changes in installation costs, the availability of additional financing on acceptable terms, changes in the retail prices of traditional utility generated electricity, the availability of rebates, tax credits and other incentives, changes in policies and regulations including net metering and interconnection limits or caps, the availability of solar panels and other raw materials, as well as the other risks to our business that are described in this section. Accordingly, our guidance is only an estimate of what management believes is realizable as of the date such guidance is provided. Actual results may vary from such guidance and the variations may be material. Investors should also recognize that the reliability of any forecasted financial data diminishes the farther in the future that the data is forecast. In light of the foregoing, investors should not place undue reliance on our financial guidance, and should carefully consider any guidance we may publish in context.
The requirements of being a public company may strain our resources, divert management’s attention and affect our ability to attract and retain qualified board members and officers.
We are subject to the reporting requirements of the Exchange Act, the listing requirements of the Nasdaq Stock Market and other applicable securities rules and regulations. Compliance with these rules and regulations has increased our legal and financial compliance costs, made some activities more difficult, time-consuming or costly and increased demand on our systems and resources. The Exchange Act requires, among other things, that we file annual, quarterly and current reports with respect to our business and results of operations and maintain effective disclosure controls and procedures and internal controls over financial reporting. Maintaining our disclosure controls and procedures and internal controls over financial reporting in accordance with this standard requires significant resources and management oversight. As a result, management’s attention may be diverted from other business concerns, which could harm our business and results of operations. Although we have already hired additional employees to comply with these requirements, we may need to hire more employees in the future, which will increase our costs and expenses.
Risks Related to Taxes and Accounting
Our ability to provide our solar service offerings to customers on an economically viable basis depends in part on our ability to finance these systems with fund investors who seek particular tax and other benefits.
Our solar service offerings have been eligible for federal investment tax credits, U.S. Treasury grants, and other tax benefits. We have relied on, and will continue to rely on, tax equity investment funds, which are financing structures that monetize a substantial portion of those benefits, in order to finance our solar service offerings. If, for any reason, we are unable to continue to monetize those benefits through these arrangements, we may be unable to provide and maintain our solar service offerings for customers on an economically viable basis.
The availability of this tax-advantaged financing depends upon many factors, including:
•our ability to compete with other solar energy companies for the limited number of potential fund investors, each of which has limited funds and limited appetite for the tax benefits associated with these financings;
•the state of financial and credit markets;
•changes in the legal or tax risks associated with these financings; and
•legislative or regulatory changes or decreases to these incentives including the anticipated step-down of the Commercial ITC (described below).
The federal government currently offers an investment tax credit (“Commercial ITC”) under Section 48(a) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the “Code”), for the installation of certain solar power facilities owned for business purposes. If construction on the facility began before January 1, 2020, the amount of the Commercial ITC available is 30%, if construction began during 2020, 2021, or 2022 the amount of the Commercial ITC available is 26%, and if construction begins during 2023 the amount of the Commercial ITC available is 22%. The Commercial ITC steps down to 10% if construction of the facility begins after December 31, 2023 or if the facility is not placed in service before January 1, 2026. The depreciable basis of a solar facility is also reduced by 50% of the amount of any Commercial ITC claimed. The Internal Revenue Service (the “IRS”) provided taxpayers guidance in Notice 2018-59 for determining when construction has begun on a solar facility. This guidance is relevant for any facilities which we seek to deploy in future years but take advantage of a higher tax credit rate available for an earlier year. For example, we have sought to avail ourselves of the methods set forth in the guidance to retain the 30% Commercial ITC that was available prior to January 1, 2020 by incurring certain costs and taking title to equipment in 2019 or early 2020 and/or by performing physical work on components that will be installed in solar facilities. From and after 2023, we may seek to avail ourselves of the 26% credit rate by using these methods to establish the beginning of construction in 2020, 2021, or 2022 and we may plan to similarly further utilize the program in future years if the Commercial ITC step down continues. While we have attempted to ensure that these transactions will comply with the guidance issued by the IRS, this guidance is relatively limited and potentially subject to change. Either the IRS or our financing partners could challenge whether a facility is properly qualified for the relevant tax credit rate under the guidance, which could either result in lower tax equity advances or trigger indemnification obligations to our tax equity investors. It is also possible that we will not be able to use all of the equipment purchased or manufactured to satisfy the beginning of construction rules set forth in the guidance.
The federal government also currently offers a personal income tax credit under Section 25D of the Code (“Residential Energy Efficiency Tax Credit”), for the installation of certain solar power facilities owned by residential taxpayers, which is applicable to customers who purchase a solar system outright as opposed to entering into a Customer Agreement. The Residential Energy Efficiency Tax Credit is currently 26% if the facility is placed in service during 2020, 2021, or 2022 and 22% if placed in service during 2023. The Residential Energy Efficiency Tax Credit is not available for property placed in service after December 31, 2023.
Future reductions in the Commercial ITC and any further legislative reductions or changes to the Commercial ITC may impact the attractiveness of solar energy to certain tax equity investors and could potentially harm our business. Obtaining tax equity funding (and tax equity funding on advantageous terms) also may become more challenging. Additionally, the benefits of the Commercial ITC have historically enhanced our ability to provide competitive pricing for customers. Further reductions in, eliminations of, or expirations of, governmental incentives such as the Residential Energy Efficiency Tax Credit could reduce the number of customers who choose to purchase our solar energy systems.
Additionally, potential investors must remain satisfied that the structures that we offer make the tax benefits associated with solar energy systems available to these investors, which depends on the investors’ assessment of the tax law, the absence of any unfavorable interpretations of that law and the continued application of existing tax law and interpretations to our funding structures. Changes in existing law or interpretations of existing law by the IRS and/or the courts could reduce the willingness of investors to invest in funds associated with these solar energy systems. Moreover, reductions to the corporate tax rate may have reduced the appetite for tax benefits overall, which could reduce the pool of available funds. Accordingly, we cannot assure you that this type of financing will continue to be available to us. New investment fund structures or other financing mechanisms may become available, but if we are unable to take advantage of these fund structures and financing mechanisms, we may be at a competitive disadvantage. If, for any reason, we are unable to finance our solar service offerings through tax-advantaged structures or if we are unable to realize or monetize Commercial ITCs or other tax benefits, we may no longer be able to provide our solar service offerings to new customers on an economically viable basis, which would have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, and results of operations.
If the IRS makes determinations that the fair market value of our solar energy systems is materially lower than what we have claimed, we may have to pay significant amounts to our fund investors, and our business, financial condition, and prospects may be materially and adversely affected.
We and our fund investors claim the Commercial ITC or the U.S. Treasury grant in amounts based on the fair market value of our solar energy systems. We have obtained independent appraisals to determine the fair market values we report for claiming Commercial ITCs and U.S. Treasury grants. With respect to U.S. Treasury grants, the U.S. Treasury Department reviews the reported fair market value in determining the amount initially awarded, and the IRS may also subsequently audit the fair market value and determine that amounts previously awarded constitute taxable income for U.S. federal income tax purposes. With respect to Commercial ITCs, the IRS may review the fair market value on audit and determine that the tax credits previously claimed must be reduced. If the fair market value is determined in these circumstances to be less than what we or our tax equity investment funds reported, we may owe our fund investors an amount equal to this difference (including any interest and penalties), plus any costs and expenses associated with a challenge to that valuation. We could also be subject to tax liabilities, including interest and penalties. If the IRS further disagrees now or in the future with the amounts we or our tax equity investment funds reported regarding the fair market value of our solar energy systems, it could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, and prospects.
We purchased an insurance policy in 2018 insuring us and related parties for additional taxes owed in respect of lost Commercial ITCs, gross-up costs and expenses incurred in defending the types of claims described above. However, this policy only covers certain investment funds and has negotiated exclusions from, and limitations to, coverage and therefore may not cover us for all such lost Commercial ITCs, taxes, costs and expenses. Similarly, not all of the investment funds related to Vivint Solar are covered by insurance policies.
One of our investment funds covered by our 2018 insurance policy is currently being audited by the IRS in an audit involving a review of the fair market value determination of our solar energy systems. If this audit results in an adverse finding, we may be subject to an indemnity obligation to our investor, which may result in certain out-of-pocket costs and increased insurance premiums in the future. The IRS audit is still ongoing, and we are unable to determine the potential tax liabilities, if any, at this time.
Our business currently depends on the availability of utility rebates, tax credits and other benefits, tax exemptions and exclusions and other financial incentives. We may be adversely affected by changes in U.S. tax laws, and the expiration, elimination or reduction of these benefits could adversely impact our business.
Our business depends on government policies that promote and support solar energy and enhance the economic viability of owning solar energy systems. U.S. federal, state and local governmental bodies provide incentives to owners, distributors, installers and manufacturers of solar energy systems to promote solar energy. These incentives include Commercial ITCs and Residential Energy Efficiency Tax Credit, as discussed above, as well as other tax credits, rebates and solar renewable energy credits (“SRECs”) associated with solar energy generation. Some markets, such as New Jersey and Maryland, currently utilize SRECs. SRECs can be volatile and could decrease over time as the supply of SREC-producing solar energy systems installed in a particular market increases. For example, in New Jersey, because of the substantial supply of solar energy systems installed, the state was on the cusp of reaching the solar carve-out under the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard. In May 2018, legislation was enacted to expand New Jersey’s solar carve-out to 5.1% of kilowatt hours of electricity sold in the state. In December 2019, the state regulators adopted a transition program to follow the current SREC program that will be based on a fixed price SREC model and which is anticipated to be available to replace the current SREC program. We rely on these incentives to lower our cost of capital and to attract investors, all of which enable us to lower the price we charge customers for our solar service offerings. These incentives have had a significant impact on the development of solar energy but they could change at any time, especially in light of the recent change in administration, as further described below. These incentives may also expire on a particular date (as discussed above with respect to the Commercial ITC and Residential Energy Efficiency Tax Credit), end when the allocated funding is exhausted, or be reduced, terminated or repealed without notice. The financial value of certain incentives may also decrease over time.
In December 2017, significant tax legislation was enacted, including a change to the corporate tax rate (the “Tax Act”). As part of the Tax Act, the current corporate income tax rate was reduced, and there were other changes including limiting or eliminating various other deductions, credits and tax preferences. This reduction in the corporate income tax rate may have reduced appetite for the Commercial ITC and depreciation benefits available with respect to solar facilities. We cannot predict whether and to what extent U.S. the corporate income tax rate will change under the Biden administration. Further limitations on, or elimination of, such tax benefits could significantly impact our ability to raise tax equity investment funds or impact the terms thereof, including the amount of cash
distributable to our investors. Similarly, any unfavorable interpretations of tax law by the IRS and/or the courts with respect to our financing structures could reduce the willingness of investors to invest in our funds associated with any such structure.
The Trump administration overturned and modified policies of, and regulations enacted by, the prior administration that placed limitations on coal and gas electric generation, mining and/or exploration. Any effort to overturn federal and state laws, regulations or policies that are supportive of solar energy generation or that remove costs or other limitations on other types of energy generation that compete with solar energy projects could materially and adversely affect our business.
Our business model also relies on multiple tax exemptions offered at the state and local levels. For example, some states have property tax exemptions that exempt the value of solar energy systems in determining values for calculation of local and state real and personal property taxes. State and local tax exemptions can have sunset dates, triggers for loss of the exemption, and can be changed by state legislatures and other regulators, and if solar energy systems were not exempt from such taxes, the property taxes payable by customers would be higher, which could offset any potential savings our solar service offerings could offer. Similarly, if state or local legislatures or tax administrators impose property taxes on third-party owners of solar energy systems, solar companies like us would be subject to higher costs. For example, South Carolina counties do not currently assess property tax on customer-owned residential solar energy systems; however, third-party-owned systems are subject to business personal property taxes. In Connecticut, a number of municipalities have assessed property tax on third-party-owned solar energy systems, despite an applicable exemption under state law. In Texas, there is inconsistency between counties on how third-party-owned systems are subjected to the state solar property tax exemption. California provides an exclusion (the “Solar Exclusion”) from the assessment of California property taxes for qualifying “active solar energy systems” installed as fixtures before January 1, 2025, provided such systems are locally rather than centrally assessed (“Eligible Property”). However, the Solar Exclusion is not a permanent exclusion from the assessment of property tax. Once a change in ownership of the Eligible Property occurs, the Eligible Property may be subject to reassessment and California property taxes may become due.
In general, we rely on certain state and local tax exemptions that apply to the sale of equipment, sale of power, or both. These state and local tax exemptions can expire or can be changed by state legislatures, regulators, tax administrators, or court rulings and such changes could adversely impact our business and the profitability of our offerings in certain markets.
As a result of our acquisition of Vivint Solar, we may be subject to adverse California property tax consequences.
The State of California provides an exclusion (the “Solar Exclusion”) from the assessment of California property taxes for qualifying “active solar energy systems” installed as fixtures before January 1, 2025, provided such systems are locally rather than centrally assessed (“Eligible Property”). However, the Solar Exclusion is not a permanent exclusion from the assessment of property tax. Once a change in ownership of the Eligible Property occurs, the Eligible Property may be subject to reassessment and California property taxes may become due.
Vivint Solar, through certain of its subsidiaries, owns solar energy systems that constitute Eligible Property (the “California PV Systems”). To the extent Vivint Solar or its subsidiaries are considered the tax owners of the California PV Systems for purposes of the California Revenue and Tax Code (“CR&T”), our acquisition of Vivint Solar would constitute a change of control of the California PV Systems triggering the loss of the Solar Exclusion and the imposition of California property taxes, which could adversely affect our business.
If we are unable to maintain effective disclosure controls and internal controls over financial reporting, investors may lose confidence in the accuracy and completeness of our financial reports and, as a result, the value of our common stock may be materially and adversely affected.
We are required, pursuant to the Exchange Act, to furnish a report by management on, among other things, the effectiveness of our internal controls over financial reporting. This assessment includes disclosure of any material weaknesses, if any, identified by our management in our internal controls over financial reporting. We are continuing to develop and refine our disclosure controls and improve our internal controls over financial reporting. We have expended, and anticipate that we will continue to expend, significant resources in order to maintain and continuously look for ways to enhance existing effective disclosure controls and procedures and internal controls
over financial reporting. Our current controls and any new controls that we develop may become inadequate because of changes in conditions in our business, including the integration of Vivint Solar, which presents additional complexities relating to the design and implementation of our disclosure controls and internal control over financial reporting. In addition, we or our independent accounting firm may identify weaknesses and deficiencies that we may not otherwise identify in a timely manner in the future. If we are not able to complete the work required under Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act on a timely basis for future fiscal years, our annual report on Form 10-K may be delayed or deficient. Because of the inherent limitations in all control systems, no evaluation of controls can provide absolute assurance that misstatements due to error or fraud will not occur or that all control issues and instances of fraud will be detected.
We cannot guarantee that our internal controls over financial reporting will prevent or detect all errors and fraud. The risk of errors is increased in light of the complexity of our business and investment funds. For example, we must deal with significant complexity in accounting for our fund structures and the resulting allocation of net income (loss) between our stockholders and noncontrolling interests under the hypothetical liquidation at book value (“HLBV”) method as well as the income tax consequences of these fund structures. As we enter into additional investment funds, which may have contractual provisions different from those of our existing funds, the analysis as to whether we consolidate these funds, the calculation under the HLBV method, and the analysis of the tax impact could become increasingly complicated. This additional complexity could require us to hire additional resources and increase the chance that we experience errors in the future.
If we are unable to assert that our internal controls over financial reporting is effective, we could lose investor confidence in the accuracy and completeness of our financial reports, which would cause the price of our common stock to decline. In addition, we could become subject to investigations by Nasdaq, the SEC or other regulatory authorities, which could require additional management attention and which could adversely affect our business.
Our reported financial results may be affected, and comparability of our financial results with other companies in our industry may be impacted, by changes in the accounting principles generally accepted in the United States.
Generally accepted accounting principles in the United States are subject to change and interpretation by the Financial Accounting Standards Board (“FASB"), the SEC, and various bodies formed to promulgate and interpret appropriate accounting principles. A change in these principles or interpretations could have a significant effect on our reported financial results and on the financial results of other companies in our industry, and may even affect the reporting of transactions completed before the announcement or effectiveness of a change. For example, in June 2016 the FASB issued Accounting Standards Update No. 2016-13, Measurement of Credit Losses on Financial Instruments ("ASU No. 2016-13"), which replaces the current incurred loss impairment methodology with a current expected credit losses model. Other companies in our industry may be affected differently by the adoption of ASU No. 2016-13 or other new accounting standards, including timing of the adoption of new accounting standards, adversely affecting the comparability of financial statements.
Our ability to use our net operating loss carryforwards and certain other tax attributes may be limited.
As of December 31, 2020, we had U.S. federal and state net operating loss carryforwards (“NOLs”) of approximately $0.7 billion and $2.1 billion, respectively, which begin expiring in varying amounts in 2028 and 2024, respectively, if unused. Our U.S. federal and certain state NOLs generated in tax years beginning after December 31, 2017 total approximately $1.1 billion and $176.3 million, respectively, have indefinite carryover periods, and do not expire. Under Sections 382 and 383 of the Code, if a corporation undergoes an “ownership change,” the corporation’s ability to use its pre-change NOLs and other pre-change tax assets, such as tax credits, to offset its post- change income and taxes may be limited. In general, an “ownership change” occurs if there is a cumulative change in our ownership by “5% shareholders” that exceeds 50 percentage points over a rolling three-year period. Similar rules may apply under state tax laws. Additionally, states may impose other limitations on the use of NOLs and tax credit carryforwards. For example, California has recently imposed other limitations on the use of NOLs and limited the use of certain tax credits for taxable years beginning in 2020 through 2022. Any such limitations on our ability to use our NOLs and other tax assets could adversely impact our business, financial condition, and results of operations. We have performed an analysis to determine whether an ownership change under Section 382 of the Code had occurred and determined that only Vivint Solar, Inc. underwent an ownership change as of October 8, 2020.
We may be required to record an impairment expense on our goodwill or intangible assets.
We are required under generally accepted accounting principles to test goodwill for impairment at least annually or when events or changes in circumstances indicate that the carrying amount may be impaired, and to review our intangible assets for impairment when events or changes in circumstances indicate the carrying value may not be recoverable. Factors that can lead to impairment of goodwill and intangible assets include significant adverse changes in the business climate and actual or projected operating results, declines in the financial condition of our business and sustained decrease in our stock price. Since our annual impairment test of goodwill for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2020, we have not identified any qualitative factors that would require a quantitative goodwill impairment analysis. However, if we identify any factors that could indicate an impairment, including a sustained decrease in our stock price, we may be required to record charges to earnings if our goodwill becomes impaired.
Risks Related to Our Common Stock
Our executive officers, directors and principal stockholders continue to have substantial control over us, which will limit your ability to influence the outcome of important matters, including a change in control.
Each of our executive officers, directors and each of our stockholders who beneficially own 5% or more of our outstanding common stock and their affiliates, in the aggregate, beneficially own approximately 45.0% of the outstanding shares of our common stock, based on the number of shares outstanding as of December 31, 2020. As a result, these stockholders, if acting together, will be able to influence or control matters requiring approval by our stockholders, including the election of directors and the approval of mergers, acquisitions or other extraordinary transactions. They may also have interests that differ from yours and may vote in a way with which you disagree and which may be adverse to your interests. This concentrated control may have the effect of delaying or preventing a change in control of our company, could deprive our stockholders of an opportunity to receive a premium for their capital stock and might ultimately affect the market price of our common stock.
The market price of our common stock has been and may continue to be volatile, and you could lose all or part of your investment in our common stock.
The trading price of our common stock has been volatile since our initial public offering, and is likely to continue to be volatile. Factors that could cause fluctuations in the market price of our common stock include the following:
•price and volume fluctuations in the overall stock market from time to time;
•volatility in the market prices and trading volumes of companies in our industry or companies that investors consider comparable;
•changes in operating performance and stock market valuations of other companies generally, or those in our industry in particular;
•sales of shares of our common stock by us or our stockholders;
•failure of securities analysts to maintain coverage of us, changes in financial estimates by securities analysts who follow us, or our failure to meet these estimates or the expectations of investors;
•the financial projections we may provide to the public, any changes in those projections or our failure to meet those projections;
•announcements by us or our competitors of new products or services;
•the public’s reaction to our press releases, other public announcements and filings with the SEC;
•rumors and market speculation involving us or other companies in our industry;
•actual or anticipated changes in our results of operations;
•the continued adverse impact of the COVID-19 pandemic;
•changes in tax and other incentives that we rely upon in order to raise tax equity investment funds;
•actual or perceived privacy or data security incidents;
•our ability to protect our intellectual property and other proprietary rights;
•changes in the regulatory environment and utility policies and pricing, including those that could reduce any savings we are able to offer to customers;
•actual or anticipated developments in our business, our competitors’ businesses or the competitive landscape generally;
•litigation involving us, our industry or both, or investigations by regulators into our operations or those of our competitors;
•announced or completed acquisitions of businesses or technologies by us or our competitors;
•new laws or regulations or new interpretations of existing laws or regulations applicable to our business;
•changes in accounting standards, policies, guidelines, interpretations or principles;
•major catastrophic events or civil unrest;
•negative publicity, including accurate or inaccurate commentary or reports regarding us, our products, our sales professionals or other personnel, or other third parties affiliated with us, on social media platforms, blogs, and other websites;
•any significant change in our management; and
•general economic conditions and slow or negative growth of our markets.
Further, the stock markets have experienced price and volume fluctuations that have affected and continue to affect the market prices of equity securities of many companies. These fluctuations often have been unrelated or disproportionate to the operating performance of those companies. In addition, the stock prices of many renewable energy companies have experienced fluctuations that have often been unrelated to the operating performance of those companies. These broad market and industry fluctuations, as well as general economic, political and market conditions such as recessions, government shutdowns, interest rate changes, or international currency fluctuations, may cause the trading price of the notes and our common stock to decline. In the past, following periods of volatility in the overall market and the market price of a particular company’s securities, securities class action litigation has often been instituted against these companies. We are party to litigation that could result in substantial costs and a diversion of our management’s attention and resources.
Sales of a substantial number of shares of our common stock in the public market, including by our existing stockholders, could cause our stock price to fall.
Sales of a substantial number of shares of our common stock in the public market, or the perception that these sales might occur, could depress the market price of our common stock and could impair our ability to raise capital through the sale of additional equity securities. We are unable to predict the effect that these sales and others may have on the prevailing market price of our common stock.
In addition, certain of our stockholders, including SK E&S Co., Ltd. and other affiliated companies as well as stockholders who received shares as a result of our acquisition of Vivint Solar, have registration rights that would require us to register shares of our capital stock owned by them for public sale in the United States. We have also filed a registration statement to register shares of our common stock reserved for future issuance under our equity compensation plans, including shares underlying equity awards assumed in connection with our acquisition of Vivint Solar. Subject to the satisfaction of applicable exercise periods and applicable volume and restrictions that apply to affiliates, the shares of our common stock issued upon exercise of outstanding options will become available for immediate resale in the public market upon issuance.
Future sales of our common stock may make it more difficult for us to sell equity securities in the future at a time and at a price that we deem appropriate. These sales also could cause the market price of our common stock to decline and make it more difficult for you to sell shares of our common stock.
Anti-takeover provisions contained in our amended and restated certificate of incorporation and amended and restated bylaws, as well as provisions of Delaware law, could impair a takeover attempt.
Our amended and restated certificate of incorporation, amended and restated bylaws and Delaware law contain provisions that could have the effect of rendering more difficult, delaying, or preventing an acquisition deemed undesirable by our board of directors and therefore depress the trading price of our common stock. Among other things, our amended and restated certificate of incorporation and amended and restated bylaws include provisions:
•creating a classified board of directors whose members serve staggered three-year terms;
•authorizing “blank check” preferred stock, which could be issued by our board of directors without stockholder approval and may contain voting, liquidation, dividend and other rights superior to our common stock;
•limiting the liability of, and providing indemnification to, our directors and officers;
•limiting the ability of our stockholders to call and bring business before special meetings;
•requiring advance notice of stockholder proposals for business to be conducted at meetings of our stockholders and for nominations of candidates for election to our board of directors; and
•controlling the procedures for the conduct and scheduling of board of directors and stockholder meetings.
These provisions, alone or together, could delay or prevent hostile takeovers and changes in control or changes in our management.
As a Delaware corporation, we are also subject to provisions of Delaware law, including Section 203 of the Delaware General Corporation law, which prevents certain stockholders holding more than 15% of our outstanding capital stock from engaging in certain business combinations without approval of the holders of at least two-thirds of our outstanding capital stock not held by such stockholder. Any provision of our amended and restated certificate of incorporation, amended and restated bylaws or Delaware law that has the effect of delaying or preventing a change in control could limit the opportunity for our stockholders to receive a premium for their shares of our capital stock and could also affect the price that some investors are willing to pay for our common stock.
Provisions contained in our amended and restated certificate of incorporation and amended and restated bylaws limit the ability of our stockholders to call special meetings and prohibit stockholder action by written consent.
Our amended and restated certificate of incorporation provides that our stockholders may not take action by written consent. Instead, any such actions must be taken at an annual or special meeting of our stockholders. As a result, our stockholders are not able to take any action without first holding a meeting of our stockholders called in accordance with the provisions of our amended and restated bylaws, including advance notice procedures set forth in our amended and restated bylaws. Our amended and restated bylaws further provide that special meetings of our stockholders may be called only by a majority of our board of directors, the chairman of our board of directors, our Chief Executive Officer or our President. As a result, our stockholders are not allowed to call a special meeting. These provisions may delay the ability of our stockholders to force consideration of a stockholder proposal, including a proposal to remove directors.
Provisions contained in our amended and restated certificate of incorporation and amended and restated bylaws could preclude our stockholders from bringing matters before meetings of stockholders and delay changes in our board of directors.
Our amended and restated bylaws provide advance notice procedures for stockholders seeking to bring business before, or nominate candidates for election as directors at, our annual or special meetings of stockholders. In addition, our amended and restated certificate of incorporation provides that stockholders may remove directors only for cause. Any amendment of these provisions in our amended and restated bylaws or amended and restated certificate of incorporation would require approval by holders of at least 66 2/3% of our then outstanding capital stock. These provisions could preclude our stockholders from bringing matters before annual or special meetings of stockholders and delay changes in our board of directors.
Our amended and restated bylaws provide that a state or federal court located within the State of Delaware will be the sole and exclusive forum for substantially all disputes between us and our stockholders, which could limit our stockholders’ ability to obtain a favorable judicial forum for disputes with us or our directors, officers or employees.
Our amended and restated bylaws provide that, unless we consent to the selection of an alternative forum, the sole and exclusive forum for (i) any derivative action or proceeding brought on our behalf, (ii) any action asserting a claim of breach of fiduciary duty owed by any of our directors, officers or other employees to us or to our stockholders, (iii) any action asserting a claim arising pursuant to any provision of the Delaware General Corporation Law or (iv) any action asserting a claim governed by the internal affairs doctrine shall be a state or federal court located within the state of Delaware, in all cases subject to the court’s having personal jurisdiction over the indispensable parties names as defendants. The choice of forum provision may limit a stockholder’s ability to bring a claim in a judicial forum that it finds favorable for disputes with us or our directors, officers or other employees, which may discourage such lawsuits against us and our directors, officers and other employees. In addition, our amended and restated bylaws also provide that, unless we consent to the selection of an alternative forum, to the fullest extent permitted by law, the federal district courts of the United States of America shall be the sole and exclusive forum for the resolution of any complaint asserting a cause of action arising under the Securities Act. If a court were to find the choice of forum provisions contained in our amended and restated bylaws to be inapplicable or unenforceable in an action, we may incur additional costs associated with resolving such action in other jurisdictions, which could harm our business, results of operations and financial condition.
If securities or industry analysts cease publishing research or reports about us, our business, our market or our competitors, or if they adversely change their recommendations regarding our common stock, the market price of our common stock and trading volume could decline.
The market for our common stock is influenced by the research and reports that securities or industry analysts publish about us, our business, our market or our competitors. If any of the analysts who cover us adversely change their recommendations regarding our common stock, or provide more favorable recommendations about our competitors, the market price of our common stock would likely decline. If any of the analysts who cover us cease coverage of our company or fail to regularly publish reports on us, we could lose visibility in the financial markets, which in turn could cause the market price of our common stock and trading volume to decline.
We do not expect to declare any dividends in the foreseeable future.
We do not anticipate declaring any cash dividends to holders of our common stock in the foreseeable future. In addition, our credit agreements contain restrictions on payments of cash dividends. Consequently, investors may need to rely on sales of our common stock after price appreciation, which may never occur or only occur at certain times, as the only way to realize any future gains on their investment. Investors seeking cash dividends should not purchase shares of our common stock.
Additional issuances of our capital stock or equity-linked securities could result in dilution to our stockholders.
We may issue additional equity securities to raise capital, make acquisitions or for a variety of other purposes. For example, we recently completed the acquisition of Vivint Solar, in which we issued 0.55 shares of our common stock for each share of Vivint Solar’s common stock owned prior to the acquisition, which resulted in dilution to our stockholders. Additional issuances of our capital stock may be made pursuant to the exercise or conversion of new or existing convertible debt securities (including the Notes), warrants, stock options or other equity incentive awards to new and existing service providers. Any such issuances will result in dilution to existing holders of our stock. We also rely on equity-based compensation as an important tool in recruiting and retaining employees. The amount of dilution due to equity-based compensation of our employees and other additional issuances of our common stock or securities convertible into or exchangeable or exercisable for our common stock could be substantial, and the market price of our common stock could decline.
The Capped Call transactions may affect the value of our common stock.
In connection with the issuance of the Notes, we entered into the Capped Call transactions with the option counterparties. The capped call transactions are expected generally to reduce the potential dilution to our common stock upon any conversion of Notes and/or offset any cash payments we are required to make in excess of the principal amount of converted Notes, as the case may be, with such reduction and/or offset subject to a cap.
The option counterparties or their respective affiliates may modify their hedge positions by entering into or unwinding various derivatives with respect to our common stock and/or purchasing or selling our common stock or other securities of ours in secondary market transactions prior to the maturity of the Notes (and are likely to do so during the observation period for conversions of Notes following November 1, 2025 or following any repurchase of Notes by us). This activity could also cause or avoid an increase or a decrease in the market price of our common stock.
The potential effect, if any, of these transactions and activities on the market price of our common stock will depend in part on market conditions and cannot be ascertained at this time.
Item 1B. Unresolved Staff Comments.
Item 2. Properties.
Our corporate headquarters and executive offices are located in San Francisco, California, where we occupy approximately 44,000 square feet of office space. We also maintain 113 other locations, consisting primarily of branch offices, warehouses, sales offices and design centers in 19 states.
We lease all of our facilities and we do not own any real property. We believe that our current facilities are adequate to meet our ongoing needs. If we require additional space, we believe that we will be able to obtain additional facilities on commercially reasonable terms.
Item 3. Legal Proceedings.
See Note 19, Commitments and Contingencies, to our consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
Item 4. Mine Safety Disclosures.
Item 5. Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities.
Our common stock began trading on the Nasdaq Global Select Market under the symbol “RUN” on August 5, 2015.
Holders of Record
As of February 22, 2021, there were approximately 341 holders of record of common stock. Certain shares are held in “street” name and, accordingly, the number of beneficial owners of such shares is not known or included in the foregoing number.
We have never declared or paid any cash dividends on our capital stock. We currently intend to retain all available funds and any future earnings for use in the operation of our business and do not expect to pay any dividends on our capital stock in the foreseeable future. Any future determination to declare dividends will be made at the discretion of our board of directors, subject to applicable laws, and will depend on a number of factors, including our financial condition, results of operations, capital requirements, contractual restrictions, general business conditions and other factors that our board of directors may deem relevant. In addition, our credit agreements contain restrictions on payments of cash dividends.
Stock Repurchase Program
In November 2019, our board of directors approved a stock repurchase program authorizing us to repurchase up to $50.0 million of our common stock from time to time over the next three years. Stock repurchases under this program may be made through open market transactions, negotiated purchases or otherwise, at times and in such amounts as we consider appropriate and in accordance with applicable regulations of the Securities and Exchange Commission. The timing of repurchases and the number of shares repurchased will depend on a variety of factors including price, regulatory requirements, and other market conditions. We may limit, amend, suspend, or terminate the stock repurchase program at any time without prior notice. Any shares repurchased under the program will be returned to the status of authorized, but unissued shares of common stock.
Share repurchase activity as of December 31, 2020 was as follows (in thousands, except per share amounts):
(1) Average price paid per share excludes commission costs.
(2) Amounts represent the approximate dollar value of the maximum remaining number of shares that may yet be purchased under the stock repurchase program, and excludes commission costs.
Stock Price Performance Graph
The following stock performance graph compares our total stock return with the total return for (i) the Nasdaq Composite Index and the (ii) the Invesco Solar ETF, which represents a peer group of solar companies, for the period from December 31, 2015 through December 31, 2020. The figures represented below assume an investment of $100 in our common stock at the closing price of $11.77 on December 31, 2015 and in the Nasdaq Composite Index and the Invesco Solar ETF on December 31, 2015 including the reinvestment of dividends into shares of
common stock. The comparisons in the table are required by the SEC, and are not intended to forecast or be indicative of possible future performance of our common stock. This graph shall not be deemed “soliciting material” or be deemed “filed” for purposes of Section 18 of the Exchange Act, or otherwise subject to the liabilities under that section, and shall not be deemed to be incorporated by reference into any of our filings under the Securities Act, whether made before or after the date hereof and irrespective of any general incorporation language in any such filing.
Item 6. Selected Consolidated Financial Data.
Item 7. Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations.
The following discussion and analysis of our financial condition and results of operations should be read in conjunction with our consolidated financial statements and related notes thereto included elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. This discussion contains forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties. Our actual results could differ materially from those discussed below. Factors that could cause or contribute to such differences include those identified below and those discussed in the section titled “Risk Factors” included elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
We provide clean, solar energy to customers at a significant savings compared to traditional utility energy. We have been selling solar energy to residential customers through a variety of offerings since we were founded in 2007. We, either directly or through one of our solar partners, install a solar energy system on a customer’s home and either sell the system to the customer or, as is more often the case, sell the energy generated by the system to the customer pursuant to a lease or power purchase agreement (“PPA”) with no or low upfront costs. We refer to these leases and PPAs as “Customer Agreements.” Following installation, a system is interconnected to the local utility grid. The home’s energy usage is provided by the solar energy system, with any additional energy needs provided by the local utility. Any excess solar energy, including amounts in excess of battery storage, that is not immediately used by the customers is exported to the utility grid using a bi-directional utility net meter, and the customer generally receives a credit for the excess energy from their utility to offset future usage of utility-generated energy.
On July 6, 2020, we entered into an Agreement and Plan of Merger (the “Merger Agreement”) with Vivint Solar and Viking Merger Sub, Inc., a Delaware corporation and our direct wholly owned subsidiary. The acquisition of Vivint Solar was completed on October 8, 2020 pursuant to the terms of the Merger Agreement. As part of this merger, we welcomed approximately 3,800 employees from Vivint Solar to Sunrun, bringing the total employees to approximately 8,500 as of December 31, 2020. We also added approximately 210,000 customers and 1,441 megawatts to our existing fleet. The merger is expected to support continued growth through stronger differentiated sales channels, expanding customers’ access to the best offerings including battery storage solutions, improving cost efficiency from greater scale and improved access to project finance and other capital at lower costs and better terms.
We offer our solar service offerings both directly to the customer and through our solar partners, which include sales and installation partners, and strategic partners, which include retail partners. In addition, we sell solar energy systems directly to customers for cash. We also sell solar energy panels and other products (such as racking) to resellers. As of December 31, 2020, we provided our solar services to customers and sold solar energy panels and other products to resellers throughout the United States. More than 40% of our cumulative systems deployed are in California.
We compete mainly with traditional utilities. In the markets we serve, our strategy is to price the energy we sell below prevailing local retail electricity rates. As a result, the price our customers pay under our solar service offerings varies depending on the state where the customer lives, the local traditional utility that otherwise provides electricity to the customer, as well as the prices other solar energy companies charge in that region. Even within the same neighborhood, site-specific characteristics drive meaningful variability in the revenue and cost profiles of each home. Using our proprietary technology, we target homes with advantageous revenue and cost characteristics, which means we are often able to offer pricing that allows customers to save more on their energy bill while maintaining our ability to meet our targeted returns. For example, with the insights provided by our technology, we can offer competitive pricing to customers with homes that have favorable characteristics, such as roofs that allow for easy installation, high electricity consumption, or low shading, effectively passing through the cost savings we are able to achieve on these installations to the customer.
Our ability to offer Customer Agreements depends in part on our ability to finance the purchase and installation of the solar energy systems by monetizing the resulting customer cash flows and related commercial investment tax credits (“Commercial ITCs”), accelerated tax depreciation and other incentives from governments and local utilities. We monetize these incentives under tax equity investment funds, which are generally structured as non-recourse project financings. Since inception we have raised numerous tax equity investment funds to finance the installation of solar energy systems. From time to time, we may repurchase investors' interests in our tax equity investment funds after the recapture period of the relevant tax incentives. We intend to establish additional investment funds and may also use debt, equity and other financing strategies to fund our growth.
In addition, completing the sale and installation of a solar energy system requires many different steps including a site audit, completion of designs, permitting, installation, electrical sign-off and interconnection. Customers may cancel their Customer Agreements with us, subject to certain conditions, during this process until commencement of installation. Customer cancellation rates can change over time and vary between markets.
Convertible Senior Notes Offering
On January 25, 2021, we entered into a purchase agreement (the “Purchase Agreement”) with Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC and Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC, as representatives of the several initial purchasers (the “Purchasers”), to issue and sell $350 million aggregate principal amount of 0% Convertible Senior Notes due 2026 (the “Notes”) in a private placement to qualified institutional buyers pursuant to Rule 144A under the Securities Act. The Notes were sold to the Purchasers pursuant to an exemption from the registration requirements of the Securities Act afforded by Section 4(a)(2) of the Securities Act. In addition, we granted the Purchasers an option to purchase, during a 13-day period beginning on, and including, the date on which the Notes were first issued, up to an additional $50 million aggregate principal amount of Notes on the same terms and conditions. The Purchasers exercised their option in full on January 26, 2021. The net proceeds from the sale of the Notes issued on January 28, 2021 (after deducting the Purchasers’ discount and estimated offering expenses) was approximately $389.0 million.
On January 28, 2021, we entered into an Indenture (the “Indenture”) with Wells Fargo Bank, National Association, as trustee (the “Trustee”), pursuant to which we issued $400 million aggregate principal amount of Notes. The Notes will not bear regular interest, and the principal amount of the notes will not accrete. The Notes may bear special interest under specified circumstances relating to our failure to comply with our reporting obligations under the Indenture or if the Notes are not freely tradeable as required by the Indenture. The Notes will mature on February 1, 2026, unless earlier repurchased by us, redeemed by us or converted pursuant to their terms.
In connection with the offering of the Notes, on January 25. 2021 and January 26, 2021, we entered into privately negotiated capped call transactions with Credit Suisse Capital LLC, represented by Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC, Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC, Barclays Bank PLC, through its agent Barclays Capital Inc., and Royal Bank of Canada, represented by RBC Capital Markets, LLC (the “Capped Calls”). The Capped Calls each have an initial strike price of approximately $117.91 per share, subject to certain adjustments, which corresponds to the initial conversion price of the Notes. The Capped Calls have initial cap prices of $157.22 per share. The Capped Calls cover, subject to anti-dilution adjustments, approximately 3.4 million shares of Common Stock. The Capped Calls are expected generally to reduce the potential dilution to the Common Stock upon any conversion of Notes and/or offset any cash payments we are required to make in excess of the principal amount of the Notes, as the case may be, in the event the market price per share of Common Stock, as measured under the Capped Calls, is greater than the strike price of the Capped Call, with such offset subject to a cap. If, however, the market price per share of the Common Stock, as measured under the Capped Calls, exceeds the cap price of the Capped Calls, there would be dilution and/or there would not be an offset of such potential cash payments, in each case, to the extent that the then-market price per share of the Common Stock exceeds the cap price. We used approximately $28.0 million from the net proceeds from the issuance and sale of the Notes to purchase the Capped Calls. The final components of the Capped Calls are scheduled to expire on January 29, 2026.
On October 8, 2020, we completed the acquisition of Vivint Solar pursuant to the terms of the Merger Agreement. Each share of Vivint Solar common stock issued and outstanding immediately prior to the effective time of the merger was converted automatically into the right to receive 0.55 shares of our common stock.
Impacts of COVID-19 on Our Business
The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting impact on the U.S. economy have accelerated many of our operational initiatives to deliver best-in-class customer value and to reduce costs. We have invested in technology to streamline our installation processes, including online permitting and interconnection in many locations, as well as employing extensive use of drone technology to complete rooftop surveys. While we continue to install solar systems in most markets, we are monitoring this fluid situation and will follow official regulations to protect our employees and customers.
Following the first shelter-in-place orders in California, we enabled our entire salesforce to complete sales consultations in a virtual setting. Despite the fact that we have at times paused sourcing leads through certain channels, we have seen more leads through our digital channels at similar or more attractive customer acquisition costs. We believe this transition towards a digital model for many sales channels will position us well to realize sustaining reductions in customer acquisition costs. We are gradually returning to retail sales, and our direct-to-home sales professionals, after adapting to remote sales practices, have subsequently been able to resume direct-to-home sales activities in most markets.
The ultimate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is highly uncertain and subject to change, and we do not yet know the full extent of potential delays or impacts on our business, operations or the global economy as a whole. We will continue to monitor developments affecting our workforce, our customers, and our business operations generally and will take actions that we determine are necessary in order to mitigate these impacts.
Our Customer Agreements provide for recurring customer payments, typically over 20 or 25 years, and the related solar energy systems are generally eligible for Commercial ITCs, accelerated tax depreciation and other government or utility incentives. Our financing strategy is to monetize these benefits at a low weighted average cost of capital. This low cost of capital enables us to offer attractive pricing to our customers for the energy generated by the solar energy system on their homes. Historically, we have monetized a portion of the value created by our Customer Agreements and the related solar energy systems through investment funds. These assets are attractive to fund investors due to the long-term, recurring nature of the cash flows generated by our Customer Agreements, the high credit scores of our customers, the fact that energy is a non-discretionary good and our low loss rates. In addition, fund investors can receive attractive after-tax returns from our investment funds due to their ability to utilize Commercial ITCs, accelerated depreciation and certain government or utility incentives associated with the funds’ ownership of solar energy systems.
As of December 31, 2020, we had 63 active investment funds, which are described below. We have established different types of investment funds to implement our asset monetization strategy. Depending on the nature of the investment fund, cash may be contributed to the investment fund by the investor upfront or in stages based on milestones associated with the design, construction or interconnection status of the solar energy systems. The cash contributed by the fund investor is used by the investment fund to purchase solar energy systems. The investment funds either own or enter into a master lease with a Sunrun subsidiary for the solar energy systems, Customer Agreements and associated incentives. We receive on-going cash distributions from the investment funds representing a portion of the monthly customer payments received. We use the upfront cash, as well as on-going distributions to cover our costs associated with designing, purchasing and installing the solar energy systems. In addition, we also use debt, equity and other financing strategies to fund our operations. The allocation of the economic benefits between us and the fund investor and the corresponding accounting treatment varies depending on the structure of the investment fund.
We currently utilize three legal structures in our investment funds, which we refer to as: (i) pass-through financing obligations, (ii) partnership flips and (iii) joint venture (“JV”) inverted leases. We reflect pass-through financing obligations on our consolidated balance sheet as a pass-through financing obligation. We record the investor’s interest in partnership flips or JV inverted leases (which we define collectively as “consolidated joint ventures”) as noncontrolling interests or redeemable noncontrolling interests. These consolidated joint ventures are usually redeemable at our option and, in certain cases, at the investor’s option. If redemption is at our option or the consolidated joint ventures are not redeemable, we record the investor’s interest as a noncontrolling interest and account for the interest using the hypothetical liquidation at book value (“HLBV”) method. If the investor has the option to put their interest to us, we record the investor’s interest as a redeemable noncontrolling interest at the greater of the HLBV and the redemption value.
The table below provides an overview of our current investment funds (dollars in millions):
For further information regarding our investment funds, including the associated risks, see Item 1A. Risk Factors—"Our ability to provide our solar service offerings to customers on an economically viable basis depends in part on our ability to finance these systems with fund investors who seek particular tax and other benefits.", Note 11, Project Equity Financing, Note 13, Pass-Through Financing Obligations, Note 14, VIE Arrangements and Note 15, Redeemable Noncontrolling Interests to our consolidated financial statements appearing elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
Pass-through Financing Obligations
Pass-Through Financing Obligations. In this investment fund structure, we and the fund investor each utilize separate entities to facilitate the pass-through of the Commercial ITC or U.S. Treasury grants to the fund investors. We contribute solar energy systems to an “owner” entity in exchange for interests in the owner entity, and the fund investors contribute cash to a “tenant” entity in exchange for interests in the tenant entity.
Under our pass-through financing obligation structure, in accordance with the provisions of FASB, Accounting Standards Codification Topic 810 (“ASC 810”) Consolidation, we have determined that we are the primary beneficiary of the owner entity, and accordingly, we consolidate that entity. We have also determined that we are not the primary beneficiary of the tenant entity, and accordingly, we do not consolidate that entity.
In this investment fund structure, the investors make a series of large up-front payments as well as, in some instances, subsequent smaller quarterly lease payments through their respective tenant entity to the corresponding owner entity in exchange for the assignment of cash flows from Customer Agreements and certain other benefits associated with the Customer Agreements and related solar energy systems. We account for the payments from investors as borrowings by recording the proceeds received as financing obligations. The financing obligation is reduced over a period of approximately 22 years, or over seven years in the case of one fund, by customer payments under the Customer Agreements, U.S. Treasury grants (where applicable); and proceeds from the contracted resale of SRECs as they are received by the investor. In addition, funds paid for the Commercial ITC value upfront are initially recorded as a refund liability and recognized as revenue as the associated solar system reaches permission to operate ("PTO").
We account for these investment funds in our consolidated financial statements as if we have not assigned the Customer Agreement to the investor, and we record on our consolidated financial statements activities arising from the Customer Agreements and any related U.S. Treasury grants, Commercial ITCs monetized as part of the upfront payments received from the investor and SREC sales. The interest charge on our pass-through financing obligations is imputed at the inception of the fund based on the effective interest rate in the arrangement giving rise to the obligation and is updated prospectively as appropriate.
In certain arrangements, we agree to defer a portion of the up-front payments by arranging a loan between one of our indirectly wholly owned subsidiaries to a subsidiary of the investor’s tenant entity.
Consolidated Joint Ventures
Partnership Flips. Under partnership flip structures, we and our fund investors contribute cash into a partnership entity. The partnership uses the cash to acquire solar energy systems developed by us with signed Customer Agreements. Each fund investor receives a rate of return, typically on an after-tax basis, which varies by investment fund. Prior to the fund investor receiving its contractual rate of return or for a time period specified in the contractual arrangements, the fund investor receives a significant portion of the value attributable to customer payments, a majority of the accelerated tax depreciation and substantially all of the Commercial ITCs. After the fund investor receives its contractual rate of return or after the specified time period, we receive substantially all of the value attributable to the remaining customer payments and SREC sales.
Included within the Partnership Flips is the project equity financing we entered into in December 2016. We pooled and transferred our interests in certain financing funds into a special purpose entity (“SPE”) with a new investor. We did not recognize a gain or loss on the transfer of its interests in the financing funds and continue to consolidate the financing funds. The SPE’s assets and cash flows are not available to our other creditors, and the investor has no recourse to our other assets.
Under our partnership flip structures, we have determined that we control the partnership entity which is a variable interest entity (“VIE”), and accordingly we consolidate the entity and record the investor’s interest as either noncontrolling interests or redeemable noncontrolling interests in our consolidated balance sheets.
Inverted Leases. Under our inverted lease structure, we and the fund investor set up a multi-tiered investment vehicle that is comprised of two partnership entities which facilitate the pass through of the tax benefits to the fund investors. In this structure we contribute solar energy systems to an “owner” partnership entity in exchange for interests in the owner partnership and the fund investors contribute cash to a “tenant” partnership in exchange for interests in the tenant partnership, which in turn makes an investment in the owner partnership entity in exchange for interests in the owner partnership. The owner partnership uses the cash contributions received from the tenant partnership to purchase systems from us and/or fund installation of such systems. Under our existing JV inverted lease structure, a substantial portion of the value generated by the solar energy systems is provided to the fund investor for a specified period of time, which is generally based upon the period of time corresponding to the expiry of the recapture period associated with the Commercial ITCs. After that point in time, we receive substantially all of the value attributable to the long-term recurring customer payments and the other incentives. Generally, under the terms of each agreement, the investors’ contributions include the value of Commercial ITCs earned or grants to be received by the fund investor. Any other proceeds are allocated on a pro rata basis to the fund investor and us in accordance with their ownership percentages. Since Sunrun has the power to control both the owner and tenant entities, both entities are included in our consolidated financial statements.
We also have one JV inverted lease fund whereby we have a pro rata interest in the entity and we account for the noncontrolling interest’s share of income on a pro rata basis. Accordingly, the noncontrolling interest of this fund is carried on our balance sheet at the cumulative amount of capital contributions, reduced by cumulative distributions paid to the investor, as well as the pro rata share of their income. Under our JV inverted lease structure, we have determined that we control each VIE, and accordingly we consolidate the entity and record investor’s interest as a noncontrolling interest or redeemable noncontrolling interest.
For all of our partnership flips and JV inverted leases, the redeemable noncontrolling interest is carried on our balance sheet at the greater of the redemption value or the amount calculated under the HLBV method. The HLBV method estimates the amount that, if the fund’s assets were hypothetically sold at their book value, the investor would be entitled to receive according to the liquidation waterfall in the partnership agreement.
Key Operating Metrics
We regularly review a number of metrics, including the following key operating metrics, to evaluate our business, measure our performance, identify trends affecting our business, formulate financial projections and make strategic decisions. Some of our key operating metrics are estimates that are based on our management’s beliefs and assumptions and on information currently available to management. Although we believe that we have a reasonable basis for each of these estimates, we caution you that these estimates are based on a combination of assumptions that may prove to be inaccurate over time. Any inaccuracies could be material to our actual results when compared to our calculations. Please see the section titled “Risk Factors” in this Annual Report on Form 10-K for more information. Furthermore, other companies may calculate these metrics differently than we do now or in the future, which would reduce their usefulness as a comparative measure.
•Networked Solar Energy Capacity represents the aggregate megawatt production capacity of our solar energy systems, whether sold directly to customers or subject to executed Customer Agreements (i) for which we have confirmation that the systems are installed on the roof, subject to final inspection; (ii) in the case of certain system installations by our partners, for which we have accrued at least 80% of the expected project cost, or (iii) for multi-family and any other systems that have reached NTP, measured on the percentage of the project that has been completed based on expected project cost. Systems that have met this criteria are considered to be deployed.
•Gross Earning Assets is calculated as Gross Earning Assets Contracted Period plus Gross Earning Assets Renewal Period.
◦Gross Earning Assets Contracted Period represents the present value of the remaining net cash flows (discounted at 5%) during the initial term of our Customer Agreements as of the measurement date. It is calculated as the present value of cash flows (discounted at 5%) we expect to receive from Subscribers in future periods, after deducting expected operating and maintenance costs, equipment replacements costs, distributions to tax equity partners in consolidated joint venture partnership flip structures, and distributions to project equity investors. We include cash flows we expect to receive in future periods from state incentive and rebate programs, contracted sales of solar renewable energy credits, and awarded net cash flows from grid service programs with utility or grid operators.
◦Gross Earning Assets Renewal Period is the forecasted net present value we would receive upon or following the expiration of the initial Customer Agreement term but before the 30th anniversary of the system’s activation (either in the form of cash payments during any applicable renewal period or a system purchase at the end of the initial term), for Subscribers as of the measurement date. We calculate the Gross Earning Assets Renewal Period amount at the expiration of the initial contract term assuming either a system purchase or a renewal, forecasting only a 30-year customer relationship (although the customer may renew for additional years, or purchase the system), at a contract rate equal to 90% of the customer’s contractual rate in effect at the end of the initial contract term. After the initial contract term, our Customer Agreements typically automatically renew on an annual basis and the rate is initially set at up to a 10% discount to then-prevailing utility power prices.
◦Subscribers represent the cumulative number of Customer Agreements for systems that have been recognized as deployments through the measurement date.
•Customers represent the cumulative number of deployments, from our inception through the measurement date.
Gross Earning Assets is forecasted as of a specific date. It is forward-looking, and we use judgment in developing the assumptions used to calculate it. Factors that could impact Gross Earning Assets include, but are not limited to, customer payment defaults, or declines in utility rates or early termination of a contract in certain circumstances, including prior to installation.
The definitions of Gross Earning Assets, Gross Earning Assets Contracted Period, and Gross Earning Assets Renewal Period use a discount rate of 5%; whereas the definitions used previously in our periodic reports used a discount rate of 6%.
As a result of the acquisition of Vivint Solar on October 8, 2020, we added $2.9 billion of Gross Earning Assets, of which $2.0 billion related to Gross Earning Assets Contracted Period and $0.9 billion related to Gross Earning Assets Renewal Period.
The tables below provide a range of Gross Earning Asset amounts if different default, discount and purchase and renewal assumptions were used.
Gross Earning Assets Contracted Period:
Gross Earning Assets Renewal Period:
Total Gross Earning Assets:
Critical Accounting Policies and Estimates
Our discussion and analysis of our financial condition and results of operations are based upon our financial statements, which have been prepared in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles in the United States ("GAAP"). GAAP requires us to make estimates and assumptions that affect the reported amounts of assets, liabilities, revenue, expenses and related disclosures. We base our estimates on historical experience and on various other assumptions that we believe to be reasonable under the circumstances. In many instances, we could have reasonably used different accounting estimates, and in other instances, changes in the accounting estimates are reasonably likely to occur from period-to-period. Actual results could differ significantly from our estimates. Our future financial statements will be affected to the extent that our actual results materially differ from these estimates. For further information on all of our significant accounting policies, see Note 2, Summary of Significant Accounting Policies, to our consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
We believe that policies associated with our principles of consolidation, revenue recognition, goodwill, impairment of long-lived assets, provision for income taxes, business combinations and calculation of noncontrolling interests and redeemable noncontrolling interests have the greatest impact on our consolidated financial statements. Therefore, we consider these to be our critical accounting policies and estimates.
Principles of Consolidation
Our consolidated financial statements include our accounts and those of our subsidiaries in which we have a controlling financial interest. The typical condition for a controlling financial interest is holding a majority of the voting interests of an entity. However, a controlling financial interest may also exist in entities, such as VIEs, through arrangements that do not involve controlling financial interests. We consolidate any VIE of which we are the primary beneficiary, which is defined as the party that has (1) the power to direct the activities of a VIE that most significantly impact the VIE’s economic performance and (2) the obligation to absorb losses or receive benefits of the VIE that could potentially be significant to the VIE. We evaluate our relationships with our VIEs on an ongoing basis to determine whether we continue to be the primary beneficiary. Our financial statements reflect the assets and liabilities of VIEs that we consolidate. All intercompany transactions and balances have been eliminated in consolidation. For further information regarding consolidation of our investment funds, see “—Investment Funds” above.
We recognize revenue when control of goods or services is transferred to customers, in an amount that reflects the consideration we expect to be entitled to in exchange for those goods or services.
Customer Agreements and Incentives Revenue. Customer agreements and incentives revenue is primarily comprised of revenue from our Customer Agreements and sales of Commercial ITCs and SRECs to third parties.
We recognize revenue from a Customer Agreement when PTO for the applicable solar energy system is given by the local utility company or on the date daily operation commences if utility approval is not required. For Customer Agreements that include a fixed fee per month which entitles the customer to any and all electricity generated by the system, we recognize revenue evenly over the time that we satisfy our performance obligations over the initial term of Customer Agreements. For Customer Agreements that charge a fixed price per kilowatt hour, revenue is recognized based on the actual amount of power generated at rates specified under the contracts. Customer Agreements typically have an initial term of 20 or 25 years. After the initial contract term, our Customer Agreements typically automatically renew on an annual basis.
We also apply for and receive SRECs associated with the energy generated by our solar energy systems and sell them to third parties in certain jurisdictions. SREC revenue is estimated net of any variable consideration related to possible liquidated damages if we were to deliver fewer SRECs than contractually committed, and is generally recognized upon delivery of the SRECs to the counterparty.
Certain upfront payments related to Customer Agreements and SRECs are deemed to have a financing component, and therefore increase both revenue and interest expense by the same amount over the term of the related agreement. The additional revenue is included in the total transaction price to be recorded over the term of the agreement and is recognized based on the timing of the delivery. The interest expense is recognized based upon an amortization schedule which typically decreases throughout the term of the related agreement.
For pass-through financing obligation Funds, the value attributable to the Commercial ITCs is recognized in the period a solar system is granted PTO, at which point we have met our obligation to the investor. The Commercial ITCs are subject to recapture under the Internal Revenue Code (“Code”) if the underlying solar energy system either ceases to be a qualifying property or undergoes a change in ownership within five years of its placed-in-service date. The recapture amount decreases on the anniversary of the PTO date. We have not historically incurred a material recapture of Commercial ITCs, and do not expect to experience a material recapture of Commercial ITCs in the future.
Consideration from customers is considered variable due to the performance guarantee under Customer Agreements and liquidated damage provisions under SREC contracts in the event minimum deliveries are not achieved. Customer Agreements with a performance guarantee provide a credit to the customer if the system's cumulative production, as measured on various PTO anniversary dates, is below our guarantee of a specified minimum. Revenue is recognized to the extent it is probable that a significant reversal of such revenue will not occur.
Solar Energy Systems and Product Sales. Solar energy systems sales are comprised of revenue from the sale of solar energy systems directly to customers. We generally recognize revenue from solar energy systems sold to customers when the solar energy system passes inspection by the authority having jurisdiction, which inspection generally occurs after installation but prior to PTO, at which time we have met the performance obligation in the contract. For solar energy system sales that include delivery obligations up until interconnection to the local power grid with permission to operate, we recognize revenue at PTO.
Product sales revenue consists of revenue from the sale of solar panels, inverters, racking systems,
roofing services, fees for extended services on solar energy systems sold to customers and other solar energy products sold to resellers, as well as the sale of customer leads to third parties, including our partners and other solar providers. Product sales revenue is recognized when control is transferred, generally upon shipment. Customer lead revenue is recognized at the time the lead is delivered.
Goodwill represents the excess of the purchase price over the fair value of assets acquired and liabilities assumed. Goodwill is reviewed for impairment at least annually or whenever events or changes in circumstances indicate that the carrying amount may be impaired. We have determined that we operate as one reporting unit and our goodwill is tested for impairment at the enterprise level. We perform our annual impairment test of goodwill on October 1 of each fiscal year or whenever events or circumstances change or occur that would indicate that goodwill might be impaired. When assessing goodwill for impairment, we use qualitative and if necessary, quantitative methods in accordance with FASB ASC Topic 350, Goodwill. We also consider our enterprise value and if necessary, a discounted cash flow model, which involves assumptions and estimates, including our future financial performance, weighted average cost of capital and interpretation of currently enacted tax laws.
Circumstances that could indicate impairment and require us to perform a quantitative impairment test include a significant decline in our financial results, a significant decline in our enterprise value relative to our net book value, an unanticipated change in competition or our market share and a significant change in our strategic plans.
Impairment of Long-Lived Assets
The carrying amounts of our long-lived assets, including solar energy systems and definite-lived intangible assets, are periodically reviewed for impairment whenever events or changes in circumstances indicate that the carrying value of these assets may not be recoverable or that the useful life is shorter than originally estimated. Factors that we consider in deciding when to perform an impairment review would include significant negative industry or economic trends, and significant changes or planned changes in our use of the assets. Recoverability of these assets is measured by comparison of the carrying amount of each asset group to the future undiscounted cash flows the asset is expected to generate over its remaining life. If the asset is considered to be impaired, the amount of any impairment is measured as the difference between the carrying value and the fair value of the impaired asset. If the useful life is shorter than originally estimated, we amortize the remaining carrying value over the new shorter useful life.
Provision for Income Taxes
We account for income taxes under an asset and liability approach. Deferred income taxes reflect the impact of temporary differences between assets and liabilities recognized for financial reporting purposes and the amounts recognized for income tax reporting purposes, net operating loss carryforwards and other tax credits measured by applying currently enacted tax laws. A valuation allowance is provided when necessary to reduce deferred tax assets to an amount that is more likely than not to be realized. We consider all available evidence, both positive and negative, including historical levels of income, estimates of future taxable income, reversing taxable temporary differences, and ongoing tax planning strategies in assessing the need for a valuation allowance. We recognize the effect of tax rate and law changes on deferred taxes in the reporting period in which the legislation is enacted.
We sell solar energy systems to the investment funds. As the investment funds are consolidated by us, the gain on the sale of the solar energy systems is not recognized in the consolidated financial statements. However, this gain is recognized for tax reporting purposes. We account for the income tax consequences of these intra-entity transfers, both current and deferred, as a component of income tax expense and deferred tax liability, net during the period in which the transfers occur.
We account for investment tax credits as a reduction of income tax expense in the year in which the credits arise.
We determine whether a tax position is more likely than not to be sustained upon examination, including resolution of any related appeals or litigation processes, based on the technical merits of the position. We use a two-step approach to recognizing and measuring uncertain tax positions. The first step is to evaluate the tax position for recognition by determining if the weight of available evidence indicates that it is more likely than not that the position will be sustained upon tax authority examination, including resolution of related appeals or litigation processes, if any. The second step is to measure the tax benefit as the largest amount that is more than 50% likely of being realized upon ultimate settlement.
Our policy is to include interest and penalties related to unrecognized tax benefits, if any, within the provision for taxes in the consolidated statements of operations.
We allocate the fair value of purchase price to the tangible assets acquired, liabilities assumed and intangible assets acquired based on their estimated fair values. Any residual purchase price is recorded as goodwill. The allocation of the purchase price requires management to make significant estimates in determining the fair values of assets acquired and liabilities assumed, especially with respect to the solar energy systems acquired as part of our acquisition of Vivint Solar.
Significant estimates in valuing certain tangible and intangible assets include but are not limited to discount rates. These estimates are inherently uncertain and unpredictable.
See Note 3, Acquisition to our consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
Noncontrolling Interests and Redeemable Noncontrolling Interests
Our noncontrolling interests and redeemable noncontrolling interests represent fund investors’ interests in the net assets of certain investment funds, which we consolidate, that we have entered into in order to finance the costs of solar energy facilities under Customer Agreements. We have determined that the provisions in the contractual arrangements of the investment funds represent substantive profit-sharing arrangements, which gives rise to the noncontrolling interests and redeemable noncontrolling interests. We have further determined that for all but two of these arrangements, the appropriate methodology for attributing income and loss to the noncontrolling interests and redeemable noncontrolling interests each period is a balance sheet approach using the HLBV method.
Attributing income and loss to the noncontrolling interests and redeemable noncontrolling interests under the HLBV method requires the use of various inputs to calculate the amounts that fund investors would receive upon a hypothetical liquidation. Changes in these inputs, including change in tax rates, can have a significant impact on the amount that fund investors would receive upon a hypothetical liquidation.
We classify certain noncontrolling interests with redemption features that are not solely within our control outside of permanent equity on our consolidated balance sheets. Redeemable noncontrolling interests are reported using the greater of their carrying value at each reporting date as determined by the HLBV method or their estimated redemption value in each reporting period. Estimating the redemption value of the redeemable noncontrolling interests requires the use of significant assumptions and estimates such as projected future cash flows at the time the redemption feature can be exercised.
We determine the net income (loss) attributable to common stockholders by deducting from net loss, the net loss attributable to noncontrolling interests and redeemable noncontrolling interests in these funds. The net loss attributable to noncontrolling interests and redeemable noncontrolling interests represents the fund investors’ allocable share in the results of operations of these investment funds. For these funds, we have determined that the provisions in the contractual arrangements represent substantive profit sharing arrangements, where the allocations to the partners sometimes differ from the stated ownership percentages. We have further determined that, for these arrangements, the appropriate methodology for attributing income and loss to the noncontrolling interests and redeemable noncontrolling interests each period is a balance sheet approach using the HLBV method. Under the HLBV method, the amounts of income and loss attributed to the noncontrolling interests and redeemable noncontrolling interests in the consolidated statements of operations reflect changes in the amounts the fund investors would hypothetically receive at each balance sheet date under the liquidation provisions of the contractual provisions of these funds, assuming the net assets of the respective investment funds were liquidated at the carrying value determined in accordance with GAAP. The fund investors’ interest in the results of operations of these investment funds is initially determined by calculating the difference in the noncontrolling interests and redeemable noncontrolling interests’ claim under the HLBV method at the start and end of each reporting period, after taking into account any contributions and distributions between the fund and the fund investors and subject to the redemption provisions in certain funds.
Results of Operations
The results of operations presented below should be reviewed in conjunction with the consolidated financial statements and notes thereto included elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. Our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2019 includes a discussion and analysis of our financial condition and results of operations for the year ended December 31, 2018 in Item 7. of Part II, “Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations.”
We completed the acquisition of Vivint Solar on October 8, 2020, which plays a significant role in the year over year changes discussed below, as commencing from the acquisition date our consolidated financial statements include the assets, liabilities, operating results and cashflows of Vivint Solar. Further information about the acquisition of Vivint Solar can be found in Note 3, Acquisitions to our consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
Comparison of the Years Ended December 31, 2020 and 2019
Customer Agreements and Incentives. Revenue from Customer Agreements increased by $87.0 million. Revenue from Vivint Solar Customer Agreements from the acquisition date through December 31, 2020, accounted for $32.5 million of the increase. The remaining $54.5 million increase was due to both an increase in solar energy systems under Customer Agreements being placed in service in 2020 and a full year of revenue recognized in 2020 for systems placed in service in 2019 versus only a partial amount of such revenue related to the period in which the assets were in service in 2019. Revenue from incentives, which consists of sales of Commercial ITCs and SRECs, increased by $9.3 million when compared to the prior year. Approximately $18.9 million of this increase relates to activity for Vivint Solar incentives from the acquisition date through December 31, 2020. Offsetting this increase was a decrease due to the sale of Commercial ITCs under a financing obligation fund opened in 2018, with PTO activity in that fund primarily concluding during the second quarter of 2019. There has been no such comparable fund opened in 2019 or 2020.
Solar Energy Systems and Product Sales. Revenue from solar energy systems sales decreased by $13.6 million compared to the prior year due to decreased demand through retail partners. This decrease was offset by revenue of $27.2 million from solar energy systems sales by Vivint Solar from the acquisition date through December 31, 2020. Product sales decreased by $19.1 million compared to the prior year primarily due to a decrease in the volume of wholesale products sold, which has been impacted by COVID-19 and customers' reduced purchases in 2020 after purchasing safe harbor materials in 2019 for use in 2020. Partially offsetting this decline was approximately $2.7 million of product sales by Vivint Solar from the acquisition date through December 31, 2020.
Cost of Customer Agreements and Incentives. The $105.3 million increase in Cost of customer agreements and incentives was due to the increase in solar energy systems placed in service in 2020, plus a full year of costs recognized in 2019 for systems placed in service in 2019 versus only a partial amount of such expenses related to the period in which the assets were in service in 2019. Additionally, there was an increase of $60.1 million related to Vivint Solar’s costs from the acquisition date through December 31, 2020, which included $29.7 million of depreciation expense on solar fixed assets recorded in the initial purchase accounting for the acquisition. The depreciable basis of Vivint Solar’s solar fixed assets increased by $1.1 billion based on the excess of fair value over book value as of the acquisition date.
The Cost of customer agreements and incentives increased to 80% of customer agreements and incentives revenue during 2020, from 72% during 2019. The increase was impacted by the acquisition of Vivint Solar, which had negative gross margins due to seasonality, as well as the increase in depreciable basis discussed above.
Cost of Solar Energy Systems and Product Sales. There was a $7.6 million decrease in Cost of solar energy systems and product sales which was the result of a $34.3 million decrease related to the decreases in the solar energy systems and product sales discussed above, offset by the addition of $26.7 million of the Vivint Solar costs from the acquisition date through December 31, 2020. Vivint Solar’s cost of solar energy systems sales were impacted by a $7.7 million increase in inventory based on the excess of fair value over book value as of the acquisition date.
Sales and Marketing Expense. The $77.2 million increase in Sales and marketing expense was primarily attributable to $67.9 million related to the inclusion of Vivint Solar from the acquisition date through December 31, 2020, which included $43.7 million of stock-based compensation expense based on the fair value at the time of the
acquisition. The remaining increase in Sales and marketing expense is primarily attributable to $9.6 million in non-recurring and restructuring costs incurred during the twelve months ended December 31, 2020, as well as increases in costs to acquire customers through our retail and sales lead generating partners and in advertising costs, partially offset by a decrease in headcount driving lower compensation, as well as a fair value adjustment on contingent consideration. Included in sales and marketing expense were $14.4 million and $11.8 million of amortization of costs to obtain Customer Agreements for 2020 and 2019, respectively.
Research and Development Expense. The $4.0 million decrease in Research and development expense was primarily attributable to a decrease in consulting fees, as well as a decrease in headcount resulting in lower employee compensation. Partially offsetting these decreases was approximately $0.4 million related to Vivint Solar from the acquisition date through December 31, 2020.
General and Administrative Expense. The $141.7 million increase in General and administrative expenses was primarily attributable to $89.8 million related to the inclusion of Vivint Solar from the acquisition date through December 31, 2020, which included $73.3 million of stock-based compensation expense based on the fair value at the time of the acquisition. The remaining increases related to a $6.7 million legal settlement accrual, $35.6 million in nonrecurring (primarily acquisition-related) costs incurred during 2020, as well as an increase in stock-based compensation.
Interest expense, net. The increase in Interest expense, net of $56.4 million included $25.2 million of interest expense associated with the debt acquired with Vivint Solar. The remaining increase is primarily related to additional non-recourse and pass-through financing obligation debt entered into in 2020. Included in net interest expense is $24.8 million and $28.6 million of non-cash interest imputed under prepaid Customer Agreements for 2020 and 2019, respectively.
Other income (expenses), net. The decrease in other expenses of $17.4 million relates primarily to losses on extinguishment of debt related to an early repayment of a pass-through financing obligation and certain non-recourse debt in 2019, with no such comparable activity in 2020. Additionally, there was a $6.5 million gain on extinguishment of debt recognized in 2020.
Income Tax Benefit
The increase in Income tax benefit of $52.4 million primarily relates to an increase in tax benefit related to a higher pre-tax loss and an increase in stock compensation deductions that was offset by an increase in noncontrolling interest and redeemable noncontrolling interests and valuation allowance.
Given our net operating loss carryforwards as of December 31, 2020, we do not expect to pay income tax, including in connection with our 2020 income tax provision, until our net operating losses are fully utilized. As of December 31, 2020, the Company had net operating loss carryforwards for federal and state income tax purposes of approximately $720.7 million and $2.1 billion, respectively, which will begin to expire in 2028 for federal purposes
and in 2024 for state purposes. In addition, federal and certain state net operating loss carryforwards generated in tax years beginning after December 31, 2017 total $1.1 billion and $176.3 million, respectively, and have indefinite carryover periods and do not expire.
Net Loss Attributable to Noncontrolling Interests and Redeemable Noncontrolling Interests
The increase in Net loss attributable to noncontrolling interests and redeemable noncontrolling interests was primarily the result of an additional $25.3 million net loss related Vivint Solar's noncontrolling interests and redeemable noncontrolling interests from the acquisition date through December 31, 2020.
Liquidity and Capital Resources
As of December 31, 2020, we had cash of $520.0 million, which consisted of cash held in checking and savings accounts with financial institutions. This balance included $433.2 million of cash assumed as a result of the acquisition of Vivint Solar. We finance our operations mainly through a variety of financing fund arrangements that we have formed with fund investors, cash generated from our sources of revenue and borrowings from secured credit facilities arrangements with syndicates of banks and from secured, long-term non-recourse loan arrangements. In 2020, we received $595.0 million of new commitments on secured credit facilities arrangements with syndicates of banks and $1.3 billion of commitments from secured, long-term non-recourse loan arrangements. Our principal uses of cash are funding our business, including the costs of acquisition and installation of solar energy systems, satisfaction of our obligations under our debt instruments and other working capital requirements. As of December 31, 2020, we had outstanding borrowings of $230.7 million on our $250.0 million corporate bank line of credit maturing in April 2022, as well as outstanding borrowings of $60.0 million on our $200.0 million corporate asset financing facility maturing in June 2023. Additionally, we have purchase commitments, which have the ability to be canceled without significant penalties, with multiple suppliers to purchase $56.9 million of photovoltaic modules, inverters and batteries by the end of 2022. In January 2021, we issued $400.0 million of convertible senior notes with a maturity date of February 1, 2026, for net proceeds of approximately $389.0 million. Our business model requires substantial outside financing arrangements to grow the business and facilitate the deployment of additional solar energy systems. The solar energy systems that are operational are expected to generate a positive return rate over the term of the Customer Agreement, typically 20 or 25 years. However, in order to grow, we will continue to be dependent on financing from outside parties. If financing is not available to us on acceptable terms if and when needed, we may be required to reduce planned spending, which could have a material adverse effect on our operations. While there can be no assurances, we anticipate raising additional required capital from new and existing investors. We believe our cash, investment fund commitments and available borrowings as further described below will be sufficient to meet our anticipated cash needs for at least the next 12 months. The following table summarizes our cash flows for the periods indicated:
During 2020, we used $318.0 million in net cash from operating activities. The driver of our operating cash inflow consists of payments received from customers as well as incentives. The driver of our operating cash outflow consists of the costs of our revenue, as well as sales, marketing and general and administrative costs. During 2020, our operating cash outflows were $239.0 million from our net loss excluding non-cash and non-operating items. Changes in working capital resulted in a net cash outflow of $79.0 million.
During 2019, we used $204.5 million in net cash from operating activities. The driver of our operating cash inflow consists of payments received from customers as well as incentives. The driver of our operating cash outflow consists of the costs of our revenue, as well as sales, marketing and general and administrative costs. During 2019, our operating cash outflows were $174.7 million from our net loss excluding non-cash and non-operating items. Changes in working capital resulted in a net cash outflow of $29.7 million.
During 2020, we used $497.8 million in cash in investing activities. The majority was used to design, acquire and install solar energy systems and components under our long-term Customer Agreements. During 2020, we contributed $65.4 million as an investment in a home electrification venture. Offsetting these outflows was $537.2 million of cash and restricted cash provided by the acquisition of Vivint Solar on October 8, 2020.
During 2019, we used $843.3 million in cash in investing activities. The majority was used to design, acquire and install solar energy systems and components under our long-term Customer Agreements.
During 2020, we generated $1.2 billion from financing activities. This was primarily driven by $712.8 million in net proceeds from fund investors, $329.1 million in net proceeds from debt, offset by $10.6 million in repayments under finance lease obligations. Additionally, during 2020, we received $75.0 million from the sale and issuance of shares pursuant to a subscription agreement with SK E&S Co., Ltd.
During 2019, we generated $1.1 billion from financing activities. This was primarily driven by $632.2 million in net proceeds from fund investors, $474.8 million in net proceeds from debt, offset by $13.9 million in repayments under finance lease obligations.
Debt, Equity, and Financing Fund Commitments
For a discussion of the terms and conditions of debt instruments and changes thereof in the period, refer to Note 11, Indebtedness, to our consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
Investment Fund Commitments
As of December 31, 2020, we had committed and available capital of approximately $332.5 million that may only be used to purchase and install solar energy systems. We intend to establish new investment funds in the future, and we may also use debt, equity or other financing strategies to finance our business.
Recent Accounting Pronouncements
See Note 2, Summary of Significant Accounting Policies, to our consolidated financial statement included elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
Item 7A. Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk.
We are exposed to certain market risks in the ordinary course of our business. Our primary exposure includes changes in interest rates because certain borrowings bear interest at floating rates based on LIBOR plus a specified margin. We sometimes manage our interest rate exposure on floating-rate debt by entering into derivative instruments to hedge all or a portion of our interest rate exposure in certain debt facilities. We do not enter into any derivative instruments for trading or speculative purposes. Changes in economic conditions could result in higher interest rates, thereby increasing our interest expense and operating expenses and reducing funds available for capital investments, operations and other purposes. A hypothetical 10% increase in our interest rates on our variable rate debt facilities would have increased our interest expense by $4.1 million and $3.9 million for the year ended December 31, 2020 and 2019, respectively. Following our acquisition of Vivint Solar on October 8, 2020, we expect the impact of interest rate changes on our variable debt facilities to be greater going forward. For example, a hypothetical 10% increase in interest rates on our variable rate debt facilities would have increased our interest expense by $1.0 million for the three months ended December 31, 2020.
Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data.
INDEX TO CONSOLIDATED FINANCIAL STATEMENTS
Report of Ernst & Young LLP, Independent Registered Public Accounting Firm
To the Stockholders and the Board of Directors of Sunrun Inc.
Opinion on the Financial Statements
We have audited the accompanying consolidated balance sheets of Sunrun Inc. (the Company) as of December 31, 2020 and 2019, the related consolidated statements of operations, comprehensive (loss) income, redeemable noncontrolling interests and stockholders’ equity, and cash flows for each of the three years in the period ended December 31, 2020, and the related notes (collectively referred to as the “consolidated financial statements”). In our opinion, the consolidated financial statements present fairly, in all material respects, the financial position of the Company at December 31, 2020 and 2019, and the results of its operations and its cash flows for each of the three years in the period ended December 31, 2020, in conformity with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles.
We also have audited, in accordance with the standards of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (United States) (PCAOB), the Company's internal control over financial reporting as of December 31, 2020, based on criteria established in Internal Control-Integrated Framework issued by the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission (2013 framework), and our report dated February 25, 2021 expressed an unqualified opinion thereon.
Basis for Opinion
These financial statements are the responsibility of the Company's management. Our responsibility is to express an opinion on the Company’s financial statements based on our audits. We are a public accounting firm registered with the PCAOB and are required to be independent with respect to the Company in accordance with the U.S. federal securities laws and the applicable rules and regulations of the Securities and Exchange Commission and the PCAOB.
We conducted our audits in accordance with the standards of the PCAOB. Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain reasonable assurance about whether the financial statements are free of material misstatement, whether due to error or fraud. Our audits included performing procedures to assess the risks of material misstatement of the financial statements, whether due to error or fraud, and performing procedures that respond to those risks. Such procedures included examining, on a test basis, evidence regarding the amounts and disclosures in the financial statements. Our audits also included evaluating the accounting principles used and significant estimates made by management, as well as evaluating the overall presentation of the financial statements. We believe that our audits provide a reasonable basis for our opinion.
Critical Audit Matters
The critical audit matters communicated below are matters arising from the current period audit of the financial statements that were communicated or required to be communicated to the audit committee and that: (1) relate to accounts or disclosures that are material to the financial statements and (2) involved our especially challenging, subjective or complex judgments. The communication of critical audit matters does not alter in any way our opinion on the consolidated financial statements, taken as a whole, and we are not, by communicating the critical audit matters below, providing separate opinions on the critical audit matters or on the accounts or disclosures to which they relate.
/s/ Ernst & Young LLP
We have served as the Company’s auditor since 2010.
San Francisco, California
February 25, 2021
Report of Ernst & Young LLP, Independent Registered Public Accounting Firm
To the Stockholders and the Board of Directors of Sunrun Inc.
Opinion on Internal Control over Financial Reporting
We have audited Sunrun Inc.’s internal control over financial reporting as of December 31, 2020, based on criteria established in Internal Control - Integrated Framework issued by the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission (2013 framework) (the COSO criteria). In our opinion, Sunrun Inc. (the Company) maintained, in all material respects, effective internal control over financial reporting as of December 31, 2020, based on the COSO criteria.
As indicated in the accompanying Management’s Report on Internal Control over Financial Reporting, management’s assessment of and conclusion on the effectiveness of internal control over financial reporting did not include the internal controls of Vivint Solar, Inc., which is included in the 2020 consolidated financial statements of the Company and constituted $7.9 billion of total assets as of December 31, 2020 and $81.3 million of total revenues for the year then ended. Our audit of internal control over financial reporting of the Company also did not include an evaluation of the internal control over financial reporting of Vivint Solar, Inc.
We also have audited, in accordance with the standards of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (United States) (PCAOB), the 2020 consolidated financial statements of the Company and our report dated February 25, 2021 expressed an unqualified opinion on those consolidated financial statements.
Basis for Opinion
The Company’s management is responsible for maintaining effective internal control over financial reporting and for its assessment of the effectiveness of internal control over financial reporting included in the accompanying Management’s Report on Internal Control Over Financial Reporting. Our responsibility is to express an opinion on the Company’s internal control over financial reporting based on our audit. We are a public accounting firm registered with the PCAOB and are required to be independent with respect to the Company in accordance with the U.S. federal securities laws and the applicable rules and regulations of the Securities and Exchange Commission and the PCAOB.
We conducted our audit in accordance with the standards of the PCAOB. Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain reasonable assurance about whether effective internal control over financial reporting was maintained in all material respects.
Our audit included obtaining an understanding of internal control over financial reporting, assessing the risk that a material weakness exists, testing and evaluating the design and operating effectiveness of internal control based on the assessed risk, and performing such other procedures as we considered necessary in the circumstances. We believe that our audit provides a reasonable basis for our opinion.
Definition and Limitations of Internal Control Over Financial Reporting
A company’s internal control over financial reporting is a process designed to provide reasonable assurance regarding the reliability of financial reporting and the preparation of financial statements for external purposes in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles. A company’s internal control over financial reporting includes those policies and procedures that (1) pertain to the maintenance of records that, in reasonable detail, accurately and fairly reflect the transactions and dispositions of the assets of the company; (2) provide reasonable assurance that transactions are recorded as necessary to permit preparation of financial statements in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles, and that receipts and expenditures of the company are being made only in accordance with authorizations of management and directors of the company; and (3) provide reasonable assurance regarding prevention or timely detection of unauthorized acquisition, use, or disposition of the company’s assets that could have a material effect on the financial statements.
Because of its inherent limitations, internal control over financial reporting may not prevent or detect misstatements. Also, projections of any evaluation of effectiveness to future periods are subject to the risk that controls may become inadequate because of changes in conditions, or that the degree of compliance with the policies or procedures may deteriorate.
/s/ Ernst & Young LLP
We have served as the Company’s auditor since 2010.
San Francisco, California
February 25, 2021
Consolidated Balance Sheets
(In Thousands, Except Share Par Values)
(1)The Company’s consolidated assets as of December 31, 2020 and 2019 include $7,190,866 and $3,521,202, respectively, in assets of variable interest entities, or “VIEs”, that can only be used to settle obligations of the VIEs. Solar energy systems, net, as of December 31, 2020 and 2019 were $6,748,127 and $3,259,712, respectively; cash as of December 31, 2020 and 2019 were $219,502 and $133,362, respectively; restricted cash as of December 31, 2020 and 2019 were $34,559 and $2,746, respectively; accounts receivable, net as of December 31, 2020 and 2019 were $35,152 and $21,956, respectively; inventories as of December 31, 2020 and December 31, 2019 of $23,306 and $15,721; prepaid expenses and other current assets as of December 31, 2020 and 2019 were $2,629 and $554, respectively and other assets as of December 31, 2020 and 2019 were $127,591 and $87,151, respectively. The Company’s consolidated liabilities as of December 31, 2020 and 2019 include $1,857,967 and $774,564, respectively, in liabilities of VIEs whose creditors have no recourse to the Company. These liabilities include accounts payable as of December 31, 2020 and 2019 of $15,609 and $11,531, respectively; distributions payable to noncontrolling interests and redeemable noncontrolling interests as of December 31, 2020 and 2019 of $28,577 and $16,012, respectively; accrued expenses and other liabilities as of December 31, 2020 and 2019 of $24,660 and $10,740, respectively; deferred revenue as of December 31, 2020 and 2019 of $538,067 and $482,138, respectively; deferred grants as of December 31, 2020 and 2019 of $26,898 and $28,034, respectively; non-recourse debt as of December 31, 2020 and 2019 of $1,192,411 and $206,476, respectively; and other liabilities as of December 31, 2020 and December 31, 2019 of $31,745 and $19,633, respectively.
The accompanying notes are an integral part of these consolidated financial statements.
Consolidated Statements of Operations
(In Thousands, Except Per Share Amounts)
The accompanying notes are an integral part of these consolidated financial statements.
Consolidated Statements of Comprehensive (Loss) Income
The accompanying notes are an integral part of these consolidated financial statements.
Consolidated Statements of Redeemable Noncontrolling Interests and Stockholders' Equity