Attached files

file filename
EX-10.38 - EX-10.38 - Vivint Solar, Inc.vslr-ex1038_462.htm
EX-32.2 - EX-32.2 - Vivint Solar, Inc.vslr-ex322_8.htm
EX-32.1 - EX-32.1 - Vivint Solar, Inc.vslr-ex321_6.htm
EX-31.2 - EX-31.2 - Vivint Solar, Inc.vslr-ex312_11.htm
EX-31.1 - EX-31.1 - Vivint Solar, Inc.vslr-ex311_9.htm
EX-23.1 - EX-23.1 - Vivint Solar, Inc.vslr-ex231_518.htm
EX-21.1 - EX-21.1 - Vivint Solar, Inc.vslr-ex211_459.htm
EX-10.53 - EX-10.53 - Vivint Solar, Inc.vslr-ex1053_458.htm
EX-10.52 - EX-10.52 - Vivint Solar, Inc.vslr-ex1052_460.htm
EX-10.25 - EX-10.25 - Vivint Solar, Inc.vslr-ex1025_461.htm
EX-10.18 - EX-10.18 - Vivint Solar, Inc.vslr-ex1018_400.htm
EX-10.17 - EX-10.17 - Vivint Solar, Inc.vslr-ex1017_399.htm

 

 

 

UNITED STATES

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

Washington, D.C. 20549

 

FORM 10-K

 

(Mark One)

ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2016

OR

TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

Commission File Number 001-36642

 

VIVINT SOLAR, INC.

(Exact name of Registrant as specified in its Charter)

 

 

Delaware

 

45-5605880

(State or other jurisdiction of

incorporation or organization)

 

(I.R.S. Employer
Identification No.)

1800 West Ashton Blvd.

Lehi, UT 84043

(Address of principal executive offices) (Zip Code)

(877) 404-4129

(Registrant’s telephone number, including area code)

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:

 

Common Stock, Par Value $0.01 Per Share;

 

Common stock traded on the New York Stock Exchange

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 if disclosure of delinquent filers pursuant to Item 405 of Regulation S-K (§229.405) is not contained herein, and will not be contained, to the best of Registrant’s knowledge, in definitive proxy or information statements incorporated by reference in Part III of this Form 10-K or any amendment to this Form 10-K.  

Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, or a smaller reporting company. See the definition of “large accelerated filer”, “accelerated filer”, and “smaller reporting company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act. (Check one):

 

Large accelerated filer

 

  

Accelerated filer

 

 

 

 

 

Non-accelerated filer

 

(Do not check if a small reporting company)

  

Small reporting company

 

Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act).     YES       NO  

As of June 30, 2016, the last business day of the registrant’s most recently completed second quarter, the aggregate market value of voting stock held by non-affiliates of the registrant based on the closing price of $3.07 for shares of the registrant’s common stock as reported by the New York Stock Exchange, was approximately $78.4 million.

As of March 1, 2017, there were 110,262,711 shares of registrant’s common stock outstanding.

Portions of the Registrant’s Definitive Proxy Statement relating to the Annual Meeting of Shareholders, scheduled to be held on June 20, 2017, are incorporated by reference into Part III of this report.

 

 


 

Table of Contents

 

 

 

Page

PART I

 

 

Item 1.

Business

2

Item 1A.

Risk Factors

8

Item 1B.

Unresolved Staff Comments

36

Item 2.

Properties

37

Item 3.

Legal Proceedings

37

Item 4.

Mine Safety Disclosures

37

 

 

 

PART II

 

 

Item 5.

Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

38

Item 6.

Selected Financial Data

39

Item 7.

Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations

40

Item 7A.

Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk

63

Item 8.

Financial Statements and Supplementary Data

64

Item 9.

Changes in and Disagreements With Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure

111

Item 9A.

Controls and Procedures

111

Item 9B.

Other Information

112

 

 

 

PART III

 

 

Item 10.

Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance

113

Item 11.

Executive Compensation

113

Item 12.

Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters

113

Item 13.

Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence

113

Item 14.

Principal Accounting Fees and Services

113

 

 

 

PART IV

 

 

Item 15.

Exhibits, Financial Statement Schedules

114

 

 

 

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PART I

 

Forward-looking Statements

This report, including the sections entitled “Business,” “Risk Factors,” and “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and certain information incorporated by reference into this report contain forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. Forward-looking statements are identified by words such as “believe,” “anticipate,” “expect,” “intend,” “plan,” “will,” “may,” “seek” and other similar expressions. You should read these statements carefully because they discuss future expectations, contain projections of future results of operations or financial condition or state other “forward-looking” information. These statements relate to our future plans, objectives, expectations, intentions and financial performance and the assumptions that underlie these statements.

These forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to:

 

federal, state and local regulations and policies governing the electric utility industry;

 

the regulatory regime for our offerings and for third-party owned solar energy systems;

 

technical limitations imposed by operators of the power grid;

 

the continuation of tax rebates, credits and incentives, including changes to the rates of the investment tax credit, or ITC, beginning in 2020;

 

the price of utility-generated electricity and electricity from other sources;

 

our ability to finance the installation of solar energy systems;

 

our ability to efficiently install and interconnect solar energy systems to the power grid;

 

our ability to manage growth, product offering mix and costs;

 

our ability to further penetrate existing markets and expand into new markets;

 

our ability to develop new product offerings and distribution channels;

 

our ability to increase solar energy system sales;

 

our relationships with our sister company APX Group, Inc., or Vivint, and The Blackstone Group L.P., our Sponsor;

 

our ability to manage our supply chain;

 

the cost of solar panels and the residual value of solar panels after the expiration of our long-term customer contracts;

 

the course and outcome of litigation and other disputes; and

 

our ability to maintain our brand and protect our intellectual property.

In combination with the risk factors we have identified, we cannot assure you that the forward-looking statements in this report will prove to be accurate. Further, if our forward-looking statements prove to be inaccurate, the inaccuracy may be material. In light of the significant uncertainties in these forward-looking statements, you should not regard these statements as a representation or warranty by us or any other person that we will achieve our objectives and plans in any specified time frame, or at all, or as predictions of future events. Moreover, neither we nor any other person assumes responsibility for the accuracy and completeness of the forward-looking statements. We undertake no obligation to publicly update any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as required by law.


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Item 1. Business.

BUSINESS

Overview

We offer distributed solar energy — electricity generated by a solar energy system installed at or near customers’ locations — to residential customers through a customer-focused and neighborhood-driven direct-to-home sales model. Through investment funds, we own a substantial majority of the solar energy systems we install and provide solar electricity pursuant to long-term contracts with our customers. Additionally, we wholly own a smaller number of solar energy systems outside of investment funds. Increasingly, we also sell solar energy systems outright to customers.

Customers that enter long-term contracts pay little to no money upfront, typically receive material savings on solar-generated electricity rates relative to utility-generated electricity rates following system interconnection to the power grid, and continue to benefit from locked-in energy prices over the term of their contracts, insulating them against unpredictable increases in utility rates. The majority of these customers sign 20-year contracts for solar electricity generated by our systems and pay us directly over the term of their contracts.

Our 20-year customer contracts generate predictable, recurring cash flows and establish a long-term relationship with homeowners. As of December 31, 2016, the average estimated nominal contracted payment for our long-term customer contracts was approximately $28,000, and there is the potential for additional payments if customers choose to renew their contracts at the end of the term. The ownership of the solar energy systems we install under long-term customer contracts allows us and the other fund investors to benefit from various local, state and federal incentives. We obtain financing based on cash flows from customers and these incentives. When customers decide to move or sell the home prior to the end of their contract term, the customer contracts allow our customers to transfer their obligations to the new home buyer, subject to a creditworthiness determination. If the home buyer is not creditworthy or does not wish to assume the customer’s obligations, the contract allows us to require the customer to purchase the system. Our sources of financing are used to offset our direct installation costs and most, if not all, of our allocated overhead expenses. As of February 28, 2017, we had raised 20 investment funds to which investors such as banks have committed to invest approximately $1.3 billion, which will enable us to install solar energy systems of total fair market value approximating $3.3 billion. As of February 28, 2017, we had remaining tax equity commitments to fund approximately 80 megawatts of future deployments, which we estimate to be sufficient to fund solar energy systems with a total fair market value of approximately $310 million.

In 2015, we began offering our customers the option to purchase solar energy systems for cash or through third-party loan financing, which we anticipate becoming an increasingly significant portion of our business. Selling solar energy systems allows us to address customers who prefer to own the solar energy system and assume the long-term benefits and risks of system ownership. Customers who choose this option are generally eligible for various local, state and federal incentives, which may help to offset the cost of their solar energy system.

We have developed an integrated approach to providing residential distributed solar energy where we fully control the lifecycle of our customers’ experience including the initial professional consultation, design and engineering process, installation, and ongoing monitoring and service. We deploy our sales force on a neighborhood-by-neighborhood basis, which allows us to cultivate a geographically concentrated customer base that reduces our costs and increases our operating efficiency. We couple this model with repeatable and scalable processes to establish warehouse facilities, assemble and train sales and installation teams and open new offices. We believe that our processes enable us to expand within existing markets and into new markets. We also believe that our direct sales model and integrated approach represent a differentiated platform, unique in the industry, that aids our growth by maximizing sales effectiveness, delivering high levels of customer satisfaction and driving cost efficiency.

From our inception in May 2011 through December 31, 2016, we have installed solar energy systems with an aggregate of 681.1 megawatts of capacity at approximately 99,600 homes in 14 states for an average solar energy system capacity of approximately 6.8 kilowatts. Of our 222.2 megawatts installed in 2016, approximately 94% were installed under long-term contracts and 6% were sold outright to customers.


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Our Approach

The key elements of our integrated approach to providing distributed solar energy include:

 

Professional consultation. We deploy our direct-to-home sales force to provide in-person professional consultations to prospective customers to evaluate the feasibility of installing a solar energy system at their residence. Our sales closing and referral rates are enhanced by homeowners’ responsiveness to our direct-to-home, neighborhood-by-neighborhood outreach strategy.

 

Design and engineering. We have developed a process that enables us to design and install a custom solar energy system that delivers customer savings. This process, which incorporates proprietary software, standardized templates and data derived from on-site surveys, allows us to design each system to comply with complex and varied state and local regulations and optimize system performance on a per panel basis. We continue to pursue technology innovation to integrate accurate system design into the initial in-person sales consultation as a competitive tool to enhance the customer experience and increase sales close rates.

 

Installation. We are a licensed contractor in the markets we serve and are responsible for each customer installation. Once we complete the system design, we obtain the necessary building permits and begin installation. Upon completion, we schedule the required inspections and arrange for interconnection to the power grid. By directly handling these logistics, we control quality and streamline the system installation process for our customers. Throughout this process, we apprise our customers of the project status with regular updates from our account representatives.

 

Monitoring and service. We monitor the performance of our solar energy systems, leveraging a combination of internally developed solutions as well as capabilities provided by our suppliers. Our systems use communication gateways and monitoring services to collect performance data and we use this data to ensure that we deliver quality operations and maintenance services for our solar energy systems. If services are required, our strong local presence enables rapid response times.

 

Referrals. We believe our commitment to delivering customer satisfaction and our concentrated geographic deployment strategy have generated sales through customer referrals, which increase our neighborhood penetration rates and drive our growth. Our financial returns also benefit from the cost savings derived from increasing the density of installations in a neighborhood.

Our Strategy

Our goal is to become the premier provider of distributed solar energy. Key elements of our strategy include:

 

Building the most sustainable business in the residential solar industry. We are working to enhance the sustainability of our business by striving to reduce our cost per watt over time, by pricing appropriately in each market and by growing in the right markets. We seek to balance our growth against the operating cash flows and project funding required to offset our operating expenses. We are focused on achieving attractive unit economics on our installations across our targeted markets.

 

Delighting our customers. We strive to provide a best-in-class customer experience. We offer customized solar energy solutions to each of our customers based on their individual needs, and we are streamlining the time from when a customer signs a contract to when their system is operational. We are also continuously working to improve our processes and customer communication in an effort to provide superior customer service. For example, we employ a detailed quality assessment process to our installations to validate that we maintain a high installation standard. We believe our direct-to-home sales model is a powerful distribution channel given the consultative nature of the solar sales process for most customers, and provides our sales professionals with the opportunity to have meaningful, face-to-face interactions with our customers.

 

Developing a differentiated solution. We aim to provide unique products in an increasingly commoditized industry, and we believe the market needs smart energy solutions that combine how energy is produced, made available and intelligently consumed. We believe we are uniquely positioned to offer customers a differentiated home solution by developing a partnership with Vivint to provide solar energy systems that will integrate with Vivint’s smart home systems to better deliver on the full smart home equation. We also continue to explore other partnerships to develop and provide distinctive solutions to our customers.


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Accessing capital on favorable terms. We partner with various investors to form investment funds that monetize the recurring customer payments under our long-term customer contracts, as well as the ITCs, accelerated tax depreciation and other incentives associated with residential solar energy systems. We have also entered into financing facilities to further monetize recurring cash flows and to fund solar energy system development. We plan to pursue additional debt, equity and other financing strategies in order to access capital on favorable terms to enable our continued growth.

 

Growing strategically. We operate in states whose utility prices, sun exposure, climate conditions and regulatory policies provide the most compelling market for distributed solar energy. We plan to enlarge our addressable market by expanding our presence to new states on a measured basis. In late 2015, we complemented our traditional long-term customer contracts by providing customers the option to purchase solar energy systems outright, which allows us to enter markets where customers prefer to own their solar energy systems or where our traditional long-term customer contracts are not permitted by local regulations or are not economically feasible. Additionally, in 2016, we became more selective in our policies to increase the incremental value of each installation by limiting the installation of smaller system sizes, limiting installations on certain roof types and raising prices in certain markets.

Customer Contracts

Our current product offering includes the following:

 

Power Purchase Agreements. Under power purchase agreements, or PPAs, we charge customers a fee per kilowatt hour based on the amount of electricity the solar energy system actually produces, which is billed monthly. PPAs typically have a term of 20 years and are subject to an annual price escalator of 2.9%. Over the term of the PPA, we operate the system and agree to maintain it in good condition. Customers who buy energy from us under PPAs are covered by our workmanship warranty equal to the length of the term of these agreements.

 

Legal-form Leases. Under legal-form leases, or Solar Leases, we charge customers a fixed monthly payment to lease the solar energy system, which is based on a calculation that takes into account expected solar energy generation. Solar Leases typically have a term of 20 years and contain an annual price escalator of 2.9%. We provide our Solar Lease customers a performance guarantee, under which we agree to refund payments to the customer if the solar energy system does not meet the guaranteed production level in the prior 12-month period. Liabilities for Solar Lease performance guarantees were de minimis as of December 31, 2016 and 2015. Over the term of the Solar Lease, we operate the system and agree to maintain it in good condition. Customers who buy energy from us under Solar Leases are covered by our workmanship warranty equal to the length of the term of these agreements.

 

Solar Energy System Sales. Under solar energy system sales, or System Sales, we offer our customers the option to purchase solar energy systems for cash or through third-party financing. The price for these contracts is determined as a function of the respective market rate and the size of the solar energy system to be installed. We agree to warranty and maintain the solar energy systems we sell to customers for a period of 10 years. Under certain loan products, customers can additionally contract with us for certain structural upgrades in connection with the installation of a solar energy system. System Sales are becoming an increasingly significant portion of our business and we believe they are advantageous to us as they provide immediate access to cash.

Of our 222.2 megawatts installed in 2016, approximately 84% were installed under PPAs, 10% were installed under Solar Leases and 6% were installed under System Sales. As of December 31, 2016, the average FICO score of our customers was approximately 760.

Sales and Marketing

We place our integrated residential solar energy systems through a scalable sales organization that primarily uses a direct-to-home sales model. We believe that a high-touch, customer-focused selling process is important before, during and after the sale of our products to maximize our sales success. The members of our sales force typically reside and work within the market they serve. We also generate a significant amount of sales through customer referrals. We have found that customer referrals increase in relation to our penetration in a market. Shortly after entering a new market, referrals become an increasingly effective way to market our solar energy systems.

In addition to direct sales, we sell to customers through our inside sales team. We also continue to explore opportunities to sell solar energy systems to customers through a number of other distribution channels, including relationships with real estate management companies, home builders, home improvement stores, large construction, electrical and roofing companies and other third parties that have access to large numbers of potential customers.

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 Operations

As of December 31, 2016, we operated in Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas and Utah. Our corporate headquarters are located in Utah. We manage inventory through our local warehouses and maintain a fleet of approximately 780 trucks and other vehicles to support our installers and operations. In 2016, our field teams completed on average approximately 2,600 residential installations per month. We manage thousands of projects as they move through the stages of engineering, permitting, installation, maintenance and monitoring.

We offer a range of warranties to our investment funds on our solar energy systems under long-term customer contracts. Under our workmanship warranty, we are obligated, at our cost and expense, to correct defects in our installation work, which depending on the particular investment fund, is for periods of five to twenty years. Generally, our maintenance obligations to our investment funds do not include the cost of panels, inverters or racking, should such major components require replacement. The cost of such components is borne instead by the applicable investment fund, although we are obligated to install such equipment as part of our services covered by the agreed maintenance services fee. We provide a pass-through of the inverter and panel manufacturers’ warranty coverage to our customers, which generally range from 10 to 25 years. We also provide ongoing service and repair during the entire term of the customer relationship, regardless of whether or not such repairs are covered by our or a manufacturer’s warranty. We expect the costs we incur in providing these services will continue to grow as the number of systems in our portfolio increases and as installed solar energy systems age.

Suppliers

We purchase solar panels directly from multiple manufacturers, which has helped to strengthen our diversification and purchasing leverage. Our inverter suppliers are more limited, and we have been working to establish relationships with additional suppliers. Substantially all of our solar panels and inverters are produced outside the United States. We generally source the other products related to our solar energy systems through a variety of suppliers and distributors.

If we fail to develop, maintain and expand our relationships with these or other suppliers, our ability to meet anticipated demand for our solar energy systems may be adversely affected, or we may only be able to offer our systems at higher costs or after delays. To reduce risk, we have added suppliers in the module, inverter and racking product groups. If one or more of the suppliers that we rely upon to meet anticipated demand ceases or reduces production due to its financial condition, acquisition by a competitor or otherwise, it may be difficult to quickly identify alternative suppliers or to qualify alternative products on commercially reasonable terms, and our ability to satisfy this demand may be adversely affected.

We screen all suppliers and components based on expected cost, reliability, warranty coverage, ease of installation and other ancillary costs. We typically enter into master contract arrangements with our major suppliers that define the general terms and conditions of our purchases, including warranties, product specifications, indemnities, licenses, delivery and other customary terms. We typically purchase solar panels, inverters and racking from our suppliers at then prevailing prices pursuant to purchase orders issued under our master contract arrangements.

The declining cost of solar panels and the raw materials necessary to manufacture them has been a key driver in the price we charge for electricity and customer adoption of solar energy. Although solar panel and raw material prices may continue to decline, it is possible they will not decline at the same rate as they have over the past several years or that they may increase. Although the solar panel market has seen an increase in supply, upward pressure on prices may occur due to growth in the solar industry, regulatory policy changes and the resulting increase in demand for solar panels and the raw materials necessary to manufacture them. In the past we have purchased virtually all of the solar panels used in our solar energy systems from manufacturers based in China. However, all of the solar panel manufacturers with which we do business have recently begun manufacturing solar panels outside of China in countries such as Vietnam, Malaysia, Korea and Thailand in order to avoid the current tariffs. We currently anticipate this trend will continue as solar panel manufacturers seek lower tariff countries.

Competition

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) and the ease by which customers can switch to electricity generated by our solar energy systems. We believe that we compete favorably with traditional utilities based on these factors in the states where we operate.

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 as well as with national and local solar companies such as Tesla’s SolarCity subsidiary and Sunrun Inc. These companies may offer products that are similar to our PPAs, Solar Leases and System Sales. We believe that we compete favorably with these companies.

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In addition, we compete with solar companies in the downstream value chain of solar energy. For example, we 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 increasingly from sophisticated electrical and roofing companies. These distributed energy competitors typically work in contractual arrangements with third parties, leaving the customer in the position of having to deal with different companies for different aspects of their solar energy systems. We believe that we compete favorably with these companies because we offer an integrated approach to residential solar energy systems, which includes in-house sales, financing, engineering, installation, maintenance and monitoring. Many of our competitors offer only a subset of the services we provide. Aside from simple cost efficiency, we offer distinct practical benefits as an all-in-one provider such as providing a single point of contact and accountability for our offerings during the relationship with our customers. Further, we are not dependent on installation subcontractors, enabling us to better scale our business while maintaining quality control.

Technology and Intellectual Property

As of December 31, 2016, we, directly or through our wholly owned subsidiary Solmetric Corporation, also known as Vivint Solar Labs, had five patents and seven pending applications with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. These patents and applications relate primarily to shade and site analysis. Our issued patents start expiring in 2026. We intend to file additional patent applications as we innovate through our research and development efforts. Vivint Solar Labs is our research and development team focused on technologies that we believe will benefit our business, as they have significant experience with photovoltaic hardware, installation instruments and software.

As part of our strategy, we may expand our technological capabilities through targeted acquisitions, licensing technology and intellectual property from third parties, joint development relationships with partners and suppliers and other strategic initiatives as we strive to offer the industry’s best operational efficiency, performance prediction, operations and management.

Government Regulation, Policies and Incentives

Government Regulation

We are not regulated as a public utility in the United States under current applicable national, state or other local regulatory regimes where we conduct business. We obtain interconnection permission from the applicable local primary electric utility to operate solar energy systems. Depending on the size of the solar energy system and local law requirements, interconnection permission is provided by the local utility and us and/or our customer. In most 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 procedures. We maintain a utility administration function, with primary responsibility for engaging with utilities and ensuring our compliance with interconnection rules.

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, or OSHA, the U.S. Department of Transportation, or DOT, and comparable state laws that protect and regulate employee health and safety. We strive to maintain compliance with applicable OSHA, DOT and similar government regulations; however, as discussed in the section captioned “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 monetary penalties, operational delays and adverse publicity,” there have been instances in which we experienced workplace accidents and received citations from regulators, resulting in fines. Such instances have not materially impacted our business or relations with our employees.

Government Policies

Net metering is one of several key policies that have enabled the growth of distributed solar in the United States. Net metering allows a homeowner to pay his or her local electric utility only for their power usage net of production from the solar energy system, transforming the conventional relationship between customers and traditional utilities. Homeowners receive credit for the energy that the solar energy system generates in excess of that consumed onsite to offset energy usage at times when the solar installation is not generating energy. In states that provide for net metering, the customer typically pays for the net energy used and receives a credit against future bills, typically within a 12-month period, at the retail rate if more energy is produced by the solar energy system than consumed onsite. In some states and utility territories, customers are also reimbursed by the electric utility for net excess generation, at the cost avoided rate, on a periodic basis. Forty-one states, Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, American Samoa and the U.S. Virgin Islands have adopted some form of net metering. Each of the states where we currently serve customers has adopted some form of a net metering policy.

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In recent years, net metering programs have been subject to regulatory scrutiny or legislative proposals in some states, such as Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York and Utah. Regulators in these states have considered imposing limits on the aggregate capacity of net metering generation, fees on net metering customers, reducing the rate that net metering customers are paid for the power that they deliver back to the grid and allegations that homeowners with net metered solar energy systems shift the costs of maintaining the electric grid onto non-solar ratepayers.

In California, for example, after the earlier of July 1, 2017 or the date the applicable investor owned utility reaches its net metering cap under the previous statute, customers will take service on a new net metering successor tariff. For this new tariff, which will apply to new customers after the applicable investor owned utility reaches its statutory net metering cap, the California Public Utilities Commission largely upheld net metering in its current form with full retail compensation for exports and rejected utility requests to impose extremely high fixed and capacity charges. The California Public Utilities Commission did allow the utilities to impose reasonable interconnection fees and some additional charges on customers, and will require such customers to take service on time-of-use rates. There will be no net metering caps under the new tariff. As reflected in reports for December 31, 2016, San Diego Gas and Electric Company, or SDG&E, and Pacific Gas and Electric Company, or PG&E, which are two large investor-owned utilities, have reached their net metering caps under the previous statute, and are currently allowing net metering systems to interconnect under the new successor tariff. A third large investor-owned utility, Southern California Edison Company, has approximately 24% capacity remaining under its net metering cap of 2,240 megawatts and is not expected to reach its net metering cap until July 1, 2017.

In October 2015, the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission issued an order closing the Hawaiian Electric Company’s net metering program to new participants and replaced this program with two new options for customers to interconnect to the utilities’ power grids, neither of which provides for compensation for exports at retail electricity rates. In late 2015, the Nevada Public Utilities Commission voted in favor of a plan which limited export compensation to net metering customers and imposed high monthly fees on such customers. Also, in December 2016, Arizona Corporation Commission decided to end traditional net metering and transition to a new distributed solar energy net metering compensation regime in which customers are paid for energy generated from solar energy systems located on their roofs pursuant to a resource comparison proxy methodology or avoided cost methodology. Each of these methodologies will yield a compensation rate that is less advantageous than was previously available to customers under the historical net metering regime, limited to a 10% step down in each utility’s rate annually. The Arizona Corporation Commission is also considering a settlement agreement between the Arizona Public Service Company and industry stakeholders under which demand charges based on a customer’s maximum average rate of energy consumed during a specified interval would be imposed on residential customers under certain rate schedules. Several other states also plan to revisit their net metering policies in the coming years, including New York, which is currently considering the compensation of customer-sited generation, and is expected to issue an order in early 2017.

As discussed in the section captioned “Risk Factors—We rely on net metering and related policies to offer competitive pricing to our customers in all of our current markets, and changes to net metering policies may significantly reduce demand for electricity from our solar energy systems,” the absence of favorable net metering policies or of net metering entirely, or the imposition of new charges that only or disproportionately impact customers that use net metering, would significantly limit customer demand for our solar energy systems and the electricity they generate and could adversely impact our business, results of operations and future growth.

Government Incentives

Federal, state and local government bodies and utilities provide for tariff structures and incentives to various parties, including owners, end users, distributors, system integrators and manufacturers of solar energy systems to promote solar energy. These incentives come in various forms, including rebates, tax credits and other financial incentives such as system performance payments, renewable energy credits associated with renewable energy generation, exclusion of solar energy systems from property tax assessments and net metering. We rely on these governmental and regulatory programs to finance solar energy system installations, which enables us to lower the price we charge our customers for energy from, and to lease or purchase, our solar energy systems, helping to catalyze customer acceptance of solar energy with those customers as an alternative to utility-provided power.

The Federal government currently offers a 30% ITC under Section 48(a) of the Internal Revenue Code for the installation of certain solar power facilities; legislation was passed in December 2015 which extended this 30% rate until December 31, 2019. By statute, the ITC is scheduled to decrease to 26% for 2020, 22% for 2021 and 10% of the fair market value of a solar energy system on January 1, 2022.

The economics of purchasing a solar energy system are also improved by eligibility for accelerated depreciation, also known as the modified accelerated cost recovery system, or MACRS, which allows for the depreciation of equipment according to an accelerated schedule established by the Internal Revenue Service. 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.

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Many of the states in which we operate offer a personal and/or corporate investment or production tax credit for solar energy that is additive to the ITC. Further, most of the states and local jurisdictions have established property tax incentives for renewable energy systems that include exemptions, exclusions, abatements and credits.

Many state governments, traditional utilities, municipal utilities and co-operative utilities offer a rebate or other cash incentive for the installation and operation of a solar energy system or energy efficiency measures. Capital costs or “up-front” rebates provide funds to solar customers or developers or system owners based on the cost, size or expected production of a customer’s solar energy system. Performance-based incentives provide cash payments to solar customers or a system owner based on the energy generated by the solar energy system during a pre-determined period.

Many states also have adopted procurement requirements for renewable energy production. Twenty-nine states, the District of Columbia and three U.S. territories have adopted a renewable portfolio standard that requires regulated utilities to procure a specified percentage of total electricity delivered to customers in the state from eligible renewable energy sources, such as solar energy systems, by a specified date. To prove compliance with such mandates, utilities usually must surrender solar renewable energy certificates, or 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.

Workforce

As of December 31, 2016, we had a total workforce of 3,001, including 1,140 employees in installation, 879 employees in operations, 255 employees in general and administrative, 86 employees in sales support and marketing and 25 employees in research and development. As of December 31, 2016, we also had 616 active direct sellers. We consider a direct sales person to be active if they completed at least four customer pre-surveys in the prior four weeks. Our operations personnel work primarily in installation, design and account management. Our general and administrative personnel work primarily in information technology, finance, human resources, legal and general management. None of our service providers are represented by a labor union and we consider relations with our workers to be good.

Item 1A. Risk Factors

You should carefully consider the following risk factors, together with all of the other information included in this report, including the section of this report captioned “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and our financial statements and related notes. If any of the following risks occurred, it could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition or operating results. This report also contains forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties. Our actual results could differ materially from those anticipated in the forward-looking statements as a result of factors that are described below and elsewhere in this report.

Risk Related to our Business

We need to enter into substantial additional financing arrangements to facilitate new customers’ access to our solar energy systems, and if financing is not available to us on acceptable terms when needed, our ability to continue to grow our business would be materially adversely impacted.

Our future success depends primarily on our ability to raise capital from third-party investors and commercial sources, such as banks and other lenders, on competitive terms to help finance the deployment of our solar energy systems. We seek to minimize our cost of capital in order to maintain the price competitiveness of the electricity produced by, the lease payments for and the cost of our solar energy systems. We rely on investment funds in order to provide solar energy systems with little to no upfront costs to our customers under our PPAs and Solar Leases. We also rely on access to capital to cover the costs of our solar energy systems that are sold outright until the systems are installed by us and then paid for by our customers, whether by cash or through third-party financing arrangements. If we are unable to establish new financing when needed, or upon desirable terms, to enable our customers’ access to our solar energy systems, we may be unable to finance installation of our customers’ systems, our cost of capital could increase or our liquidity could be constrained, any of which would have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects. As of February 28, 2017, we had raised 20 investment funds to which investors such as banks and other large financial investors have committed to invest approximately $1.3 billion, which will enable us to install solar energy systems of total fair market value approximating $3.3 billion. As of February 28, 2017, we had remaining residential tax equity commitments to fund approximately 80 megawatts of future deployments, which we estimate to be sufficient to fund solar energy systems with a total fair market value of approximately $310 million.


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The contract terms in certain of our investment fund documents impose conditions on our ability to draw on financing commitments from the fund investors, including if an event occurs that could reasonably be expected to have a material adverse effect on the fund or on us. If we do not satisfy such conditions due to events related to our business or a specific investment fund or developments in our industry or otherwise, and as a result we are unable to draw on existing commitments, our inability to draw on such commitments could have a material adverse effect on our business, liquidity, financial condition and prospects. In addition to our inability to draw on the investors commitments, we may incur financial penalties for non-performance, including delays in the installation process and interconnection to the power grid of solar energy systems and other factors. Based on the terms of the investment fund agreements, we will either reimburse a portion of the fund investor’s capital or pay the fund investor a non-performance fee. For example, during the year ended December 31, 2016, we paid contractually agreed upon capital distributions of $2.7 million to reimburse fund investors a portion of their capital contributions primarily due to a delay in solar energy systems being interconnected to the power grid and other factors.

To meet the capital needs of our growing business, we will need to obtain additional financing from new investors and investors with whom we currently have arrangements. If any of the financial institutions that currently provide financing decide not to invest in the future due to general market conditions, concerns about our business or prospects or any other reason, or decide to invest at levels that are inadequate to support our anticipated needs or materially change the terms under which they are willing to provide future financing, we will need to identify new financial institutions and companies to provide financing and negotiate new financing terms. If we are unable to raise additional capital in a timely manner, our ability to meet our capital needs and fund future growth may be limited.

In the past, we have sometimes been unable to timely establish investment funds in accordance with our plans, due in part to the relatively limited number of investors attracted to such types of funds, competition for such capital and the complexity associated with negotiating the agreements with respect to such funds. Delays in raising financing could cause us to delay expanding in existing markets or entering into new markets and hiring additional personnel in support of our planned growth. Any future delays in capital raising could similarly cause us to delay deployment of a substantial number of solar energy systems for which we have signed PPAs or Solar Leases with customers. Our future ability to obtain additional financing depends on banks’ and other financing sources’ continued confidence in our business model and the renewable energy industry as a whole. It could also be impacted by the liquidity needs of such financing sources themselves. We face intense competition from a variety of other companies, technologies and financing structures for such limited investment capital. 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 to us on terms that are less favorable than those received by our competitors. For example, if we experience higher customer default rates than we currently experience in our existing investment funds, this could make it more difficult or costly to attract future financing. In our experience, there are a relatively small number of investors that generate sufficient profits and possess the requisite financial sophistication that can benefit from and have significant demand for the tax benefits that our investment funds can provide. Historically, in the distributed solar energy industry, investors have typically been large financial institutions and a few large, profitable corporations. Our ability to raise investment funds is limited by the relatively small number of such investors. Any inability to secure financing could lead us to cancel planned installations, could impair our ability to accept new customers and could increase our borrowing costs, any of which would have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.

A material reduction in the retail price of traditional utility-generated electricity or electricity from other sources or other reduction in the cost of such electricity would harm our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.

We believe that a significant number of our customers decide to buy solar energy because they want to pay less for electricity than what is offered by the traditional utilities. However, distributed residential solar energy has yet to achieve broad market adoption.

The customer’s decision to choose solar energy may also be affected by the cost of other renewable energy sources. Decreases in the retail prices of electricity from the traditional utilities or from other renewable energy sources would harm our ability to offer competitive pricing and could harm our business. The cost of electricity from traditional utilities could decrease as a result of:

 

construction of new power generation plants, including plants utilizing natural gas, nuclear, coal, renewable energy or other generation technologies;

 

the construction of additional electric transmission and distribution lines;

 

relief of transmission constraints that enable local centers to generate energy less expensively;

 

reductions in the price of natural gas or other fuel sources;

 

utility rate adjustment and customer class cost reallocation;

 

energy conservation technologies and public initiatives to reduce electricity consumption;


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widespread deployment of existing or development of new or lower-cost energy storage technologies that have the ability to reduce a customer’s average cost of electricity by shifting load to off-peak times;

 

reduced regulations by federal or state regulatory bodies that lower the cost of generating and transmitting electricity or otherwise reduce regulatory compliance costs; and

 

development of new energy generation technologies that provide less expensive energy.

A reduction in utility electricity costs would make PPAs or Solar Leases less economically attractive. If the cost of energy available from traditional utilities were to decrease due to any of these reasons, or other reasons, we would be at a competitive disadvantage, we may be unable to attract new customers and our growth would be limited. In addition, in the third quarter of 2016, we increased pricing in certain markets which may negatively impact our competitiveness.

Electric utility industry policies and regulations may present technical, regulatory and economic barriers to the purchase and use of solar energy systems that may significantly reduce demand for electricity from our solar energy systems.

Federal, state and local government regulations and policies concerning the electric utility industry, utility rate structures, interconnection procedures, and internal policies of electric utilities, heavily influence the market for electricity generation products and services. These regulations and policies often relate to electricity pricing and the interconnection of distributed electricity generation systems to the power grid. Policies and regulations that promote renewable energy and customer-sited energy generation have been challenged by traditional utilities and questioned by those in government and others arguing for less governmental spending and involvement in the energy market. In addition, it is unclear what, if any, actions the new presidential administration in the United States may take regarding existing regulations and policies that place limitations on coal and gas electric generations, mining and exploration. Changes in such policies and regulations could increase the cost or decrease the benefits of solar energy systems, or reduce costs and other limitations on competing forms of generation, and adversely affect our results of operations, cost of capital and growth prospects.

In the United States, governments and the state public service commissions that determine utility rates continuously modify these regulations and policies. These regulations and policies could result in a significant reduction in the potential demand for electricity from our solar energy systems and could deter customers from entering into contracts with us. In addition, depending on the region, electricity generated by solar energy systems competes most effectively with the most expensive retail rates for electricity from the power grid, rather than the less expensive average price of electricity. Modifications to the utilities’ peak hour pricing policies or rate design, such as to a flat rate, would make our current products less competitive with the price of electricity from the power grid. For example, the California Public Utilities Commission recently issued a decision that will transition residential rates over the next four years from a four-tiered structure to a two-tiered structure, with only a 25% differential between the two rates and a surcharge for very high energy users. It is possible that this change could have the effect of lowering the incentive for residential customers of California’s large investor-owned utilities to reduce their purchases of electricity from their utility by supplying more of their own electricity from solar, and thereby reduce demand for our products. In addition, California is in the process of shifting to a time-of-use rate structure in the coming year. A shift in the timing of peak rates for utility-generated electricity to a time of day when solar energy generation is less efficient or nonexistent could make our solar energy system offerings less competitive and reduce demand for our offerings. The California Public Utilities Commission determined in January of 2016 that net metering customers taking service on the net energy metering (NEM) successor tariff will be required to take service on time-of-use rates. This transition occurred in 2016 for some of our potential customers and will be occurring for all investor-owned utilities by July 1, 2017. Numerous other states also use time-of-use rates. In addition, since we are required to obtain interconnection permission for each solar energy system from the local utility, changes in a local utility’s regulations, policies or interconnection process have in the past delayed and in the future could delay or prevent the completion of our solar energy systems. This in turn has delayed and in the future could delay or prevent us from generating revenues from such solar energy systems or cause us to redeploy solar energy systems, adversely impacting our results of operations.


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In addition, any changes to government or internal utility regulations and policies that favor electric utilities could reduce our competitiveness and cause a significant reduction in demand for our offerings or increase our costs or the prices we charge our customers. Certain jurisdictions have proposed allowing traditional utilities to assess fees on customers purchasing energy from solar energy systems or have imposed or proposed new charges or rate structures that would disproportionately impact solar energy system customers who utilize net metering, either of which would increase the cost of energy to those customers and could reduce demand for our solar energy systems. For example, the California Public Utilities Commission issued a decision in July 2015 that allowed utilities to impose a minimum $10 monthly bill for residential customers, approved the concept of fixed charges and will permit the utilities to propose such fixed charges again in 2018. A decision issued in January 2016 will allow new interconnection fees and additional non-by-passable charges to be assessed on customers taking service on California’s net metering successor tariff. This will result in monthly charges being imposed on our customers in California. Additionally, certain utilities in Arizona have approved increased rates and charges for net metering customers, and others have proposed doing away with the state’s renewable electricity standard carve-outs for distributed generation as well as the state’s net metering program. The Arizona Corporation Commission is also considering a settlement agreement between the Arizona Public Service Company and industry stakeholders under which demand charges based on a customer’s maximum average rate of energy consumed during a specified interval would be imposed on residential customers under certain rate schedules. These policy changes may negatively impact our customers and affect demand for our solar energy systems, and similar changes to net metering policies may occur in other states. It is also possible that these or other changes could be imposed on our current customers, as well as future customers. Due to the current and expected continued concentration of our solar energy systems in California, any such changes in this market would be particularly harmful to our reputation, customer relations, business, results of operations and future growth in these areas. We may be similarly adversely affected if our business becomes concentrated in other jurisdictions.

Our business currently depends on the availability of rebates, tax credits and other financial incentives. The expiration, elimination or reduction of these rebates, credits or incentives could adversely impact our business.

Federal, state and local government and regulatory bodies provide for tariff structures and incentives to various parties including owners, end users, distributors, system integrators and manufacturers of solar energy systems to promote solar energy in various forms, including rebates, tax credits and other financial incentives such as system performance payments, renewable energy credits associated with renewable energy generation, exclusion of solar energy systems from property tax assessments and net metering. We rely on these governmental and regulatory programs to finance solar energy system installations, which enables us to lower the price we charge customers for energy from, and to lease or purchase, our solar energy systems, helping to catalyze customer acceptance of solar energy with those customers as an alternative to utility-provided power. However, these programs may expire on a particular date, end when the allocated funding or capacity allocations are exhausted or be reduced or terminated. These reductions or terminations often occur without warning. For example, the Arizona Department of Revenue has attempted to assess and collect property taxes in the past on rooftop solar energy systems such as ours and counties in Arizona may attempt to assess and collect property taxes in the future. In addition, the financial value of certain incentives decreases over time. For example, the value of solar renewable energy certificates, or SRECs, in a market tends to decrease over time as the supply of SREC-producing solar energy systems installed in that market increases. If we overestimate the future value of these incentives, it could adversely impact our financial results.

The federal government currently offers a 30% ITC under Section 48(a) of the Internal Revenue Code for the installation of certain solar power facilities; the 30% rate continues until December 31, 2019. By statute, the ITC is scheduled to decrease to 26% for 2020, 22% for 2021 and 10% of the fair market value of a solar energy system on January 1, 2022, and the amounts that fund investors are willing to invest could decrease or we may be required to provide a larger allocation of customer payments to the fund investors as a result of this scheduled decrease. To the extent we have a reduced ability to raise investment funds as a result of this reduction, the rate of growth of installations of our residential solar energy systems could be negatively impacted. In addition, future changes to taxation of business entities and the deductibility of interest expense could affect the amount that fund investors are willing to invest, which could reduce our access to capital. The ITC has been a significant driver of the financing supporting the adoption of residential solar energy systems in the United States and its scheduled reduction beginning in 2020, unless modified by an intervening change in law, will significantly impact the attractiveness of solar energy to these investors and could potentially harm our business.

Applicable authorities may adjust or decrease incentives from time to time or include provisions for minimum domestic content requirements or other requirements to qualify for these incentives. Reductions in, eliminations or expirations of or additional application requirements for, governmental incentives could adversely impact our results of operations and ability to compete in our industry by increasing our cost of capital, causing us to increase the prices of our energy and solar energy systems and reducing the size of our addressable market. In addition, this would adversely impact our ability to attract investment partners and to form new investment funds and our ability to offer attractive financing to prospective customers.


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We rely on net metering and related policies to offer competitive pricing to our customers in all of our current markets, and changes to net metering policies may significantly reduce demand for electricity from our solar energy systems.

Our business benefits significantly from favorable net metering policies in states in which we operate. Net metering allows a homeowner to pay his or her local electric utility only for their power usage net of production from the solar energy system, transforming the conventional relationship between customers and traditional utilities. Homeowners receive credit for the energy that the solar installation generates in excess of that needed by the home to offset energy usage at times when the solar installation is not generating energy. In states that provide for net metering, the customer typically pays for the net energy used or receives a credit against future bills at the retail rate if more energy is produced by the solar installation than consumed. In some states and utility territories, customers are also reimbursed by the electric utility for net excess generation on a periodic basis.

Forty-one states, Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, American Samoa and the U.S. Virgin Islands have adopted some form of net metering. Each of the states where we currently serve customers has adopted some form of a net metering policy.

In recent years, net metering programs have been subject to regulatory scrutiny and legislative proposals in some states, such as Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York and Utah. In California, for example, after the earlier of July 1, 2017 or the date the applicable investor owned utility reaches its statutory net metering cap, customers will take service on a new net metering successor tariff. For this new tariff, which will apply to new customers after the applicable investor owned utility reaches its statutory net metering cap, the California Public Utilities Commission largely upheld net metering in its current form with full retail compensation for exports and rejected utility requests to impose extremely high fixed and capacity charges. The California Public Utilities Commission did allow the utilities to impose reasonable interconnection fees and some additional charges on customers, and will require such customers to take service on time-of-use rates. There are no caps under the new NEM successor tariff. As reflected in reports for December 31, 2016, San Diego Gas and Electric Company, or SDG&E, and Pacific Gas and Electric Company, or PG&E, which are two large investor-owned utilities, have reached their net metering caps, and are currently allowing net metering systems to interconnect under the NEM successor tariff. A third large investor-owned utility, Southern California Edison Company, has approximately 24% capacity remaining under its net metering cap of 2,240 megawatts and is not expected to reach its net metering cap until July 1, 2017. Further, municipal utilities are generally not subject to the same state laws and public commission oversight as compared to investor owned utilities and may make drastic and abrupt changes. As we continue to expand into areas with municipal utilities, we may be subject to greater risk of regulatory uncertainty.

On October 12, 2015, the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission issued an order closing the Hawaiian Electric Company’s net metering program to new participants and replaced this program with two new options for customers to interconnect to the utilities’ power grids, neither of which provides for compensation for exports at retail electricity rates. In addition, in late 2015, the Nevada Public Utilities Commission voted in favor of a plan that limited export compensation to net metering customers and imposed high monthly fees on such customers.

Additionally, in December 2016, the Arizona Corporation Commission decided to end traditional net metering and transition to a new distributed solar energy net metering compensation regime in which customers are paid for energy generated from solar energy systems located on their roofs pursuant to a resource comparison proxy methodology or avoided cost methodology. Each of these methodologies will yield a compensation rate that is less advantageous than was previously available to customers under the historical net metering regime, limited to a 10% step down in each utility’s rate annually. The Arizona Corporation Commission is also considering a settlement agreement between the Arizona Public Service Company and industry stakeholders under which demand charges based on a customer’s maximum average rate of energy consumed during a specified interval would be imposed on residential customers under certain rate schedules. These changes reduce the value proposition for residential solar in Arizona as compared to residential solar under the traditional net metering regime.

Several other states plan to revisit their net metering policies in the coming years, including New York, which is currently considering the compensation of customer-sited generation, and is expected to issue an order in early 2017.

If and when net metering caps in certain jurisdictions are reached while they are still in effect, the value of the credit that customers receive for net metering is significantly reduced, utility rate structures are altered, or fees are imposed on net metering customers, future customers may be unable to recognize the same level of cost savings associated with net metering that current customers enjoy. The absence of favorable net metering policies or of net metering entirely, or the imposition of new charges that only or disproportionately impact customers that use net metering would significantly limit customer demand for our solar energy systems and the electricity they generate and could adversely impact our business, results of operations and future growth. For example, shortly after expanding our operations into Nevada, the state’s primary electric utility reached its net metering cap. As a result of the net metering cap being reached, we suspended operations in Nevada pending revisions to the net metering available in the state. This change is not expected to have any future impact on our business due to the short duration that we were active in Nevada.

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Failure of anticipated growth in System Sales to materialize as planned could negatively impact our operating results and cash flows.

Beginning in late 2015, we began offering to customers in select markets the option to purchase solar energy systems as System Sales. We have historically offered our solar energy systems through our PPAs or Solar Leases. System Sales allow us to enter markets, such as those that prohibit third-party ownership of distributed solar energy systems or that lack a favorable net metering policy. While System Sales have represented a relatively small portion of our business, we expect it to continue to grow. Industry analysts have indicated that the number of customer-owned solar energy systems has increased significantly relative to third-party ownership in certain markets and that solar energy system sales are expected to account for a larger percentage of total residential solar installations in the future. Continued increases in the variety and availability of third-party loan financing products and outright solar energy system purchases could further facilitate this growth. It is not certain that we will successfully execute our strategy to increase sales of solar energy systems. If customer preferences or the residential solar energy market continue to shift toward solar energy system sales, and we are not successful in our efforts, we may lose market share which could have an adverse effect on our business, operating results and growth prospects. Additionally, sales of solar energy systems through third-party loans or cash sales require less financing from financial institutions and participants in the tax equity market. To the extent we are unsuccessful in our efforts to sell solar energy systems, or to work with third parties to finance those systems for our customers, our operating cash flows would be negatively affected and our business and growth prospects would be adversely affected.

Technical and regulatory limitations may significantly reduce our ability to sell electricity from our solar energy systems and retain employees in certain markets.

Technical and regulatory limits may curb our growth in certain key markets, which may also reduce our ability to retain employees in those markets. For example, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, in promulgating the first form small generator interconnection procedures, recommended limiting customer-sited intermittent generation resources, such as our solar energy systems, to a certain percentage of peak load on a given electrical feeder circuit. Similar limits have been adopted by many states as a de facto standard and could constrain our ability to market to customers in certain geographic areas where the concentration of solar installations exceeds this limit. For example, Hawaiian electric utilities have adopted certain policies that limit distributed electricity generation in parts of their service territories. In the first half of 2014, Hawaii was the second largest market in which we operated as measured by total installations. However, despite legislative and regulatory actions to allow further distributed electricity penetration, these limitations constrained growth of distributed residential solar energy in Hawaii in the second half of 2014 and beyond, and Hawaii has become a less important market to us as a result. While a recent Hawaii Public Utilities Commission order seeks to streamline the interconnection process, and while our growth in other markets has more than offset the impact of these limitations in Hawaii, if we experienced similar or other limitations on the deployment of solar energy systems, our business, operating results and growth prospects could be materially adversely affected. Furthermore, in certain areas, we benefit from policies that allow for expedited or simplified procedures related to connecting solar energy systems to the power grid. If such procedures are changed or cease to be available, our ability to sell the electricity generated by solar energy systems we install may be adversely impacted. As adoption of solar distributed generation rises along with the commercial operation of utility scale solar generation in key markets such as California, the amount of solar energy being fed into the power grid will surpass the amount planned for relative to the amount of aggregate demand. Some traditional utilities claim that in less than five years, solar generation resources may reach a level capable of producing an over-generation situation, which may require some solar generation resources to be curtailed to maintain operation of the power grid. While the prospect of such curtailment is somewhat speculative, particularly in the residential sector, the adverse effects of such curtailment without compensation could adversely impact our business, results of operations and future growth.

We have incurred operating losses and may be unable to achieve or sustain profitability in the future.

We have incurred operating losses since our inception. We incurred net losses of $242.5 million and $253.3 million for the years ended December 31, 2016 and 2015. We expect to continue to incur net losses from operations as we finance our operations, expand our installation, engineering, administrative, sales and marketing staffs, and implement internal systems and infrastructure to support our growth. Failure to grow at a sufficient rate to support these investments in personnel, systems and infrastructure, have adversely impacted and in the future could adversely impact our business and results of operations. Our ability to achieve profitability depends on a number of factors, including:

 

growing our customer base;

 

finding investors willing to invest in our investment funds;

 

maintaining and further lowering our cost of capital;

 

reducing the time between system installation and interconnection to the power grid, which allows us to begin generating revenue;

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reducing the cost of components for our solar energy systems; and

 

reducing our operating costs by optimizing our sales, design and installation processes and supply chain logistics.

Even if we do achieve profitability, we may be unable to sustain or increase our profitability in the future.

The vast majority of our business is conducted primarily using one channel, direct-selling.

Historically, our primary sales channel has been a direct sales model. We also sell to customers through our inside sales team but continue to find greatest success using our direct sales channel. We compete against companies with experience selling solar energy systems to customers through a number of distribution channels, including homebuilders, home improvement stores, large construction, electrical and roofing companies and other third parties and companies that access customers through relationships with third parties in addition to other direct-selling companies. Our less diversified distribution channels may place us at a disadvantage with consumers who prefer to purchase products through these other distribution channels. We are also vulnerable to changes in laws related to direct sales and marketing that could impose additional limitations on unsolicited residential sales calls and may impose additional restrictions. If additional laws affecting direct sales and marketing are passed in the markets in which we operate, it would take time to train our sales force 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 or are not successful in developing other sales channels, our financial condition, results of operations and growth prospects could be adversely affected.

We are highly dependent on our ability to attract, train and retain an effective sales force.

The success of our direct-selling channel efforts depends upon the recruitment, retention and motivation of a large number of sales personnel to compensate for a high turnover rate among sales personnel, which is a common characteristic of a direct-selling business. In order to grow our business, we need to recruit, train and retain sales personnel on a continuing basis. Sales personnel are attracted to direct-selling by competitive earnings opportunities and direct-sellers typically compete for sales personnel by providing a more competitive earnings opportunity than that offered by the competition. Competitors devote substantial effort to determining the effectiveness of such incentives so that they can invest in incentives that are the most cost effective or produce the best return on incentive. For example, we have historically compensated our sales personnel on a commission basis, based on the size of the solar energy systems they sell. Some sales personnel may prefer a compensation structure that also includes a salary and equity incentive component. There is significant competition for sales talent in our industry, and from time to time we may need to adjust our compensation model to include such components. These adjustments could adversely impact our operating results and financial performance.

In addition to our sales compensation model, our ability to recruit, train and retain effective sales personnel could be harmed by additional factors, including:

 

any adverse publicity regarding us, our solar energy systems, our distribution channel or our industry;

 

lack of interest in, or the technical failure of, our solar energy systems;

 

lack of a compelling product or income opportunity that generates interest for potential new sales personnel, or perception that other product or income opportunities are more attractive;

 

any negative public perception of our sales personnel and direct-selling businesses in general;

 

any regulatory actions or charges against us or others in our industry;

 

general economic and business conditions; and

 

potential saturation or maturity levels in a given market which could negatively impact our ability to attract and retain sales personnel in such market.

We are subject to significant competition for the recruitment of sales personnel from other direct-selling companies and from other companies that sell solar energy systems in particular. Regional and district managers of our sales personnel are instrumental in recruiting, retaining and motivating our sales personnel. When managers have elected to leave us and join other companies, the sales personnel they supervise have often left with them. We may experience increased attrition in our sales personnel in the future which may impact our results of operations and growth. The impact of such attrition could be particularly acute in those jurisdictions, such as California, where contractual non-competition agreements for service providers are not enforceable or subject to significant limitations.

It is therefore continually necessary to innovate and enhance our direct-selling and service model as well as to recruit and retain new sales personnel. If we are unable to do so, our business will be adversely affected.

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We are not currently regulated as an electric utility under applicable law, but we may be subject to regulation as an electric utility in the future.

We are not regulated as a public utility in any of the markets in which we currently operate. As a result, we are not subject to the various federal, state and local standards, restrictions and regulatory requirements applicable to traditional utilities that operate transmission and distribution systems and that have an obligation to serve electric customers within a specified jurisdiction. Any federal, state, or local regulations that cause us to be treated as an electric utility, or to otherwise be subject to a similar regulatory regime of commission-approved operating tariffs, rate limitations, and related mandatory provisions, could place significant restrictions on our ability to operate our business and execute our business plan by prohibiting, restricting or otherwise regulating our sale of electricity. If we were subject to the same state or federal regulatory authorities as electric utilities in the United States or if new regulatory bodies were established to oversee our business in the United States, then our operating costs would materially increase.

Our business depends in part on the regulatory treatment of third-party owned solar energy systems.

Retail sales of electricity by non-utilities such as us face regulatory hurdles in some states and jurisdictions, including states and jurisdictions that we intend to enter where the laws and regulatory policies have not historically embraced competition to the service provided by the incumbent, vertically integrated electric utility. Some of the principal challenges pertain to whether non-customer owned systems qualify for the same levels of rebates or other non-tax incentives available for customer-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. Furthermore, in some states and utility territories third parties are limited in the way that they may deliver solar to their customers. In jurisdictions such as Arizona, South Carolina, Utah and Los Angeles, California, laws have been interpreted to either prohibit the sale of electricity pursuant to our standard PPA or regulate entities making such sales, in some cases, such laws have led residential solar energy system providers to use leases in lieu of power purchase agreements. In other states, neither leases nor power purchase agreements are permissible or commercially feasible. Changes in law, reductions in, eliminations of or additional application requirements for, these benefits could reduce demand for our systems, adversely impact our access to capital and could cause us to increase the price we charge our customers for energy.

If the Internal Revenue Service or the U.S. Treasury Department makes a determination that the fair market value of our solar energy systems is materially lower than what we have reported in our fund tax returns, we may have to pay significant amounts to our investment funds, to our fund investors and/or the U.S. government. Such determinations could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and prospects.

We report in our fund tax returns and we and our fund investors claim the ITC based on the fair market value of our solar energy systems. Scrutiny by the Internal Revenue Service, or IRS, with respect to fair market value determinations has increased industry-wide in recent years. The IRS recently commenced an audit of one of our investment funds. We are not aware of any other audits or results of audits related to our appraisals or fair market value determinations of any of our investment funds. If as part of an examination the IRS were to review the fair market value that we used to establish our basis for claiming ITCs and determine that the ITCs previously claimed should be reduced, we would owe certain of our investment funds or our fund investors an amount equal to 30% of the investor’s share of the difference between the fair market value used to establish our basis for claiming ITCs and the adjusted fair market value determined by the IRS, plus any costs and expenses associated with a challenge to that fair market value, plus a gross up to pay for additional taxes. We could also be subject to tax liabilities, including interest and penalties, based on our share of claimed ITCs. To date, we have not been required to make such payments under any of our investment funds.

Our ability to provide solar energy systems to customers on an economically viable basis depends on our ability to finance these systems with fund investors who require particular tax and other benefits.

Substantially all of our solar energy systems installed to date have been eligible for ITCs as well as accelerated depreciation benefits. We have relied on, and will continue to rely on, financing structures that monetize a substantial portion of those benefits and provide financing for our solar energy systems. If, for any reason, we were unable to continue to monetize those benefits through these arrangements, we may be unable to provide solar energy systems for new customers and maintain solar energy systems for new and existing customers on an economically viable basis. The availability of this tax-advantaged financing depends upon many factors, including:

 

our ability to compete with other renewable energy companies for the limited number of potential investment 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

 

non-renewal of these incentives or decreases in the associated benefits.

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Solar energy system owners are currently allowed to claim the ITC that is equal to 30% of the system’s eligible tax basis, which is generally the fair market value of the system. By statute, the ITC is scheduled to decrease to 26% for 2020, 22% for 2021 and 10% on January 1, 2022. Moreover, potential fund investors must remain satisfied that the structures we offer qualify for the tax benefits associated with solar energy systems available to these investors, which depends both on the investors’ assessment of tax law and the absence of any unfavorable interpretations of that law. Changes in existing law and interpretations by the IRS and the courts could reduce the willingness of fund investors to invest in funds associated with these solar energy system investments. It is not certain that this type of financing will continue to be available to us. Alternatively, new investment fund structures or other financing mechanisms may become available, and if we are unable to take advantage of these fund structures and financing mechanisms it may place us at a competitive disadvantage. If, for any reason, we are unable to finance solar energy systems through tax-advantaged structures or if we are unable to realize or monetize depreciation benefits, or if we are otherwise unable to structure investment funds in ways that are both attractive to investors and allow us to provide desirable pricing to customers, we may no longer be able to provide solar energy systems to new customers on an economically viable basis. This would have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.

Rising interest rates could adversely impact our business.

Rising interest rates could have an adverse impact on our business by increasing our cost of capital. The majority of our cash flows to date have been from customer contracts that have been partially monetized under various investment fund structures. One of the components of this monetization is the present value of the payment streams from the customers who enter into these contracts. If the rate of return required by the fund investor rises as a result of a rise in interest rates, the present value of the customer payment stream and the total value that we are able to derive from monetizing the payment stream will each be reduced. Interest rates are at low levels. It is likely that interest rates will continue to rise in the future, which would cause our costs of capital to increase.

Our investment funds contain arrangements which provide for priority distributions to fund investors until they receive their targeted rates of return. In addition, under the terms of certain of our investment funds, we may be required to make payments to the fund investors if certain tax benefits that are allocated to such fund investors are not realized as expected. Our financial condition may be adversely impacted if a fund is required to make these priority distributions for a longer period than anticipated to achieve the fund investors’ targeted rates of return or if we are required to make any tax-related payments.

Our investment funds contain terms that contractually require the investment funds to make priority distributions to the fund investor, to the extent cash is available, until it achieves its targeted rate of return. The amounts of potential future distributions under these arrangements depends on the amounts and timing of receipt of cash flows into the investment fund, almost all of which is generated from customer payments related to solar energy systems that have been previously purchased (or leased, as applicable) by such fund. If such cash flows are lower than expected, the priority distributions to the investor may continue for longer than initially anticipated. Additionally, certain of our investment funds require that, under certain circumstances, we forego distributions from the fund that we are otherwise contractually entitled to, or make capital contributions to the fund, so that such distributions owed to us, or additional capital contributions made by us, can be redirected to the fund investor such that it achieves the targeted return. For example, during the year ended December 31, 2016, we paid contractually agreed upon capital distributions of $2.7 million to reimburse fund investors a portion of their capital contributions primarily due to a delay in solar energy systems being interconnected to the power grid and other factors.

Our fund investors also expect returns partially in the form of tax benefits and, to enable such returns, our investment funds contain terms that contractually require us to make payments to the funds that are then used to make payments to the fund investor in certain circumstances so that the fund investor receives value equivalent to the tax benefits it expected to receive when entering into the transaction. The amounts of potential tax payments under these arrangements depend on the tax benefits that accrue to such investors from the funds’ activities.

Due to uncertainties associated with estimating the timing and amounts of these cash distributions and allocations of tax benefits to such investors, we cannot determine the potential maximum future impact on our cash flows or payments that we could have to make under these arrangements. We may agree to similar terms in the future if market conditions require it. Any significant payments that we may be required to make or distributions to us that are reduced or diverted as a result of these arrangements could adversely affect our financial condition.


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We may incur substantially more debt or take other actions that could restrict our ability to pursue our business strategies.

Since September 2014, we have entered into five debt facilities through which we have incurred $771.9 million aggregate principal amount of outstanding borrowings and had up to $238.0 million of unused borrowing capacity remaining as of December 31, 2016. These debt facilities restrict our ability to dispose of assets, incur indebtedness, incur liens, pay dividends or make other distributions to holders of our capital stock, repurchase our capital stock, make specified investments or engage in transactions with our affiliates. In addition, we do not have full access to the cash and cash equivalents held in our investments funds until distributed per the terms of the arrangements. We and our subsidiaries may incur substantial additional debt in the future and any debt instrument we enter into in the future may contain similar, or more onerous, restrictions. These restrictions could inhibit our ability to pursue our business strategies. Additionally, our ability to make scheduled payments depends on our operating performance, which is subject to economic, financial, competitive and other factors that may be beyond our control. Furthermore, if we default on one of our debt instruments, and such event of default is not cured or waived, the lenders could terminate commitments to lend and cause all amounts outstanding with respect to the debt to be due and payable immediately, which in turn could result in cross acceleration under other debt instruments. Our assets and cash flow may not be sufficient to fully repay borrowings under all of our outstanding debt instruments if some or all of these instruments are accelerated upon a default.

Furthermore, there is no assurance that we will be able to enter into new debt instruments on acceptable terms. If we are unable to satisfy financial covenants and other terms under existing or new instruments or obtain waivers or forbearance from our lenders or if we are 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.

Our business is concentrated in certain markets, putting us at risk of region specific disruptions.

As of December 31, 2016, approximately 39% of our cumulative installations and 28% of our total sales offices were located in California. In addition, we expect future growth to occur 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 California and in other markets that may become similarly concentrated.

Residential solar energy is an evolving market, which makes it difficult to evaluate our prospects.

The residential solar energy industry is constantly evolving, which makes it difficult to evaluate our prospects. We cannot be certain if historical growth rates reflect future opportunities or whether growth anticipated by us or industry analysts will be realized. Any future growth of the residential solar energy market and the success of our solar energy systems depend on many factors beyond our control, including recognition and acceptance of the residential solar energy 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 energy systems cost-effectively. If the markets for residential solar energy do not develop at the rate we expect, our business may be adversely affected.

Additionally, due to our limited operating history, we do not have empirical evidence of the effect of our systems on the resale value of our customers’ houses. Due to the length of our customer contracts, the system deployed on a customer’s roof may be outdated prior to the expiration of the term of the customer contract reducing the likelihood of renewal of our contracts at the end of the 20-year term, and possibly increasing the occurrence of defaults. This could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flow. As a result, our limited operating history may impair our ability to accurately forecast our future performance and to invest accordingly.

We have previously identified a material weakness in our internal control over financial reporting relating to inadequate review procedures in connection with the preparation of our consolidated financial statements that resulted in the restatement of certain of our financial statements, and we may identify material weaknesses in the future.

We previously reported a material weakness in internal control over financial reporting for the years ended December 31, 2015 and 2014 associated with the HLBV method of attributing net income or loss to non-controlling interests and redeemable non-controlling interests and with our financial statement close process. A material weakness is a deficiency, or a combination of deficiencies, in internal control over financial reporting such that there is a reasonable possibility that a material misstatement of our annual or interim financial statements will not be prevented or detected on a timely basis.


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As discussed in “Item 9A—Controls and Procedures,” we took a number of measures to remediate the material weakness described above, and based on these measures, management has tested the internal control activities and found them to be effective and has concluded that the material weakness described above has been remediated as of December 31, 2016. However, if in future periods we identify other material weaknesses in internal control over financial reporting, we will be unable to assert that our internal control over financial reporting is effective, which could result in the loss of investor confidence. In addition, to date, the audit of our consolidated financial statements by our independent registered public accounting firm has included a consideration of internal control over financial reporting as a basis of designing their audit procedures, but not for the purpose of expressing an opinion on the effectiveness of our internal controls over financial reporting. When we cease to be an emerging growth company we will be required to have our independent registered accounting firm perform such an evaluation, and additional material weaknesses or other control deficiencies may be identified.

If we are unable to avoid or remediate any future material weakness, our stock price may be adversely affected and we may be unable to maintain compliance with applicable stock exchange listing requirements.

We face competition from traditional regulated electric utilities, from less-regulated third party energy service providers, other solar companies and from new renewable energy companies.

The solar energy and renewable energy industries are both highly competitive and continually evolving as participants strive to distinguish themselves within their markets and compete with large traditional utilities. We believe that our primary competitors are the traditional utilities that supply electricity to our potential customers. Traditional utilities generally have substantially greater financial, technical, operational and other resources than we do. As a result, these competitors 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. Traditional utilities could also offer other value-added products or services that could help them to compete with us even if the cost of electricity they offer is higher than ours. In addition, a majority of utilities’ sources of electricity is non-solar, which may allow utilities to sell electricity more cheaply than 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. These energy service companies are able to offer customers electricity supply-only solutions that are competitive with our solar energy system options on both price and usage of renewable 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 new customers, particularly those who wish to avoid long-term contracts or have an aesthetic or other objection to putting solar panels on their roofs.

We also compete with solar companies with business models that are similar to ours. 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. In addition, as System Sales are becoming a more significant part of our business, we face increasing competition from other national and local solar energy companies who sell solar energy systems. We believe the solar industry is becoming increasingly commoditized, and if we are unable to offer differentiated products, establish or maintain a consumer brand that resonates with homeowners or compete with the pricing offered by our competitors, our sales and market share position may be adversely affected.

In addition, we compete with solar companies in the downstream value chain of solar energy. For example, we 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 increasingly from sophisticated electrical and roofing companies. Some of these competitors specialize in the residential solar energy market, and some may provide energy at lower costs than we do. Additionally, some of our competitors may offer their products through sales channels that they have more fully developed, such as retail sales. Further, some of our competitors are integrating vertically in order to ensure supply and to control costs. Many of our competitors also have significant brand name recognition and have extensive knowledge of our target markets. For us to remain competitive, we must distinguish ourselves from our competitors by offering an integrated approach that successfully competes with each level of products and services offered by our competitors at various points in the value chain. If our competitors develop an integrated approach similar to ours including sales, financing, engineering, manufacturing, installation, maintenance and monitoring services, this will reduce our marketplace differentiation.

As the solar industry grows and evolves, we will also face new competitors who are not currently in the market. Our industry is characterized by low technological barriers to entry and well-capitalized companies could choose to enter the market and compete with us. Our failure to adapt to changing market conditions and to compete successfully with existing or new competitors will limit our growth and will have a material adverse effect on our business and prospects.

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Developments in alternative technologies or improvements in distributed solar energy generation may materially adversely affect demand for our offerings.

Significant developments in alternative technologies, such as advances in other forms of distributed solar power generation, storage solutions such as batteries, the widespread use or adoption of fuel cells for residential or commercial properties or improvements in other forms of centralized power production may materially and adversely affect our business and prospects in ways we do not currently anticipate. Any failure by us to adopt new or enhanced technologies or processes, or to react to changes in existing technologies, could materially delay deployment of our solar energy systems, which could result in product obsolescence, the loss of competitiveness of our systems, decreased revenue and a loss of market share to competitors.

A failure to hire and retain a sufficient number of employees in key functions would constrain our growth and our ability to timely complete our customers’ projects.

To support our growth, we need to hire, train, deploy, manage and retain a substantial number of skilled installers and electricians in the relevant markets where there is heightened or increasing demand for solar energy products. Competition for qualified personnel in our industry has increased substantially and we expect it to continue to do so, particularly for skilled electricians and other personnel involved in the installation of solar energy systems. We also compete with the homebuilding and construction industries for skilled labor. As these industries seek to hire additional workers, our cost of labor may increase. Companies with whom we compete to hire installers may offer compensation or incentive plans that certain installers may view as more favorable. We periodically assess the compensation plans and policies for our service providers, including our installers and electricians, and, if deemed necessary, may decide to revise those plans and policies. Our installers and electricians may not react well to any such revisions, which in turn could adversely affect retention, motivation and productivity. Additionally, we continually monitor our workforce requirements in the markets in which we operate. Any workforce reductions in markets where sales volume does not support the number of installation and other personnel could in turn adversely affect retention, motivation and productivity.

Furthermore, trained installers are typically able to more efficiently install solar energy systems. Shortages of skilled labor could significantly delay installations or otherwise increase our costs. While we do not currently have any unionized employees, we have expanded, and may continue to expand, into areas such as the Northeast, where labor unions are more prevalent. The unionization of our labor force could also increase our labor costs. In addition, a significant portion of our business has been concentrated in states such as California, where market conditions are particularly favorable to distributed solar energy generation. We have experienced and may in the future experience greater than expected turnover in our installers in those jurisdictions which would adversely impact the geographic mix of new solar energy system installations.

Because we are a licensed electrical contractor in every jurisdiction in which we operate, we are required to employ licensed electricians. As we expand into new markets, we are required to hire and/or contract with seasoned licensed electricians in order for us to qualify for the requisite state and local licenses. Because of the high demand for these seasoned licensed electricians, these individuals currently or in the future may demand greater compensation. In addition, our inability to attract and retain these qualifying electricians may adversely impact our ability to continue operations in current markets or expand into new areas.

If we cannot meet our hiring, retention and efficiency goals, we may be unable to complete our customers’ projects on time, 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.

We act as the licensed general contractor for our customers and are subject to risks associated with construction, cost overruns, delays, 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 every market we service and we are responsible for every customer installation. We are the general contractor, electrician, construction manager and installer for all our solar energy systems. We may be liable to customers for any damage we cause to their home, belongings or property during the installation of our systems. For example, we penetrate our customers’ roofs during the installation process and may incur liability for the failure to adequately weatherproof such penetrations following the completion of installation of solar energy systems. In addition, because the solar energy systems we deploy are high-voltage energy systems, we may incur liability for the failure to comply with electrical standards and manufacturer recommendations. Furthermore, prior to obtaining permission to operate our solar energy systems, the systems must pass various inspections. Any delay in passing, or inability to pass, such inspections, would adversely affect our results of operations. 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 results or cover our costs for that project.

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In addition, the installation of solar energy systems is 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 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 authority having jurisdiction over our operations and our solar energy systems. Any new government regulations or utility policies pertaining to our systems, or changes to existing 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 systems.

We depend on a limited number of suppliers of solar energy system components and technologies to adequately meet anticipated demand for our solar energy systems. Due to the limited number of suppliers in our industry, the acquisition of any of these suppliers by a competitor or any shortage, delay, price change, imposition of tariffs or duties or other limitation in our ability to obtain components or technologies we use could result in sales and installation delays, cancellations and loss of market share.

We purchase solar panels, inverters and other system components from a limited number of suppliers, making us susceptible to quality issues, shortages and price changes. In 2016 and 2015, Trina Solar Limited, Yingli Green Energy Americas, Inc. and JinkoSolar Holding Co., Ltd. accounted for a substantial majority of our solar photovoltaic module purchases and Enphase Energy, Inc. and SolarEdge Technologies Inc. accounted for substantially all of our inverter purchases. If we fail to develop, maintain and expand our relationships with these or other suppliers, our ability to adequately meet anticipated demand for our solar energy systems may be adversely affected, 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 rely upon to meet anticipated demand ceases or reduces production due to its financial condition, acquisition by a competitor or otherwise, is unable to increase production as industry demand increases or is otherwise unable to allocate sufficient production to us, it may be difficult to quickly identify alternative suppliers or to qualify alternative products on commercially reasonable terms, and our ability to satisfy this demand may be adversely affected. There are a limited number of suppliers of solar energy system components and technologies. While we believe there are other sources of supply for these products available, transitioning to a new supplier may result in additional costs and delays in acquiring our solar products and deploying our systems, and may require us to obtain the approval of our financing partners in order to utilize new products. These issues could harm our business or financial performance.

There have also been periods of industry-wide shortages of key components, including solar panels, in times of rapid industry growth. 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. The solar industry is growing and, as a result, shortages of key components, including solar panels, may be more likely to occur, which in turn may result in price increases for such components. Even if industry-wide shortages do not occur, suppliers may decide to allocate key components with high demand or insufficient production capacity to more profitable customers, customers with long-term supply agreements or customers other than us and our supply of such components may be reduced as a result.

We have entered into multi-year agreements with certain of our major suppliers. These agreements are denominated in U.S. dollars. Since our revenue is also generated in U.S. dollars we are mostly insulated from currency fluctuations. However, since our suppliers often incur a significant amount of their costs by purchasing raw materials and generating operating expenses in foreign currencies, if the value of the U.S. dollar depreciates significantly or for a prolonged period of time against these other currencies this may cause our suppliers to raise the prices they charge us, which could harm our financial results. Since we purchase almost all of the solar photovoltaic modules we use from China, we are particularly exposed to exchange rate risk from increases in the value of the Chinese Renminbi. In addition, the U.S. government has imposed tariffs on solar cells produced and assembled in China and Taiwan, and it is unclear what actions the new U.S. presidential administration may take with respect to existing and proposed trade agreements, or restrictions on trade generally. The existing tariffs, and any new tariffs, duties or other restraints, or shortages, delays, price changes or other limitation in our ability to obtain components or technologies we use could limit our growth, cause cancellations or adversely affect our profitability, and result in loss of market share and damage to our brand.


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Our operating results may fluctuate from quarter to quarter and year to year, which could make our future performance difficult to predict and could cause our operating results for a particular period to fall below expectations, resulting in a severe decline in the price of our common stock.

Our quarterly and annual operating results are difficult to predict and may fluctuate significantly in the future. We have experienced seasonal and quarterly fluctuations in the past. However, given that we are in a growing industry, the true extent of these fluctuations may have been masked by our historical growth rates and thus may not be readily apparent from our historical operating results and may be difficult to predict. For example, the amount of revenue we recognize in a given period from our customer contracts is dependent in part on the amount of energy generated by solar energy systems under such contracts. As a result, revenue derived from PPAs is impacted by seasonally shorter daylight hours in winter months. In addition, our ability to install solar energy systems is impacted by weather, such as during the winter months in the Northeastern United States. Such delays can impact the timing of when we can install and begin to generate revenue from solar energy systems. As such, our past quarterly operating results may not be good indicators of future performance.

In addition to the other risks described in this “Risk Factors” section, the following factors could cause our operating results to fluctuate:

 

the expiration or initiation of any rebates or incentives;

 

significant fluctuations in customer demand for our offerings;

 

our ability to complete installations and interconnect to the power grid in a timely manner;

 

the availability and costs of suitable financing;

 

the amount and timing of sales of SRECs;

 

our ability to continue to expand our operations, and the amount and timing of expenditures related to this expansion;

 

actual or anticipated changes in our growth rate relative to our competitors;

 

announcements by us or our competitors of 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 traditional utilities; and

 

actual or anticipated developments in our competitors’ businesses or the competitive landscape.

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, key operating metrics and other operating results in future periods may fall short of the expectations of investors and financial analysts, which could have an adverse effect on the trading price of our common stock.

Our business has benefited from the declining cost of solar panels, and our financial results may be harmed if the cost of solar panels increases in the future.

The declining cost of solar panels and the raw materials necessary to manufacture them has been a key driver in the price we charge for electricity and customer adoption of solar energy. Although industry experts indicate that solar panel and raw material prices will continue to decline, it is possible they will not decline at the same rate as they have over the past several years. In addition, while the solar panel market has recently seen an increase in supply, growth in the solar industry and the resulting increase in demand for solar panels and the raw materials necessary to manufacture them may put upward pressure on prices. These resulting prices could slow our growth and cause our financial results to suffer. In addition, in the past we have purchased virtually all of the solar panels used in our solar energy systems from manufacturers based in China which have benefited from favorable governmental policies by the Chinese government. If this governmental support were to decrease or be eliminated, our ability to purchase these products on competitive terms or to access specialized technologies from China could be restricted.


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Even if this support from the Chinese government were to continue, the U.S. government could impose additional tariffs on solar cells manufactured in China or other restraints on trade with China. In 2014, the U.S. government broadened its investigation of Chinese pricing practices in this area to include solar panels and modules produced in China containing solar cells manufactured in other countries. In July 2015, the U.S. government announced antidumping duties ranging from 9.67% to 238.95% on imports of the majority of solar panels made in China, and, in December 2014, rates ranging from 11.5% to 27.6% on imported solar cells made in Taiwan. Countervailing duties ranging from 15.43% to 49.8% for Chinese modules have also been announced, and in July 2015 were set at 20.94% for most Chinese modules. In January 2015, the antidumping duties were confirmed by a determination of the U.S. International Trade Commission that material harm to the U.S. solar industry had occurred. These combined tariffs would make such solar cells less competitively priced in the United States, and the Chinese and Taiwanese manufacturers may choose to limit the amount of solar equipment they sell into the United States. As a result, it may be easier for solar cell manufacturers located outside of China or Taiwan to increase the prices of the solar cells they sell into the United States. If we are required to pay higher prices, accept less favorable terms or purchase solar panels or other system components from alternative, higher-priced sources, our financial results will be adversely affected.

The profitability and residual value of our solar energy systems during and at the end of the associated term of the PPA or Solar Lease may be lower than projected today and adversely affect our financial performance and valuation.

We maintain ownership of the solar energy systems that we install under our PPAs or Solar Leases. We amortize the costs of our solar energy systems over a 30-year estimated useful life, which exceeds the period of the component warranties and the corresponding payment streams from our contracts with our customers. If we incur repair and maintenance costs on these systems after the warranties have expired, and if they then fail or malfunction, we will be liable for the expense of repairing these systems without a chance of recovery from our suppliers. We are also contractually obligated to remove, store and reinstall the solar energy systems, typically for a nominal fee, if customers need to replace or repair their roofs. However, customer fees may not cover our costs to remove, store and reinstall the solar energy systems. In addition, we typically bear the cost of removing the solar energy systems at the end of the term of the customer contract if the customer does not renew his or her contract at the end of its term. 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. We also face other factors that could increase the costs or diminish the production of a solar energy system, such as unanticipated damage or malfunctions, animal interference and weather-related matters. If the residual value of the systems is less than we expect at the end of the customer contract, after giving effect to any associated removal and redeployment costs, we may be required to accelerate all or some of the remaining unamortized costs. If the profitability or the residual value of the systems is lower than expected, this could materially impair our future operating results and estimated retained value.

Compliance with occupational safety and health requirements and best practices can be costly, and noncompliance with such requirements may result in potentially significant monetary penalties, operational delays and adverse publicity.

The installation of solar energy systems requires our employees to work at heights with complicated and potentially dangerous electrical systems and at potentially high temperatures. The evaluation and modification of buildings as part of the installation process requires our employees to work in locations that may contain potentially dangerous levels of asbestos, lead, mold or other materials known or believed to be hazardous to human health. We also maintain a fleet of approximately 780 trucks and other vehicles to support our installers and operations. There is substantial risk of serious 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, or OSHA, the U.S. Department of Transportation, or DOT, and equivalent state laws. Changes to OSHA, DOT or state 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 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. While we have not experienced a high level of injuries to date, we could be exposed to increased liability in the future. In the past, we have had workplace accidents and received citations from OSHA regulators for alleged safety violations, resulting in fines. Any such accidents, citations, violations, 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.


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Problems with product quality or performance may cause us to incur expenses, may lower the residual value of our solar energy systems and may damage our market reputation and adversely affect our financial results.

We agree to maintain the solar energy systems installed on our customers’ homes in connection with a PPA or Solar Lease during the length of the term of our customer contracts, which is typically 20 years. We also agree to warranty and maintain the solar energy systems we sell to customers for a period of 10 years. We are exposed to any liabilities arising from the systems’ failure to operate properly and are generally under an obligation to ensure that each system remains in good condition during the term of the agreement. As part of our operations and maintenance work, we provide a pass-through of the inverter and panel manufacturers’ warranty coverage to our customers, which generally range from 10 to 25 years. One or more of these third-party manufacturers could cease operations and no longer honor these warranties, leaving us to fulfill these potential obligations to our customers or to our fund investors without underlying warranty coverage. We, either ourselves or through our investment funds, bear the cost of such major equipment. Even if the investment fund bears the direct expense of such replacement equipment, we could suffer financial losses associated with a loss of production from the solar energy systems.

Beginning in 2014, we began structuring some customer contracts as solar energy system leases. To be competitive in the market and to comply with the requirements of jurisdictions where we offer leases, our solar energy system leases contain a performance guarantee in favor of the lessee. Leases with performance guarantees require us to refund money to the lessee if the solar energy system fails to generate a stated minimum amount of electricity in a 12-month period. We may also suffer financial losses associated with such refunds if significant performance guarantee payments are triggered.

Our failure to accurately predict future liabilities related to material quality or performance expenses could result in unexpected volatility in our financial condition. Because of the limited operating history of our solar energy systems, compared to their long estimated useful life, 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. We have made these assumptions based on the historic performance of similar systems or on accelerated life cycle testing. 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 performance guarantees. Equipment defects, serial defects or operational deficiencies also would reduce our revenue from customer contracts because the customer payments under such agreements are dependent on system production or would require us to make refunds under performance guarantees. Any widespread product failures or operating deficiencies may damage our market reputation and adversely impact our financial results.

We are responsible for providing maintenance, repair and billing on solar energy systems that are owned or leased by our investment funds on a fixed fee basis, and our financial performance could be adversely affected if our cost of providing such services is higher than we project.

We typically provide a workmanship warranty for periods of five to 20 years to our investment funds for every system we sell to them. We are also generally contractually obligated to cover the cost of maintenance, repair and billing on any solar energy systems that we sell or lease to our investment funds. We are subject to a maintenance services agreement under which we are required to operate and maintain the system, and perform customer billing services for a fixed fee that is calculated to cover our future expected maintenance and servicing costs of the solar energy systems in each investment fund over the term of the PPA or Solar Lease with the covered customers. 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, a majority of which are located in California, are damaged in the event of a natural disaster beyond our control, such as an earthquake, tsunami or hurricane, losses could be outside the scope of insurance policies or exceed 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. When required to do so under the terms of a particular investment fund, we purchase property and business interruption insurance with industry standard coverage and limits approved by the investor’s third-party insurance advisors to hedge against such risk, but such coverage may not cover our losses, and we have not acquired such coverage for all of our funds.


23


 

Product liability claims against us or accidents could result in adverse publicity and potentially significant monetary damages.

If one of our solar energy systems injured someone, we could be exposed to product liability claims. In addition, it is possible that our products could injure our customer or third parties, or that our products could cause property damage as a result of product malfunctions, defects, improper installation, fire or other causes. We rely on our general liability insurance to cover product liability claims. 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, penalties or fines, increase our insurance rates, 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 new customers, thus affecting our growth and financial performance.

Failure by our component suppliers to use ethical business practices and comply with applicable laws and regulations may adversely affect our business.

We do not control our suppliers or their business practices. Accordingly, we cannot guarantee that they follow ethical business practices such as fair wage practices and compliance with environmental, safety and other local laws. A lack of demonstrated compliance could lead us to seek alternative suppliers, which could increase our costs and result in delayed delivery of our products, product shortages or other disruptions of our operations. Violation of labor or other laws by our suppliers or the divergence of a supplier’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.

Damage to our brand and reputation, or change or loss of use of our brand, could harm our business and results of operations.

We depend significantly on our reputation for high-quality products, best-in-class customer service and the brand name “Vivint Solar” to attract new customers and grow our business. If we fail to continue to deliver our solar energy systems within the planned timelines, if our offerings do not perform as anticipated or if we damage any of our customers’ properties or delay or cancel projects, our brand and reputation could be significantly impaired. Future technical improvements may allow us to offer lower prices or offer new technology to new customers; however, technical limitations in our current solar energy systems may prevent us from offering such lower prices or new technology to our existing customers. The inability of our current customers to benefit from technological improvements could cause our existing customers to lower the value they perceive our existing products offer and impair our brand and reputation.

We have focused particular attention on growing our direct sales force, leading us in some instances to take on candidates who we later determined did not meet our standards. In addition, given our direct sales business model and the sheer number of interactions our sales and other personnel have with customers and potential customers, it is inevitable that some customers’ and potential customers’ interactions with our company will be perceived as less than satisfactory. This has led to instances of customer complaints, some of which have affected our digital footprint on rating websites such as Yelp and SolarReviews. If we cannot manage our hiring and training processes to avoid or minimize these issues to the extent possible, our reputation may be harmed and our ability to attract new customers would suffer.

Given our relationship with our sister company Vivint and the similarity in our names, customers may associate us with any problems experienced with Vivint, such as complaints with the Better Business Bureau. Because we have no control over Vivint, we may not be able to take remedial action to cure any issues Vivint has with its customers, and our brand and reputation may be harmed if we are mistaken for the same company.

In addition, if we were to no longer use, lose the right to continue to use, or if others use, the “Vivint Solar” brand, we could lose recognition in the marketplace among customers, suppliers and partners, which could affect our growth and financial performance, and would require financial and other investment, and management attention in new branding, which may not be as successful.


24


 

Marketplace confidence in our liquidity and long-term business prospects is important for building and maintaining our business.

Our financial condition, operating results and business prospects may suffer materially if we are unable to establish and maintain confidence about our liquidity and business prospects among consumers and within our industry. Our solar energy systems require ongoing maintenance and support. If we were to reduce operations, even years from now, buyers of our systems from years earlier might have difficulty in having us repair or service our systems, which remain our responsibility under the terms of our customer contracts. As a result, consumers may be less likely to purchase our solar energy systems now if they are uncertain that our business will succeed or that our operations will continue for many years. Similarly, suppliers and other third parties will be less likely to invest time and resources in developing business relationships with us if they are not convinced that our business will succeed. Accordingly, in order to build and maintain our business, we must maintain confidence among customers, suppliers and other parties in our liquidity and long-term business prospects. We may not succeed in our efforts to build this confidence.

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 growth in recent periods with the cumulative capacity of our solar energy systems growing from 458.9 megawatts as of December 31, 2015 to 681.1 megawatts as of December 31, 2016, 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 place, a significant strain on our management, operational and financial infrastructure. For example, we recently entered or expanded our offerings in California, Connecticut, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Texas. Our management will also be required to maintain and expand our relationships with customers, suppliers and other third parties and attract new customers, suppliers and financing, as well as manage multiple geographic locations.

In addition, our current and planned operations, personnel, IT and other systems and procedures might be inadequate to support our future growth and may require us to make additional unanticipated investments in our infrastructure. 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 meet our or industry analysts’ expectations regarding growth, opportunity and financial targets, take advantage of market opportunities, execute our business strategies, meet our investment fund commitments or respond to competitive pressures. This could also result in declines in quality or customer satisfaction, increased costs, difficulties in introducing new offerings or other operational difficulties. Any failure to effectively manage growth could adversely impact our business and reputation.

Expansion into new markets could be costly and time-consuming. Historically, we have only provided our offerings to residential customers, which could put us at a disadvantage relative to companies who also compete in other markets.

We have historically only provided our offerings to residential customers. We compete with companies who sell solar energy systems in the commercial, industrial and government markets, in addition to the residential market. While we believe that in the future we could have opportunities to expand our operations into other markets, there are no assurances that our design and installation systems will work for non-residential customers or that we will be able to compete successfully with companies with historical presences in such markets or we may not realize the anticipated benefits of entering such markets, and entering new markets has numerous risks, including the following:

 

incurring significant costs if we are required to adapt our current or develop new design and installation processes for use in non-residential applications;

 

diversion of our management and employees from our core residential business;

 

difficulty adapting our current or developing new marketing strategies and sales channels to non-residential customers;

 

inability to obtain key customers, brand recognition and market share and compete successfully with companies with historical presences in such markets; and

 

inability to achieve the financial and strategic goals for such market.

If we choose to pursue opportunities in additional markets and are unable to successfully compete in such markets, our operating results and growth prospects could be materially adversely affected. Additionally, there is intense competition in the residential solar energy market in the markets in which we operate. As new entrants continue to enter into these markets, we may be unable to gain or maintain market share and we may be unable to compete with companies that earn revenue in both the residential market and non-residential markets.

25


 

SunEdison’s failure to complete the acquisition, and its subsequent bankruptcy filing, has affected and may in the future, materially and adversely affect our results of operations and stock price.

On July 20, 2015, we entered into an Agreement and Plan of Merger, or Merger Agreement, as amended by the Amendment to the Agreement and Plan of Merger, dated as of December 9, 2015, with SunEdison, Inc., or SunEdison, a Delaware corporation, and SEV Merger Sub Inc., a Delaware corporation and a wholly owned subsidiary of SunEdison, pursuant to which we were to have been acquired by SunEdison.

We delivered notice to SunEdison on February 26, 2016, and again on March 1, 2016, that, pursuant to the terms of the Merger Agreement, SunEdison was required to cause the closing of the acquisition to occur on February 26, 2016, and remained obligated to cause the closing to occur.

SunEdison’s failure to cause the closing to occur was a breach of its covenants under the Merger Agreement. SunEdison’s representatives subsequently informed us that SunEdison was unable to cause the closing to occur in the foreseeable future.

As a result of the foregoing and in accordance with and pursuant to our rights under the Merger Agreement, we terminated the Merger Agreement on March 7, 2016. On March 8, 2016, we filed suit in the Court of Chancery State of Delaware against SunEdison and SEV Merger Sub Inc. alleging that SunEdison willfully breached its obligations under the Merger Agreement. Due to SunEdison’s bankruptcy filing on April 21, 2016, and the bankruptcy court’s subsequent denial of our motion for relief from the automatic stay, our claim for damages for breach of the Merger Agreement is likely to be resolved by the bankruptcy court. While we believe that SunEdison willfully breached its obligations under the Merger Agreement and that our claims have merit and are likely to succeed, the outcomes of lawsuits are inherently unpredictable, and we may be unsuccessful in our claims. Moreover, due to the nature of bankruptcy proceedings, it is likely that the SunEdison bankruptcy estate will have insufficient assets to fully satisfy our claim, even if the claim is determined to be meritorious.

SunEdison’s failure to close the acquisition presents other significant risks to us. In response to the announcement of the acquisition, and due to uncertainty regarding the closing of the acquisition, our existing or prospective customers or suppliers have or may have:

 

delayed, deferred and may cease purchasing products or services from or providing products or services to us;

 

delayed or deferred other decisions concerning us; or

 

otherwise sought to change the terms on which they do business with us.

Additionally, due to these uncertainties and to SunEdison’s required approvals, we ceased certain employee actions during the pendency of the merger, such as hiring, terminating and reallocating personnel. During this time, our employees and our management teams reallocated significant time to integration efforts. We deferred transitions to key IT systems as a standalone company. We were also caused to defer and delay financing options, including acquiring additional investment funds and debt facilities, which has decreased our operational efficiency and effectiveness. Further, SunEdison withheld approval of PPA enhancements as a leverage tool, which further decreased our effectiveness in attracting and obtaining prospective customers. These delays and uncertainties disrupted our business and may have adversely impacted our results of operations as we continue to operate as a standalone company.


26


 

We may not realize the anticipated benefits of past or future acquisitions, and integration of these acquisitions may disrupt our business and management.

We acquired Solmetric Corporation in January 2014 and in the future we may acquire additional companies, project pipelines, products or technologies or enter into joint ventures or other strategic initiatives. We may not realize the anticipated benefits of this acquisition or any other future acquisition, and any acquisition has numerous risks. These risks include the following:

 

difficulty in assimilating the operations and personnel of the acquired company;

 

difficulty in effectively integrating the acquired technologies or products with our current 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 operating results;

 

potential failure of the due diligence processes to identify significant issues with product quality, intellectual property infringement and other 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.

Mergers and acquisitions of companies are inherently risky, and if we do not complete the integration of acquired businesses successfully and in a timely manner, we may not realize the anticipated benefits of the acquisitions to the extent anticipated, which could adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations.

The loss of one or more members of our senior management or key employees may adversely affect our ability to implement our strategy.

We are highly dependent on the efforts and abilities of the principal members of our senior management team, and the loss of one or more key executives could have a negative impact on our business. In May 2016, our board of directors accepted the resignation of Greg Butterfield as our chief executive officer and president and appointed David Bywater as interim chief executive officer. Mr. Bywater was subsequently named our permanent chief executive officer in December 2016. No assurances can be made about the impact that this management change or other recent management changes will have on our company.

We also depend on our ability to retain and motivate key employees and attract qualified new employees. No assurances can be made about the effect our recent management change will have on employee morale, or our ability to retain key employees. None of our key executives are bound by employment agreements for any specific term and we do not maintain key person life insurance policies on any of our executive officers. In the year ended December 31, 2015, one-third of the outstanding options to purchase shares of our common stock granted to our key executives and other employees under our 2013 Omnibus Incentive Plan vested. In addition, one-third of the options remained outstanding and will vest annually over three years, or immediately if 313 Acquisition LLC receives a return on its invested capital at a pre-established threshold. As a result, the retention incentives associated with these options could lapse for all employees holding these options under our 2013 Omnibus Incentive Plan at the same time. This decrease in retention incentive could cause significant turnover after these options vest. We may be unable to replace key members of our management team and key employees if we lose their services. Integrating new employees into our 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, results of operations and prospects.

27


 

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.

As a public company, we are subject to the reporting requirements of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, or the Exchange Act, the listing requirements of the New York Stock Exchange, or NYSE, 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 operating results and maintain effective disclosure controls and procedures and internal control over financial reporting. To maintain and improve our disclosure controls and procedures and internal control over financial reporting to meet this standard, significant resources and management oversight are required. As a result, management’s attention may be diverted from other business concerns which could harm our business and operating results. If in the future, we or our independent registered public accounting firm identify deficiencies in our internal control over financial reporting that are deemed to be material weaknesses, the market price of our stock could decline and we could be subject to sanctions or investigations by the Securities and Exchange Commission, or the SEC, or other regulatory authorities, which would require additional financial and management resources.

Being a public company has also made it more expensive for us to obtain director and officer liability insurance, and in the future, we may be required to accept reduced coverage or incur substantially higher costs to continue coverage. These factors could also make it more difficult for us to attract and retain qualified executive officers and members of our board of directors, particularly to serve on our audit committee and compensation committee.

We may be subject to intellectual property rights claims by third parties, which are extremely costly to defend, could require us to pay significant damages and could limit our ability to use certain technologies.

Third parties, including our competitors, may own patents or other intellectual property rights that cover aspects of our technology or business methods. Such parties may claim we have misappropriated, misused, violated or infringed third party intellectual property rights, and, if we gain greater recognition in the market, we face a higher risk of being the subject of claims that we have violated others’ intellectual property rights. Any claim that we violate a third party’s intellectual property rights, whether with or without merit, could be time-consuming, expensive to settle or litigate and could divert our management’s attention and other resources. If we do not successfully settle or defend an intellectual property claim, we could be liable for significant monetary damages and could be prohibited from continuing to use certain technology, business methods, content or brands. To avoid a prohibition, we could seek a license from third parties, which could require us to pay significant royalties, increasing our operating expenses. If a license is not available at all or not available on reasonable terms, we may be required to develop or license a non-violating alternative, either of which could require significant effort and expense. If we cannot license or develop a non-violating alternative, we would be forced to limit or stop sales of our offerings and may be unable to effectively compete. Any of these results would adversely affect our business, results of operations, financial condition and cash flows. To deter other companies from making intellectual property claims against us or to gain leverage in settlement negotiations, we may be forced to significantly increase the size of our intellectual property portfolio through internal efforts and acquisitions from third parties, both of which could require significant expenditures. However, a robust intellectual property portfolio may provide little or no deterrence, particularly for patent holding companies or other patent owners that have no relevant product revenues.


28


 

We use “open source” software in our solutions, which may restrict how we distribute our offerings, 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 currently use in our solutions, and expect to continue to use in the future, 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. We do not plan to integrate our proprietary software with open source software in ways that would require the release of the source code of our proprietary software to the public, however, our use and distribution 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 or remove the source code of our proprietary software to the public. 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 remove the software. 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 sale of our offerings if re-engineering could not 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 commercialize our offerings. We cannot guarantee that we have incorporated 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.

The installation and operation of solar energy systems depends heavily on suitable solar and meteorological conditions. If meteorological conditions are unexpectedly unfavorable, the electricity production from our solar energy systems may be substantially below our expectations and our ability to timely deploy new systems may be adversely impacted.

The energy produced and revenue and cash receipts generated by a solar energy system depend on suitable solar, atmospheric and weather conditions, all of which are beyond our control. Furthermore, components of our systems, such as panels and inverters, could be damaged by severe weather, such as hailstorms or lightning. Although we maintain insurance to cover for many such casualty events, our investment funds would be obligated to bear the expense of repairing the damaged solar energy systems, sometimes subject to limitations based on our ability to successfully make warranty claims. Our economic model and projected returns on our systems require us to achieve certain production results from our systems and, in some cases, we guarantee these results for both our consumers and our investors. If the systems underperform for any reason, our financial results could suffer. Sustained unfavorable weather also could delay our installation of solar energy systems, leading to increased expenses and decreased revenue and cash receipts in the relevant periods. We have experienced seasonal fluctuations in our operations. For example, the amount of revenue we recognize in a given period from PPAs is dependent in part on the amount of energy generated by solar energy systems under such contracts. As a result, operating leases and incentives revenue is impacted by seasonally shorter daylight hours in winter months. In addition, our ability to install solar energy systems is impacted by weather. For example, we have limited ability to install solar energy systems during the winter months in the Northeastern United States. Such delays can impact the timing of when we can install and begin to generate revenue from solar energy systems. However, given that we are in a growing industry, the true extent of these fluctuations may have been masked by our historical growth rates and thus may not be readily apparent from our historical operating results and may be difficult to predict. As such, our historical operating results may not be indicative of future performance. Furthermore, weather patterns could change, making it harder to predict the average annual amount of sunlight striking each location where we install a solar energy system. This could make our solar energy systems less economical overall or make individual systems less economical. Any of these events or conditions could harm our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.


29


 

Disruptions to our solar monitoring systems could negatively impact the operation of our business and our revenues and increase our expenses.

Our ability to accurately charge our customers for the energy produced by our solar energy systems depends on our ability to monitor our customers’ solar energy systems. Our customer agreements require our customers to maintain a broadband internet connection so that we may receive data regarding solar energy system production from their home networks. We could incur significant expenses or disruptions of our operations in connection with failures of our solar monitoring systems, including failures of our customers’ home networks that would prevent us from accurately monitoring solar energy production. In addition, sophisticated hardware and operating system software and applications that we procure from third parties may contain defects in design or manufacture, including “bugs” and other problems that could unexpectedly interfere with the operation of our systems. The costs to us to eliminate or alleviate viruses and bugs, or any problems associated with failures of our customers’ home networks could be significant, and the efforts to address these problems could result in interruptions, delays or cessation of service that may impede our sales, distribution or other critical functions. When a customer’s solar monitoring system is not properly communicating with us, we estimate the production of their solar energy systems. Such estimates may prove inaccurate and could cause us to underestimate the power being generated by our solar energy systems and undercharge our customers, thereby harming our results of operations.

We are exposed to the credit risk of our customers.

Our solar energy customers primarily purchase energy or lease solar energy systems from us pursuant to one of two types of long-term contracts: a PPA or a Solar Lease. The terms of PPAs and Solar Leases are typically for 20 years, and require the customer to make monthly payments to us. Accordingly, we are subject to the credit risk of our customers. As of December 31, 2016, the average FICO score of our customers was approximately 760. However, as we grow our business, the risk of customer defaults could increase. Our reserve for this exposure is estimated to be $1.8 million as of December 31, 2016, and our future exposure may exceed the amount of such reserves.

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 substantially focuses on contracts and transactions with residential customers. We must comply with numerous federal, state and local laws and regulations that govern matters relating to our interactions with residential consumers, including those pertaining to privacy and data security, consumer financial and credit transactions, home improvement contracts, warranties, door-to-door solicitation as well as specific regulations pertaining to solar installations. These laws and regulations are dynamic and subject to potentially differing interpretations, and various federal, state and local legislative and regulatory bodies may initiate investigations, 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.

For example, Arizona enacted statutes in 2015 and 2016 that require increased disclosures and acknowledgements in any agreement governing the financing, sale or lease of distributed energy systems, such as our solar energy systems. This legislation required us to amend the standard lease and system purchase agreement we provide customers in Arizona to, among other things, include an acknowledgement by the customer of any restrictions on the ability to transfer ownership of the solar energy system or underlying property and provide contact information for any party that has the right to review or approve such a transfer and add additional customer acknowledgments of disclosures that already appear in our customer agreements (e.g., the customer’s right to cancel within three business days, the description of major solar energy system components, and certain payment details). Legislation proposed in California and New Mexico would require similar additional disclosures and potential new regulation of our industry.

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. For example, members of the U.S. House of Representatives have sent letters to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, or CFPB, and the Federal Trade Commission, or FTC, requesting that these agencies investigate the sales practices of companies providing solar energy system leases to residential consumers. In 2016, the FTC held a public workshop on competition and consumer protection issues relating to the residential solar industry, and we expect additional regulatory scrutiny of the industry at the state and federal levels. Additionally, in March 2017, we received notice that the New Mexico Attorney General’s office intends to file an action against us and our officers alleging violation of state consumer protection statutes. While we believe our standard sales practices and policies comply with all applicable laws and regulations, if federal, state or other local regulators or agencies were to initiate an investigation against us or enact regulations relating to the marketing of our products to residential consumers, responding to such investigation or complying with such regulations could divert management’s attention to 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.

30


 

As another example, the Fannie Mae Selling Guide imposes certain requirements the terms of solar power purchase agreements and leases as a condition of eligibility of home mortgages for sale to or securitization by Fannie Mae. These requirements include responsibility for damage to the real property, insurance requirements, and lender rights in the event of foreclosure. Such requirements, and possible future conditions impacting the ability of our customers to sell or refinance their homes impact the terms of our business, the terms on which we are able to obtain financing and could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

Additionally, we cannot ensure that our sales force will comply with our standard practices and policies, and any such non-compliance potentially could expose us to claims, proceedings, litigation, investigations, and/or enforcement actions 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 the laws, regulations and industry standards that apply to us.

Any unauthorized access to, or disclosure or theft of personal information or other proprietary information we gather, store or use could harm our reputation and subject us to claims or litigation.

We receive, store and use personal information of our customers, including names, addresses, e-mail addresses, credit information and other housing and energy use information. We also store and use personal information of our employees. In addition, we currently utilize certain shared information and technology systems with Vivint. We take certain steps in an effort to protect the security, integrity and confidentiality of the personal information and other proprietary and confidential information we collect, store or transmit, but there is no guarantee that inadvertent or unauthorized use or disclosure will not occur or that third parties will not gain unauthorized access to this information despite our efforts. Because techniques used to obtain unauthorized access or sabotage systems change frequently and generally are not identified until they are launched against a target, we and our suppliers or vendors, including Vivint, may be unable to anticipate these techniques or to implement adequate preventative or mitigation measures. In addition, due to a potential time lapse between when a sales representative leaves us and when we are made aware of the separation, sales representatives may have continued access to our customers’ information for a period when they should not.

We are also subject to laws and regulations relating to the collection, use, retention, security and transfer of personal information of our customers. In many cases, these laws apply not only to third-party transactions, but also to transfers of information between one company and its subsidiaries. Several jurisdictions have passed new laws in this area, and other jurisdictions are considering imposing additional restrictions. These laws continue to develop and may be inconsistent from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. In addition to government regulation, privacy advocates and industry groups may propose new and different self-regulatory standards that either legally or contractually apply to us. One example of such self-regulatory standards to which we may be contractually bound is the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard, or PCI DSS. Further, to the extent we accept and handle credit card numbers, we may be subject to various aspects of the PCI DSS. In the event we fail to be compliant with the PCI DSS, fines and other penalties could result. Complying with emerging and changing requirements may cause us to incur costs or require us to change our business practices. Any actual or alleged failure by us, our affiliates or other parties with whom we do business to comply with privacy-related or data protection laws, regulations and industry standards could result in proceedings against us by governmental entities or others, which could have a detrimental effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.

Any actual or perceived unauthorized use or disclosure of, or access to, any personal information or other proprietary or confidential information maintained by us or on our behalf, whether through breach of our systems, breach of the systems of our suppliers or vendors, including Vivint, by an unauthorized party, or through employee or contractor error, theft or misuse, or otherwise, could harm our business. If any such unauthorized use or disclosure of, or access to, such personal information were to occur or to be believed to have occurred, our operations could be seriously disrupted and we could be subject to demands, claims and litigation by private parties, and investigations, related actions, and penalties by regulatory authorities. In addition, we could incur significant costs in notifying affected persons and entities and otherwise complying with the multitude of federal, state and local laws and regulations relating to unauthorized access to, or use or disclosure of, personal information. Finally, any perceived or actual unauthorized access to, or use or 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, financial condition and results of operations.


31


 

We are involved, and may become involved in the future, in legal proceedings that, if adversely adjudicated or settled, could adversely affect our financial results.

We are, and may in the future become, party to litigation. For examples, see Note 18—Commitments and Contingencies. While we intend to defend against these actions vigorously, the ultimate outcomes of these cases are presently not determinable as they are in a preliminary phase. In general, litigation claims can be expensive and time consuming to bring or defend against, may result in the diversion of management attention and resources from our business and business goals and could result in settlements or damages that could significantly affect financial results and the conduct of our business. It is not possible to predict the final resolution of the litigation to which we currently are or may in the future become party, and the impact of certain of these matters on our business, prospects, financial condition, liquidity, results of operations and cash flows.

Risks Related to our Relationship with Vivint

Vivint provides us with certain information technology support for our business. If Vivint fails to perform its obligations to us or if we do not find appropriate replacement services, we may be unable to perform these services or implement substitute arrangements on a timely and cost-effective basis on terms favorable to us.

We have historically relied on the technical support of Vivint to run our business. We are currently using certain of Vivint’s information technology and infrastructure, though our usage continues to decline. The implementation of new software support systems requires significant management time, support and cost, and there are inherent risks associated with implementing, developing, improving and expanding our core systems. We cannot be sure that these systems will be fully or effectively implemented on a timely basis, if at all. If we do not successfully implement these systems, our operations may be disrupted and our operating results could be harmed. In addition, the new systems may not operate as we expect them to, and we may be required to expend significant resources to correct problems or find alternative sources for performing these functions.

In order to successfully transition to our own systems and operate as a standalone business, we have entered into various agreements with Vivint. These include a master framework agreement providing the overall terms of the relationship and a transition services agreement detailing various information technology services that Vivint will provide. Vivint will provide each service until we agree that support from Vivint is no longer required for that service. The information technology services provided under the transition services agreement may not be sufficient to meet our needs and we may not be able to replace these services at favorable costs and on favorable terms, if at all. Any failure or significant downtime in our own systems or in Vivint’s systems during the transition period and any difficulty in separating our information technology services from Vivint’s information technology services and integrating newly developed or acquired information technology services into our business could result in unexpected costs, impact our results or prevent us from performing other technical, administrative and information technology services on a timely basis and could materially harm our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.

Our inability to resolve any disputes that arise between us and Vivint with respect to our past and ongoing relationships may adversely affect our financial results, and such disputes may also result in claims for indemnification.

Disputes may arise between Vivint and us in a number of areas relating to our past and ongoing relationships, including the following:

 

intellectual property, labor, tax, employee benefits, indemnification and other matters arising from our separation from Vivint;

 

employee retention and recruiting;

 

our ability to use, modify and enhance the intellectual property that we have licensed from Vivint;

 

business combinations or divestitures;

 

pricing for shared and transitional services;

 

exclusivity arrangements;

 

the nature, quality and pricing of products and services Vivint agrees to provide to us; and

 

business opportunities that may be attractive to both Vivint and us.

We have entered into certain agreements with Vivint. Pursuant to the terms of the Non-Competition Agreement we have entered into with Vivint, we and Vivint each define our areas of business and our competitors, and agree not to directly or indirectly engage in the other’s business through September 30, 2017. This agreement may limit our ability to pursue attractive opportunities that we may have otherwise pursued.

32


 

Additionally, this agreement prohibits either Vivint or us from soliciting for employment any member of the other’s executive or senior management team, or any of the other’s employees who primarily manage sales, installation or services of the other’s products and services until September 30, 2019. The commitment not to solicit each other’s employees lasts for 180 days after such employee finishes employment with us or Vivint. Historically, we have recruited a majority of our sales personnel from Vivint. This agreement may require us to obtain personnel from other sources, and may limit our ability to continue scaling our business if we are unable to do so. Notwithstanding the above, a number of sales representatives work for both Vivint and us. To the extent there is any confusion concerning the relationship between us and Vivint with respect to the products and services we offer and the products and services of Vivint, such sales representatives could expose us to increased claims, proceedings, litigation and investigations by consumers and regulatory authorities. In addition, having sales representatives who work for both Vivint and us could distract such sales representatives, impact the effectiveness of our sales force, and potentially increase the turnover of our existing sales representatives who may feel displaced by the addition of Vivint sales representatives to our sales force.

Pursuant to the terms of the Marketing and Customer Relations Agreement we have entered into with Vivint, we and Vivint are required to compensate one another for sales leads that result in sales. Vivint may direct sales leads to other solar energy companies in markets in which we have not entered. However, once we enter a market, Vivint must exclusively direct to us all leads for customers and potential customers with an interest in solar energy. Vivint’s ability to sell leads to other solar energy providers in markets where we are not currently operating may adversely affect our ability to scale rapidly if we subsequently enter into such market as many of Vivint’s customers with solar energy inclinations may have already been referred to another company by the time we enter into such market. Additionally, even in markets in which we currently operate, there can be no assurances regarding how many leads Vivint will be able to generate, or that such leads will successfully result in a signed PPA, Solar Lease or System Sale. In addition, as we work to expand our customer opportunities and product offerings through our relationship with Vivint, our business and results of operations may be adversely affected by factors that may have a material impact on Vivint’s business or our relationship with them.

We may not be able to resolve any potential conflicts relating to these agreements or otherwise, and even if we do, the resolution may be less favorable than if we were dealing with an unaffiliated party. In addition, we have indemnification obligations under the intercompany services agreements we entered into with Vivint, and disputes between us and Vivint may result in claims for indemnification. However, we do not currently expect that these indemnification obligations will materially affect our potential liability compared to what it would be if we did not enter into these agreements with Vivint.

Risks Related to Our Common Stock

The price of our common stock may be volatile, and the value of your investment could decline.

The trading price of our common stock may be highly volatile. For example, from our initial public offering to December 31, 2016, the closing price of our common stock has ranged from a high of $16.01 to a low of $2.22. Our stock price could continue to be subject to wide fluctuations in response to various factors, some of which are beyond our control. These factors include:

 

our financial condition and the availability and terms of future financing;

 

changes in laws or regulations applicable to our industry or offerings, including any new tariffs or trade regulations that affect our ability to import goods at attractive prices or at all;

 

additions or departures of key personnel, such as the recent resignation of our former chief executive officer and the appointment of his replacement;

 

actual or anticipated changes in expectations regarding our performance by investors or securities analysts;

 

securities litigation involving us;

 

price and volume fluctuations in the overall stock market;

 

volatility in the market price and trading volume of companies in our industry or companies that investors consider comparable;

 

share price and volume fluctuations attributable to inconsistent trading volume levels of our shares;

 

the failure of securities analysts to cover our common stock;

 

our ability to protect our intellectual property and other proprietary rights;

 

sales of our common stock by us or our stockholders;

 

litigation or disputes involving us, our industry or both;

 

major catastrophic events;

33


 

 

general economic and market conditions; and

 

potential acquisitions.

Further, the stock markets have experienced extreme 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 wide 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, interest rate changes or international currency fluctuations, may cause the market price of our common stock to decline. If the market price of our common stock decreases, investors may not realize any return on investment and may lose some or all of their investments.

In the past, companies that have experienced volatility in the market price of their stock have been subject to securities class action litigation. We are currently subject to two putative class action lawsuits, subsequently consolidated into an amended complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, alleging certain misrepresentations by us in connection with our initial public offering. We may become the target of additional securities litigation in the future, which could result in substantial costs and divert our management’s attention from other business concerns, which could seriously harm our business.

As an emerging growth company within the meaning of the Securities Act, we will utilize certain modified disclosure requirements, and we cannot be certain if these reduced requirements will make our common stock less attractive to investors.

We are an emerging growth company, and, for as long as we continue to be an emerging growth company, we may choose to take advantage of exemptions from various reporting requirements applicable to other public companies but not to “emerging growth companies” including, but not limited to, not being required to have our independent registered public accounting firm audit our internal control over financial reporting under Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, reduced disclosure obligations regarding executive compensation in our periodic reports and proxy statements, and exemptions from the requirements of holding a nonbinding advisory vote on executive compensation and stockholder approval of any golden parachute payments not previously approved. We have utilized, and we plan in future filings with the SEC to continue to utilize, the modified disclosure requirements available to emerging growth companies. As a result, our stockholders may not have access to certain information they may deem important.

In addition, Section 107 of the JOBS Act also provides that an emerging growth company can utilize the extended transition period provided in Section 7(a)(2)(B) of the Securities Act for complying with new or revised accounting standards. Thus, an emerging growth company can delay the adoption of certain accounting standards until those standards would otherwise apply to private companies. We have irrevocably elected not to avail ourselves of this exemption from new or revised accounting standards and, therefore, we will be subject to the same new or revised accounting standards as other public companies that are not “emerging growth companies.”

We could remain an ‘‘emerging growth company’’ for up to five years, or until the earliest of (1) the last day of the first fiscal year in which our annual gross revenue exceeds $1 billion, (2) the date that we become a ‘‘large accelerated filer’’ as defined in Rule 12b-2 under the Exchange Act, which would occur if we become a seasoned issuer and the market value of our common stock that is held by non-affiliates exceeds $700 million as of the last business day of our most recently completed second fiscal quarter or (3) the date on which we have issued more than $1 billion in non-convertible debt securities during the preceding three-year period.

Our stock price could decline due to the large number of outstanding shares of our common stock eligible for future sale.

Sales of substantial amounts of our common stock in the public market, or the perception that these sales could occur, could cause the market price of our common stock to decline. These sales could also make it more difficult for us to sell equity or equity-related securities in the future at a time and price that we deem appropriate.

As of December 31, 2016, we had 110.2 million outstanding shares of common stock. These shares may be sold in the public market in the United States, subject to prior registration in the United States, if required, or reliance upon an exemption from U.S. registration, including, in the case of shares held by affiliates or control persons, compliance with the volume restrictions of Rule 144.


34


 

In addition, 1.1 million shares of our common stock reserved for future issuance under our Long-Term Incentive Plan were issued, vested and became immediately tradable without restriction. Approximately 2.7 million additional shares of our common stock reserved for future issuance under our Long-Term Incentive Plan will issue, vest and be immediately tradable without restriction on the date that our Sponsor and its affiliates achieve specified returns on their invested capital. For more information regarding the shares reserved under our Long-Term Incentive Plan see the footnote to our consolidated financial statements captioned “Note 15—Equity Compensation Plans.

Further, options to purchase 4.2 million shares of common stock remained outstanding as of December 31, 2016, with 1.8 million of those shares being vested and exercisable as of December 31, 2016. The remaining 2.4 million shares that are not yet vested are subject to ratable time-based vesting over three to five years. All shares subject to time-based vesting will become immediately tradable once vested. As of December 31, 2016, 8.0 million restricted stock units remained outstanding, of which 6.3 million are subject to ratable time-based vesting over one to four years and 1.7 million vest over one to four years subject to individual participants’ achievement of quarterly or annual performance goals.

Stockholders owning an aggregate of 84.7 million shares of our common stock are entitled, under contracts providing for registration rights, to require us to register shares of our common stock owned by them for public sale in the United States, subject to the restrictions of Rule 144. On October 1, 2014, we filed a registration statement on Form S-8 to register 22.9 million shares previously issued or reserved for future issuance under our equity compensation plans and agreements. Under this registration statement, subject to the satisfaction of applicable vesting periods, the shares of common stock issued upon exercise of outstanding options and vested RSUs will be available for immediate resale in the United States in the open market. Sales of our common stock as restrictions end or pursuant to registration rights 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 our stock price to fall and make it more difficult for investors to sell shares of our common stock.

Our Sponsor and its affiliates control us and their interests may conflict with ours or investors’ in the future.

As of December 31, 2016, 313 Acquisition LLC, which is controlled by our Sponsor and its affiliates, beneficially owned approximately 75% of our common stock. Moreover, under our organizational documents and the stockholders agreement with 313 Acquisition LLC, for so long as our existing owners and their affiliates retain significant ownership of us, we will agree to nominate to our board individuals designated by our Sponsor, whom we refer to as the Sponsor directors. In addition, for so long as 313 Acquisition LLC continues to own shares representing a majority of the total voting power, we will agree to nominate to our board individuals appointed by Summit Partners and Todd Pedersen. Even when our Sponsor and its affiliates and certain of its co-investors cease to own shares of our stock representing a majority of the total voting power, for so long as our Sponsor and its affiliates continue to own a significant percentage of our stock our Sponsor will still be able to significantly influence the composition of our board of directors and the approval of actions requiring stockholder approval. In addition, under the stockholders agreement, affiliates of our Sponsor will have consent rights with respect to certain actions involving our company, provided a certain aggregate ownership threshold is maintained collectively by our Sponsor and its affiliates, together with Summit Partners, Todd Pedersen and Alex Dunn and their respective affiliates. Accordingly, for such period of time, our Sponsor and certain of its co-investors will have significant influence with respect to our management, business plans and policies, including the appointment and removal of our officers. In particular, for so long as our Sponsor and its affiliates continue to own a significant percentage of our stock, our Sponsor will be able to cause or prevent a change of control of our company or a change in the composition of our board of directors and could preclude any unsolicited acquisition of our company. The concentration of ownership could deprive investors of an opportunity to receive a premium for shares of common stock as part of a sale of our company and ultimately might affect the market price of our common stock.

Our Sponsor and its affiliates engage in a broad spectrum of activities, including investments in the energy sector. In the ordinary course of their business activities, our Sponsor and its affiliates may from time to time acquire and hold interests in businesses that compete directly or indirectly with us. For example, affiliates of our Sponsor regularly invest in utility companies that compete with solar energy and renewable energy companies such as ours. In addition, affiliates of our Sponsor own interests in one of the largest solar power developers in India and may in the future make other investments in solar power, including in the United States. Our certificate of incorporation provides that none of our Sponsor, any of its affiliates or any director who is not employed by us (including any non-employee director who serves as one of our officers in both his or her director and officer capacities) or his or her affiliates will have any duty to refrain from engaging, directly or indirectly, in the same business activities or similar business activities or lines of business in which we operate. Our Sponsor also may pursue acquisition opportunities that may be complementary to our business, and, as a result, those acquisition opportunities may not be available to us. In addition, our Sponsor may have an interest in pursuing acquisitions, divestitures and other transactions that, in its judgment, could enhance its investment, even though such transactions might involve risks to investors.

35


 

We have elected to take advantage of the “controlled company” exemption to the corporate governance rules for NYSE-listed companies, which could make our common stock less attractive to some investors or otherwise harm our stock price.

Because we qualify as a “controlled company” under the corporate governance rules for NYSE-listed companies, we are not required to have a majority of our board of directors be independent, nor are we required to have a compensation committee or an independent nominating function. In light of our status as a controlled company, in the future we could elect not to have a majority of our board of directors be independent or not to have a compensation committee or nominating and governance committee. Accordingly, should the interests of 313 Acquisition LLC or our Sponsor differ from those of other stockholders, the other stockholders may not have the same protections afforded to stockholders of companies that are subject to all of the corporate governance rules for NYSE-listed companies. Our status as a controlled company could make our common stock less attractive to some investors or otherwise harm our stock price.

Provisions in our certificate of incorporation, bylaws, stockholders agreement and under Delaware law might discourage, delay or prevent a change of control of our company or changes in our management and, therefore, depress the trading price of our common stock.

Our certificate of incorporation, bylaws and stockholders agreement contain provisions that could depress the trading price of our common stock by discouraging, delaying or preventing a change of control of our company or changes in our management that the stockholders of our company may believe advantageous. These provisions include:

 

establishing a classified board of directors so that not all members of our board of directors are elected at one time;

 

authorizing “blank check” preferred stock that our board of directors could issue to increase the number of outstanding shares to discourage a takeover attempt;

 

limiting the ability of stockholders to call a special stockholder meeting;

 

limiting the ability of stockholders to act by written consent;

 

providing that the board of directors is expressly authorized to make, alter or repeal our bylaws;

 

establishing advance notice requirements for nominations for elections to our board of directors or for proposing matters that can be acted upon by stockholders at stockholder meetings;

 

requiring our Sponsor to consent to certain actions, as described under the section of our 2016 Proxy Statement captioned “Related Party Transactions—Agreements with Our Sponsor,” for so long as our Sponsor, Summit Partners, Todd Pedersen and Alex Dunn or their respective affiliates collectively own, in the aggregate, at least 30% of our outstanding shares of common stock;

 

the removal of directors only for cause and only upon the affirmative vote of the holders of at least 66-2/3% in voting power of all the then-outstanding shares of stock of our company entitled to vote thereon, voting together as a single class, if Blackstone and its affiliates beneficially own, in the aggregate, less than 30% in voting power of the stock of our company entitled to vote generally in the election of directors; and

 

that certain provisions may be amended only by the affirmative vote of the holders of at least 66-2/3% in voting power of all the then-outstanding shares of stock of our company entitled to vote thereon, voting together as a single class, if Blackstone and its affiliates beneficially own, in the aggregate, less than 30% in voting power of the stock of our company entitled to vote generally in the election of directors.

If securities or industry analysts do not publish or cease publishing research or reports about us, our business or our market, or if they change their recommendations regarding our stock adversely, our stock price and trading volume could decline.

The trading market for our common stock will be influenced by the research and reports that industry or securities analysts may publish about us, our business, our market or our competitors. If any of the analysts who do now, or may in the future, cover us change their recommendation regarding our stock adversely, or provide more favorable relative recommendations about our competitors, our stock price would likely decline. If any analyst who may cover us were to 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 our stock price or trading volume to decline.

Item 1B. Unresolved Staff Comments.

None.

36


 

Item 2. Properties.

Our corporate headquarters and executive offices are located in Lehi, Utah, where we lease approximately 150,000 square feet of office space that expires in 2028. We lease approximately 91,000 square feet of office space with TCO-Canyon Park, LLC in Orem, Utah, and we are actively pursuing avenues to sublease or exit this location prior to the lease termination in September 2017. We also have a lease for the construction of a second office building on the corporate headquarters campus that will increase the leased premises by approximately 150,000 square feet. The lease on the second office building is currently anticipated to commence in 2020. We believe that our currently leased space is sufficient to meet our current needs and our anticipated growth.

Our other locations include leased warehouses and sales offices that range from approximately 1,000 to 36,000 square feet for terms ranging from one to six years in Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah.

Item 3. Legal Proceedings.

For a list of our current legal proceedings, see Note 18—Commitments and Contingencies.

Item 4. Mine Safety Disclosures.

Not applicable.

 

 

37


 

PART II

 

 

Item 5. Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities.

Our common stock has been traded on the New York Stock Exchange since October 1, 2014 under the symbol “VSLR.” Prior to October 1, 2014, there was no established public trading market for our common stock. The following table sets forth the high and low sales price for our common stock as reported by the New York Stock Exchange for the periods indicated.

 

High

 

 

Low

 

Fourth quarter 2016

3.35

 

 

 

2.50

 

Third quarter 2016

 

3.70

 

 

 

2.74

 

Second quarter 2016

4.06

 

 

 

2.16

 

First quarter 2016

10.16

 

 

 

2.41

 

Fourth quarter 2015

13.05

 

 

 

6.59

 

Third quarter 2015

 

16.00

 

 

 

9.91

 

Second quarter 2015

15.28

 

 

 

11.52

 

First quarter 2015

13.56

 

 

 

7.70

 

As of March 1, 2017, we had five stockholders of record of our common stock. We also have approximately 16,500 beneficial holders whose stock is in nominee or “street name” accounts through brokers.

Stock Performance Graph

The following graph is not “soliciting material,” is not deemed “filed” with the SEC and is not to be incorporated by reference into any filing of Vivint Solar, Inc. under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “Securities Act”), or the Exchange Act, whether made before or after the date hereof and irrespective of any general incorporation language in any such filing. 

The following graph compares for the period from October 1, 2014 through December 31, 2016, the total cumulative stockholder return on our common stock with the total cumulative return of the New York Stock Exchange Composite Index and the MAC Global Solar Energy Index. The graph assumes a $100 investment at the beginning of the period in our common stock, the stocks represented in the New York Stock Exchange Composite Index and the MAC Global Solar Energy Index, and assumes reinvestment of any dividends. Historical stock price performance should not be relied upon as an indication of future stock price performance:

38


 

Recent Sales of Unregistered Securities

None.

Issuer Purchase of Equity Securities

None.

Dividend Policy

We have never declared or paid any cash dividends on our common stock. We currently intend to retain any future earnings to fund our growth, and we do not anticipate declaring or paying any cash dividends in the foreseeable future. Additionally, the terms of one or more of our current debt instruments restrict our ability to pay cash dividends on our common stock. Any future determination to declare cash dividends will be made at the discretion of our board of directors, subject to applicable laws and provisions of our debt instruments and organizational documents, after taking into account our financial condition, results of operations, capital requirements, general business conditions and other factors that our board of directors may deem relevant.

Item 6. Selected Financial Data.

The following table sets forth selected historical consolidated financial and other data for the periods ended and at the dates indicated below. On November 16, 2012, we were acquired by The Blackstone Group, L.P., our Sponsor. We refer to the years ended December 31, 2016, 2015, 2014 and 2013 and the period from November 17, 2012 through December 31, 2012 as the Successor Periods or Successor, and the period from January 1, 2012 through November 16, 2012 as the Predecessor Period or Predecessor. Our selected historical consolidated statement of operations data for the years ended December 31, 2016, 2015, and 2014 presented in this table and the balance sheet data as of December 31, 2016 and 2015 have been derived from our historical audited consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this report. Our historical results are not necessarily indicative of the results that may be expected in the future. The following selected financial data should be read in conjunction with the sections of this document captioned “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and our consolidated financial statements and related notes included elsewhere in this report.

 

 

Successor

 

 

 

Predecessor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Period from

 

 

 

Period from

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

November 17,

 

 

 

January 1,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

through

 

 

 

through

 

 

 

Year Ended December 31,

 

 

December 31,

 

 

 

November 16,

 

 

 

2016

 

 

2015

 

 

2014

 

 

2013

 

 

2012

 

 

 

2012

 

 

 

(In thousands, except per share data)

 

Statements of Operations Data:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Operating leases and incentives revenue

 

$

105,353

 

 

$

61,150

 

 

$

21,688

 

 

$

5,864

 

 

$

109

 

 

 

$

183

 

Solar energy system and product sales revenue

 

 

29,814

 

 

 

3,032

 

 

 

3,570

 

 

 

306

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

157

 

Total revenue

 

 

135,167

 

 

 

64,182

 

 

 

25,258

 

 

 

6,170

 

 

 

109

 

 

 

 

340

 

Total operating expenses

 

 

337,700

 

 

 

295,296

 

 

 

187,552

 

 

 

57,508

 

 

 

4,346

 

 

 

 

12,657

 

Net loss attributable to non-controlling interests

   and redeemable non-controlling interests

 

 

(260,523

)

 

 

(266,345

)

 

 

(137,036

)

 

 

(62,108

)

 

 

(699

)

 

 

 

(1,771

)

Net income available (loss attributable) to

   common stockholders

 

 

17,986

 

 

 

13,080

 

 

 

(28,883

)

 

 

5,638

 

 

 

(2,604

)

 

 

 

(31,674

)

Net income available (loss attributable) per share

   to common stockholders(1):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Basic

 

$

0.17

 

 

$

0.12

 

 

$

(0.35

)

 

$

0.08

 

 

$

(0.03

)

 

 

$

(0.42

)

Diluted

 

$

0.16

 

 

$

0.12

 

 

$

(0.35

)

 

$

0.07

 

 

$

(0.03

)

 

 

$

(0.42

)

(1)  See Note 19—Basic and Diluted Net Income (Loss) Per Share to our consolidated financial statements for an explanation of the method used to calculate basic and diluted net income available (loss attributable) per share to common stockholders and the weighted-average number of shares used in the computation of the per share amounts.

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As of December 31,

 

 

 

2016

 

 

2015

 

 

2014

 

 

2013

 

 

2012

 

 

 

(In thousands)

 

Balance Sheet Data:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cash and cash equivalents

 

$

96,586

 

 

$

92,213

 

 

$

261,649

 

 

$

6,038

 

 

$

11,650

 

Solar energy systems, net

 

 

1,458,355

 

 

 

1,102,157

 

 

 

588,167

 

 

 

188,058

 

 

 

47,089

 

Total assets

 

 

2,126,356

 

 

 

1,609,070

 

 

 

1,064,324

 

 

 

297,707

 

 

 

132,087

 

Revolving lines of credit, related party

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

41,412

 

 

 

15,000

 

Long-term obligations (1)

 

 

767,619

 

 

 

431,394

 

 

 

114,678

 

 

 

3,761

 

 

 

 

Redeemable non-controlling interests

 

 

129,676

 

 

 

169,541

 

 

 

128,427

 

 

 

73,265

 

 

 

17,741

 

Total equity

 

 

666,834

 

 

 

609,252

 

 

 

613,136

 

 

 

80,621

 

 

 

71,323

 

(1) Includes the current and long-term portions of debt outstanding in the years presented, and the amounts payable under capital lease obligations in 2013 through 2016

Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations.

Overview

You should read the following discussion together with Item 6 “Selected Financial Data” and our consolidated financial statements and the related notes included in Item 8 of this report. This discussion contains forward-looking statements about our business and operations. Our actual results may differ materially from those we currently anticipate as a result of the many factors, including those we describe under Item 1A “Risk Factors” and elsewhere in this report. See “Forward-Looking Statements.”

Business Overview

We primarily offer distributed solar energy — electricity generated by a solar energy system installed at or near customers’ locations — to residential customers through a customer-focused and neighborhood-driven direct-to-home sales model. We believe we are disrupting the traditional electricity market by satisfying customers’ demand for increased energy independence and less expensive, more socially responsible electricity generation. As a result, we primarily compete with traditional utilities in the markets we serve, and our strategy is to price the energy we sell below prevailing retail electricity rates. The price our customers pay to buy energy from us varies depending on the state where the customer is located, the impact of the local traditional utility, customer price sensitivity, the need to offer a compelling financial benefit and the price other solar energy companies charge in the region. We also compete with distributed solar energy system providers for solar energy system sales on the basis of price, service and availability of financing options.

Our primary product offering includes the following:

 

Power Purchase Agreements. Under power purchase agreements, or PPAs, we charge customers a fee per kilowatt hour based on the electricity production of the solar energy system, which is billed monthly. PPAs typically have a term of 20 years and are subject to an annual price escalator of 2.9%. Over the term of the PPA, we operate the system and agree to maintain it in good condition. Customers who buy energy from us under PPAs are covered by our workmanship warranty equal to the length of the term of these agreements.

 

Legal-form Leases. Under legal-form leases, or Solar Leases, we charge customers a fixed monthly payment to lease the solar energy system, which is based on a calculation that accounts for expected solar energy generation. Solar Leases typically have a term of 20 years and are subject to an annual price escalator of 2.9%. We provide our Solar Lease customers a performance guarantee, under which we agree to refund payments to the customer if the solar energy system does not meet the guaranteed production level in the prior 12-month period. Over the term of the Solar Lease, we operate the system and agree to maintain it in good condition. Customers who buy energy from us under Solar Leases are covered by our workmanship warranty equal to the length of the term of these agreements.

 

Solar energy System Sales. Under solar energy system sales, or System Sales, we offer our customers the option to purchase solar energy systems for cash or through third-party financing. The price for these contracts is determined as a function of the respective market rate and the size of the solar energy system to be installed. Under certain loan products, customers can additionally contract with us for certain structural upgrades in connection with the installation of a solar energy system. System Sales are becoming an increasingly significant portion of our business and we believe they are more advantageous to us as they provide more immediate access to cash.

40


 

Of our 222.2 megawatts installed in 2016, approximately 84% were installed under PPAs, 10% were installed under Solar Leases and 6% were installed under System Sales. As of December 31, 2016, the average FICO score of our customers was approximately 760.

In 2016, we began adjusting our installation policies and pricing. We have become more selective in our installation policies to increase incremental value by limiting the installation of smaller system sizes and limiting installations on certain roof types. We have also changed our pricing in certain markets to maximize returns on investment. We continue to evaluate and make adjustments to our installation policies as our processes become more efficient and power rates increase. We also continue to evaluate pricing to optimize our use of capital based on market conditions and utility rates.

Our ability to offer long-term customer contracts depends in part on our ability to finance the installation of the solar energy systems by co-investing or entering into lease arrangements with fund investors who value the resulting customer receivables and investment tax credits, accelerated tax depreciation and other incentives related to the solar energy systems through structured investments known as “tax equity.” Tax equity investments are generally structured as non-recourse project financings. In the context of the distributed solar energy market, tax equity investors make an upfront advance payment to a sponsor through an investment fund in exchange for a share of the tax attributes and cash flows emanating from an underlying portfolio of solar energy systems. In these tax equity investments, the U.S. federal tax attributes offset taxes that otherwise would have been payable on the investors’ other operations. The terms and conditions of each investment fund vary significantly by investor and by fund. We continue to negotiate with financial investors to create additional investment funds.

With one exception, our investment funds have adopted the partnership or inverted lease structures. Under partnership structures, we and our fund investors contribute cash into a partnership company. The partnership uses this cash to acquire solar energy systems developed by us and sells energy from such systems to customers or directly leases the solar energy systems to customers. Under our existing inverted lease structures, we and the fund investor set up a multi-tiered investment vehicle, comprised of two partnership entities, that facilitates the pass through of the tax benefits to the fund investors. In this structure, we contribute solar energy systems to a lessor partnership entity in exchange for interests in the lessor partnership and the fund investors contribute cash to a lessee partnership in exchange for interests in the lessee partnership which in turn makes an investment in the lessor partnership entity in exchange for interests in the lessor partnership. The lessor partnership distributes the cash contributions received from the lessee partnership to our wholly owned subsidiary that contributed the projects to the lessor partnership. The lessor partnership leases the contributed solar energy systems to the lessee partnership under a master lease, and the lessee partnership pays the lessor partnership rent for those systems.

We have determined that we are the primary beneficiary in these partnership and inverted lease structures for accounting purposes. Accordingly, we consolidate the assets and liabilities and operating results of these partnerships in our consolidated financial statements. We recognize the fund investors’ share of the net assets of the investment funds as non-controlling interests and redeemable non-controlling interests in our consolidated balance sheets. These income or loss allocations, reflected on our consolidated statement of operations, may create significant volatility in our reported results of operations, including potentially changing net income available (loss attributable) to common stockholders from income to loss, or vice versa, from quarter to quarter.

Recent Developments

2017 Term Loan

On January 5, 2017, we entered into a long-term fixed rate credit agreement, or the 2017 Term Loan, pursuant to which we borrowed $203.8 million with certain financial institutions for which Wells Fargo Bank, National Association is acting as administrative agent. The borrower under the 2017 Term Loan is Vivint Solar Financing III, LLC, our wholly owned indirect subsidiary. Proceeds of the 2017 Term Loan were used to (1) repay existing indebtedness of $140.3 million under our aggregation credit facility, or the Aggregation Facility, with respect to the portfolio of projects being used as collateral for the 2017 Term Loan, or the 2017 Term Loan Portfolio, (2) fund a debt service reserve account and other agreed reserves of $20.1 million, (3) pay transaction costs and fees in connection with the 2017 Term Loan of $5.5 million, (4) pay the investment tax credit, or ITC, insurance premium of $2.0 million on behalf of one of our investment funds, and (5) distribute $35.9 million to us as reimbursement for capital costs associated with deployment of the 2017 Term Loan Portfolio. For additional details regarding the 2017 Term Loan, see Note 20—Subsequent Events.


41


 

Aggregation Facility Amendment

On March 9, 2017, we amended and restated the Aggregation Facility. Pursuant to the Aggregation Facility, as amended, the parties agreed to (1) extend the date through which we may incur borrowings under the Aggregation Facility to March 31, 2020, or the Availability Period, with an option to extend such period by an additional 12 months to the extent the lenders agree to such extension; (2) extend the maturity date for the initial loans under the Aggregation Facility from March 12, 2018 to September 30, 2020; and (3) increase the “Applicable Margin” used to determine the applicable interest rate on outstanding borrowings after the Availability Period from 3.50% to 3.75%. The “Applicable Margin” used to determine the applicable interest rate on outstanding borrowings during the Availability Period remains unchanged at 3.25%.

In addition, the amendments to the Aggregation Facility, (1) allow us to satisfy concentration covenants by maintaining insurance policies with respect to certain tax equity funds for the benefit of the lenders to cover any indemnification payments we may be required to make to certain of our tax equity investors in connection with the loss of ITCs and (2) modify the customer FICO score requirement thresholds to enable us to borrow more against certain solar energy systems. The amendments to the Aggregation Facility also provide the ability for us to enter into forward-starting interest rate hedges and require no less than 75% of outstanding loan balances to be hedged at all times.

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. These estimates 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, these estimates are based on a combination of assumptions that may not prove to be accurate over time, particularly given that a number of them involve estimates of cash flows up to 30 years in the future. Underperformance of the solar energy systems, payment defaults by our customers, cancellation of signed contracts, competition from other distributed solar energy companies, development in the distributed solar energy market and the energy market more broadly, technical innovation or other factors described under the section of this report captioned “Risk Factors” could cause our actual results to differ materially from our calculations. Furthermore, while we believe we have calculated these key metrics in a manner consistent with those used by others in our industry, other companies may in fact calculate these metrics differently than we do now or in the future, which would reduce their usefulness as a comparative measure.

 

Solar energy system installations. Solar energy system installations represents the number of solar energy systems installed on customers’ premises. Cumulative solar energy system installations represents the aggregate number of solar energy systems that have been installed on customers’ premises. We track the number of solar energy system installations as of the end of a given period as an indicator of our historical growth and as an indicator of our rate of growth from period to period.

 

Megawatts installed. Megawatts installed represents the aggregate megawatt nameplate capacity of solar energy systems that have been installed during the applicable period. Cumulative megawatts installed represents the aggregate megawatt nameplate capacity of solar energy systems that have been installed. We track the nameplate capacity of our solar energy systems as measured in megawatts DC STC, or direct current standard test conditions. Because the size of solar energy systems varies greatly, we believe that tracking the aggregate megawatt nameplate capacity of the systems is an indicator of our growth rate. We track megawatts installed in a given period as an indicator of asset growth in the period and cumulative megawatts installed as of the end of a given period as an indicator of our historical growth.

 

Estimated nominal contracted payments remaining. Estimated nominal contracted payments remaining equals the sum of the remaining cash payments that our customers are expected to pay over the term of their PPAs or Solar Leases with us for systems installed as of the measurement date. For a PPA, we multiply the contract price per kilowatt-hour by the estimated annual energy output of the associated solar energy system to determine the estimated nominal contracted payments. For a Solar Lease, we include the monthly fees and upfront fee, if any, as set forth in the lease. We use the nominal contracted payments, together with the value attributable to investment tax credits, accelerated depreciation, solar renewable energy certificates, or SRECs, state tax benefits and rebates, to cover the fixed and variable costs associated with installing solar energy systems. Estimated nominal contracted payments remaining is a reporting metric forecasted as of specified dates. It is a forward-looking number, and we use judgment in developing the assumptions used to calculate it. The primary assumption in the calculation is the annual energy output of the associated solar energy systems, which is estimated based on typical annual sun hours given the system’s location, nameplate production capacity of the system, and estimated declines in the solar equipment productivity over the life of the system. Those assumptions may not prove to be accurate over time.


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Estimated retained value. Estimated retained value represents the net cash flows discounted at 6% that we expect to receive from customers pursuant to long-term customer contracts net of estimated cash distributions to fund investors and estimated operating expenses for systems installed as of the measurement date. Estimated retained value, and the other metrics that are based on estimated retained value, are key operating metrics because these amounts reflect the net cash flows we expect to receive from customers pursuant to long-term customer contracts and represent valuable future revenue streams created by our operations, but which are not yet recognized on our financial statements. Estimated retained value and estimated retained value per watt amounts do not consider the impact of other events that could adversely affect the cash flows generated by the solar energy system during the contract term and anticipated renewal period. These events could include, but are not limited to, non-payment of obligated amounts by the customer, declines in utility rates for residential electricity or early contract termination by the customer as a result of the customer purchasing the solar energy system in connection with the sale of the home on which the solar energy system is installed.

 

Estimated retained value under energy contracts. Estimated retained value under energy contracts represents the estimated retained value from the solar energy systems during the typical 20-year term of our long-term contracts.

 

Estimated retained value of renewal. Estimated retained value of renewal represents the estimated retained value associated with an assumed 10-year renewal term following the expiration of the initial contract term. To calculate estimated retained value of renewal, we assume all contracts are renewed at 90% of the contractual price in effect at the expiration of the initial term.

 

Estimated retained value per watt. Estimated retained value per watt is calculated by dividing the estimated retained value as of the measurement date by the aggregate nameplate capacity of solar energy systems under long-term customer contracts that have been installed as of such date, and is subject to the same assumptions and uncertainties as estimated retained value. We have chosen to initially introduce our solar energy systems in states where utility rates, solar resource and regulatory policies provide for the most compelling market for distributed solar energy. Although we believe there are many other markets that have attractive economics for us, estimated retained value per watt will decrease over time because these markets are not as attractive as the ones in which we currently operate. We may experience disproportionate growth in markets that offer attractive incentives such as SRECs, the value of which is not reflected in estimated retained value. Furthermore, other companies may calculate estimated retained value per watt (or a similar metric) differently than we do, which reduces its usefulness as a comparative measure.

 

Year Ended December 31,

 

 

2016

 

 

2015

 

 

2014

 

Solar energy system installations

 

31,071

 

 

 

32,807

 

 

 

22,424

 

Megawatts installed

 

222.2

 

 

 

230.8

 

 

 

155.4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As of December 31,

 

 

2016

 

 

2015

 

 

2014

 

Cumulative solar energy system installations

 

99,598

 

 

 

68,527

 

 

 

35,720

 

Cumulative megawatts installed

 

681.1

 

 

 

458.9

 

 

 

228.2

 

Estimated nominal contracted payments remaining (in millions)

$

2,568.6

 

 

$

1,871.9

 

 

$

1,030.5

 

Estimated retained value under energy contracts (in millions)

$

1,015.1

 

 

$

705.6

 

 

$

383.1

 

Estimated retained value of renewal (in millions)

$

299.4

 

 

$

200.5

 

 

$

97.9

 

Estimated retained value (in millions)

$

1,314.5

 

 

$

906.1

 

 

$

480.9

 

Estimated retained value per watt

$

1.98

 

 

$

1.98

 

 

$

2.11

 

Factors Affecting Our Performance

Financing Availability

Our future success depends in part on our ability to raise capital from third-party investors on competitive terms to help finance the deployment of our residential solar energy systems under long-term customer contracts. There are a limited number of potential investment fund investors and the competition for this investment capital is intense. The principal tax credit on which fund investors in our industry rely is the ITC. The amount for the ITC is equal to 30% of the value of eligible solar property. By statute, the ITC percentage is scheduled to decrease to 26% on January 1, 2020, 22% on January 1, 2021 and 10% on January 1, 2022. We intend to create additional investment funds with financial investors and corporate investors. We also use debt, equity or other financing strategies to fund our operations, including our obligations to make contributions to investment funds. Such other financing strategies may increase our cost of capital. Our future success also depends in part on our ability to partner with third-parties who administer solar loan products.

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Incentives; Net Metering

Our cost of capital, the price we can charge for electricity, the cost of our systems and the demand for residential distributed solar energy is impacted by a number of federal, state and local government incentives and regulations, including: tax credits, particularly the ITC; tax abatements; rebate programs; net metering; and SRECs. These programs have on occasion been challenged by incumbent utilities and questioned by those in government and others arguing for less governmental spending and involvement in the energy market. In recent years, net metering programs have been subject to regulatory scrutiny or legislative proposals in some states, such as Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York and Utah. Regulators in these states have considered imposing limits on the aggregate capacity of net metering generation, fees on net metering customers, reducing the rate that net metering customers are paid for the power that they deliver back to the grid and allegations that homeowners with net metered solar energy systems shift the costs of maintaining the electric grid onto non-solar ratepayers. In California, for example, after the earlier of July 1, 2017 or the date the applicable investor owned utility reaches its statutory net metering cap, customers will take service on a new net metering successor tariff. For the net energy metering successor tariff, the California Public Utilities Commission largely upheld net metering in its current form with full retail compensation for exports and rejected utility requests to impose extremely high fixed and capacity charges. The California Public Utilities Commission did allow the utilities to impose reasonable interconnection fees and some additional charges on customers, and will require such customers to take service on time-of-use rates.

In October 2015, the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission issued an order closing the Hawaiian Electric Company’s net metering program to new participants and replaced this program with two new options for customers to interconnect to the utilities’ power grids, neither of which provides for compensation for exports at retail electricity rates. In late 2015, the Nevada Public Utilities Commission voted in favor of a plan which limits export compensation to net metering customers and imposes high monthly fees on such customers. This order greatly reduced the economic benefit to Nevada customers of residential solar. As a result, we do not operate in Nevada. In December 2016, Arizona Corporation Commission decided to adjust the net metering credit that customers receive for energy generated from solar energy systems located on their roofs from retail credit to a resource comparison proxy calculation credit. The Arizona Corporation Commission is also considering a settlement agreement between the Arizona Public Service Company and industry stakeholders under which demand charges based on a customer’s maximum average rate of energy consumed during a specified interval would be imposed on residential customers under certain rate schedules. Several other states also plan to revisit their net metering policies in the coming years.

We also apply for and receive SRECs and other state-level incentives in certain jurisdictions for power generated by our solar energy systems, which comprise a significant portion of the value to us of the associated solar energy systems. The market for SRECs is extremely volatile and sellers are often able to obtain better unit pricing by selling a large quantity of SRECs. As a result, we may sell SRECs infrequently, at opportune times and in large quantities and the timing and volume of our SREC sales may lead to fluctuations in our quarterly results.

Cost of Solar Energy Systems

The declining cost of solar panels and the raw materials necessary to manufacture them has been a key driver in the price we charge for electricity and customer adoption of solar energy. Although solar panel and raw material prices may continue to decline, it is possible they will not decline at the same rate as they have over the past several years or that they may increase. Although the solar panel market has seen an increase in supply, upward pressure on prices may occur due to growth in the solar industry, regulatory policy changes and the resulting increase in demand for solar panels and the raw materials necessary to manufacture them. In recent years, the U.S. government has imposed anti-dumping duties and countervailing duties on solar panels and other system components produced in China and Taiwan. See “Risk FactorsRisk Related to our BusinessOur business has benefited from the declining cost of solar panels, and our financial results may be harmed if the cost of solar panels increases in the future.” In the past we have purchased virtually all of the solar panels used in our solar energy systems from manufacturers based in China. However, all of the solar panel manufacturers with which we do business have recently begun manufacturing solar panels outside of China in countries such as Vietnam, Malaysia, Korea and Thailand in order to avoid the current tariffs. We currently anticipate this trend will continue as solar panel manufacturers seek lower tariff countries. The cost of other components, such as inverters, racking systems and other electrical equipment, may also vary from period to period. A key part of our strategy is to reduce costs, and if solar energy system costs begin to increase, we may be forced to pass these costs on to our customers and the value proposition for customers would decrease. Alternatively, our financial results or growth would decrease if we did not pass these costs on to our customers.


44


 

Sustainable Growth

We operate in states whose utility prices, sun exposure, climate conditions and regulatory policies provide for the most compelling market for distributed solar energy. Utility rates, availability of state incentives, other state, regional and local regulations, sun exposure and weather conditions, which can impact sales, installation and system productivity, vary by market. For example, markets in California typically have higher utility rates than markets in the Eastern United States. As a result, systems in California typically have a higher retained value than systems in the Eastern United States. However, we are entitled to receive SRECs and other state incentives in many Eastern states that are not available in the Western United States. Although the impact of such incentives is not reflected in the retained value of the associated systems, they do generate value for us. As a result, our financial and operating results will be affected by the geographic mix of the systems we install. Competition also varies by market and we may compete with national and local solar companies that offer products similar to ours. We plan to enlarge our addressable market by expanding our presence to new states on a measured basis. Offering System Sales to customers allows us to enter markets where customers prefer to own their solar energy systems or locations where our PPAs and Solar Leases are not permitted by local regulations or are not economically feasible.

Sales Channels

We place our integrated residential solar energy systems through a sales organization that primarily uses a direct-to-home sales model. We believe that a high-touch, customer-focused selling process is important before, during and after the sale of our products to maximize our sales success. The members of our sales force typically reside and work within the market they serve. We also generate a significant amount of sales through customer referrals. We have found that customer referrals increase in relation to our penetration in a particular market. Shortly after entering a new market, referrals become an increasingly effective way to market our solar energy systems. In addition to direct sales, we sell to customers through our inside sales team. We also continue to explore opportunities to sell solar energy systems to customers through a number of other distribution channels, including relationships with real estate management companies, home builders, home improvement stores, large construction, electrical and roofing companies and other third parties that have access to large numbers of potential customers.

Relationship with Vivint

We have historically relied on the technical support of APX Group, Inc., or Vivint, to run our business. Although our usage has decreased over time, we continue to use certain of Vivint’s information technology and infrastructure. Our historical financial information does not necessarily reflect what our financial position, results of operations, cash flows or costs and expenses would have been had we operated separately from Vivint during the historical periods presented in this report. The historical costs and expenses reflected in our consolidated financial statements include charges to certain corporate functions historically provided to us by Vivint. We and Vivint believe these charges are reasonable reflections of the historical utilization levels of these services in support of our business.

In order to successfully transition to our own systems and operate as a standalone business, we have entered into various agreements with Vivint. These include a master framework agreement providing the overall terms of the relationship and a transition services agreement detailing various information technology services that Vivint will provide. Vivint will provide each service until we agree that support from Vivint is no longer required for that service. The information technology services provided under the transition services agreement may not be sufficient to meet our needs and we may not be able to replace these services at favorable costs and on favorable terms, if at all. Any failure or significant downtime in our own systems or in Vivint’s systems during the transition period and any difficulty in separating our information technology services from Vivint’s information technology services and integrating newly developed or acquired information technology services into our business could result in unexpected costs, impact our results or prevent us from performing other technical, administrative and information technology services on a timely basis and could materially harm our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.

Components of Results of Operations

Revenue

We classify and account for our PPAs as operating leases, and recognize revenue from these contracts based on the actual amount of power generated at rates specified under the contracts. We also offer Solar Leases, which include performance guarantees. Depending on the level of the guarantee, we either recognize revenue based on the amount of power generated at rates specified under the contracts and establish a reserve for those lease contracts for which we may have to make a payment at the end of each year to the customer if the solar energy systems do not meet a guaranteed production level in the prior 12-month period; or we treat as an operating lease and recognize revenue on a straight-line basis over the lease term. In 2015, we began offering System Sales. Revenue for System Sales is recognized when systems are interconnected to local power grids and granted permission to operate, assuming all other revenue recognition criteria are met.

45


 

One of our investment funds is structured as a lease pass-through fund arrangement. Under the agreement, we contributed solar energy systems and the investor made large upfront payments to one of our wholly owned subsidiaries and is obligated to make subsequent periodic payments. We allocated a portion of the aggregate payments received from the fund investor to the estimated fair value of assigned ITCs, and the balance to the future customer lease payments that are also assigned to the investor. The fair value of the ITCs was estimated by multiplying the ITC rate of 30% by the fair value of the systems that were sold to the lease pass-through fund. The fair value of the systems was determined by independent appraisals. Our subsidiary has an obligation to ensure the solar energy systems are in service and operational for a term of five years to avoid any recapture of the ITCs. Accordingly, we recognize revenue as the recapture provisions lapse assuming all other revenue recognition criteria have been met. The amounts allocated to the ITCs are initially recorded as deferred revenue in the consolidated balance sheet, and subsequently, one-fifth of the amounts allocated to the ITCs is recognized as revenue from operating leases and solar energy systems incentives in the consolidated statements of operations based on the anniversary of each solar energy system’s placed in service date.

We consider the proceeds from solar energy system rebate incentives offered by certain state and local governments to form part of the payments under our operating leases and recognize such payments as revenue over the contract term. We record revenue from our operating leases over the term of our long-term customer contracts, which is typically 20 years. Less than 1% of our revenue was attributable to state and local rebates and incentives in all periods presented. We also apply for and receive SRECs in certain jurisdictions for power generated by our solar energy systems under long-term customer contracts. We generally recognize revenue related to the sale of SRECs upon delivery. The market for SRECs is extremely volatile and sellers are often able to obtain better unit pricing by selling a large quantity of SRECs. As a result, we may sell SRECs infrequently, at opportune times and in large quantities and the timing and volume of our SREC sales may lead to fluctuations in our quarterly results. We also recognize revenue related to the sale of photovoltaic installation devices and software products and follow respective revenue recognition guidance for these sales.

The following table sets forth our revenue by major product (in thousands):

 

Year Ended December 31,

 

 

2016

 

 

2015

 

 

2014

 

Revenue:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Operating leases and other incentives

$

81,610

 

 

$

47,224

 

 

$

19,051

 

SREC sales

 

19,304

 

 

 

13,926

 

 

 

2,637

 

ITC revenue

 

4,439

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total operating leases and incentives

 

105,353

 

 

 

61,150

 

 

 

21,688

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

System sales

 

27,645

 

 

 

762

 

 

 

357

 

Photovoltaic installation devices and software products

 

2,169

 

 

 

2,270

 

 

 

3,213

 

Total solar energy system and product sales

 

29,814

 

 

 

3,032

 

 

 

3,570

 

Total revenue

$

135,167

 

 

$

64,182

 

 

$

25,258

 

Operating Expenses

Cost of Revenue.     Cost of operating leases and incentives includes the depreciation of the cost of solar energy systems under long-term customer contracts, which are depreciated for accounting purposes over 30 years; and the amortization of the related capitalized initial direct costs, which are amortized over the term of the long-term customer contract. It also includes allocated indirect material and labor costs related to the processing; account creation; design; installation; interconnection and servicing of solar energy systems that are not capitalized, such as personnel costs not directly associated to a solar energy system installation; warehouse rent and utilities; and fleet vehicle executory costs. The cost of revenue for the sales of SRECs is limited to broker fees which are paid in connection with certain SREC transactions. In 2017, we expect our cost of operating leases and incentives revenue will increase in absolute dollars compared to 2016 primarily due to depreciation associated with additional solar energy systems being placed in service.

Cost of solar energy system and product sales consists of direct and allocated indirect material and labor costs and overhead costs for System Sales, photovoltaic installation devices and software products and structural upgrades. Indirect material and labor costs are ratably allocated to System Sales and include costs related to the processing; account creation; design; installation; interconnection and servicing of solar energy systems that are not capitalized, such as personnel costs not directly associated to a solar energy system installation; warehouse rent and utilities; and fleet vehicle executory costs. Costs of solar energy system sales are recognized in conjunction with the related revenue upon the solar energy system passing an inspection by the responsible governmental department after completion of system installation and interconnection to the power grid, assuming all other revenue recognition criteria are met. In 2017, we expect our cost of solar energy system and product sales will increase in absolute dollars compared to 2016 as we continue to increase System Sales.

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Sales and Marketing Expenses.     Sales and marketing expenses include personnel costs, such as salaries, benefits, bonuses and stock-based compensation for our corporate sales and marketing employees and exclude costs related to our direct sales personnel that are accounted for as cost of revenue. Sales and marketing expenses also include advertising, promotional and other marketing-related expenses; certain allocated corporate overhead costs related to facilities and information technology; travel; professional services and costs related to customer cancellations. In 2017, we expect sales and marketing costs will remain consistent in absolute dollars compared to 2016.

Research and Development.     Research and development expense is comprised primarily of salaries and benefits and other costs related to the development of photovoltaic installation devices, other solar technologies and software products. Research and development costs are charged to expense when incurred. In 2017, we expect research and development costs will remain consistent in absolute dollars compared to 2016.

General and Administrative Expenses.     General and administrative expenses include personnel costs, such as salaries, bonuses and stock-based compensation related to our general and administrative personnel; professional fees related to legal, human resources, accounting and structured finance services; travel; and allocated facilities and information technology costs. Our financial results have included charges for the use of services provided by Vivint, including shared facilities in 2014. These costs were based on the actual cost incurred by Vivint without mark-up. The charges to us may not be representative of what the costs would have been had we operated separately from Vivint during the periods presented; however, we believe the amounts charged are representative of the incremental cost to Vivint to provide these services to us. We continue to use certain information and technology resources and systems administered by Vivint as of December 31, 2016, though our usage continues to decline. In 2017, we expect that general and administrative expense will increase in absolute dollars compared to 2016.

Amortization of Intangible Assets.     We have recorded intangible assets at their fair value related to acquisitions in which we have been involved and at cost for internally developed software projects. Such intangible assets are amortized over their estimated useful lives.

Impairment of Goodwill and Intangible Assets.     In conjunction with the acquisition by SunEdison failing to occur, our market capitalization decreased significantly during the first quarter of 2016, from $1.0 billion as of December 31, 2015 to $283.0 million as of March 31, 2016. We considered this significant decrease in market capitalization to be an indicator of goodwill impairment, and we performed a test for potential impairment as of March 31, 2016. The completion of the impairment test resulted in the determination that our goodwill balance of $36.6 million was fully impaired. See Note 8—Intangible Assets and Goodwill.

Non-Operating Expenses

Interest Expense.     Interest expense primarily consists of the interest charges associated with our indebtedness including the amortization of debt issuance costs and the interest component of capital lease obligations. In 2017, we expect our interest expense to increase in absolute dollars compared to 2016 as we have incurred additional indebtedness. Additionally, our debt facilities accrue interest at floating rates and increases in the floating rates would result in higher interest expense.

Other (Income) Expense.     Other (income) expense includes changes in fair value for the ineffective portions of our cash flow hedges and has included interest and penalties associated with tax payments that were not paid in a timely manner.

Income Tax Expense (Benefit).     All of our business is conducted in the United States, and therefore income tax expense (benefit) consists of current and deferred income taxes incurred in U.S federal, state and local jurisdictions.

Net Income Available (Loss Attributable) to Stockholders

We determine the net income available (loss attributable) to stockholders by deducting from net loss the net loss attributable to non-controlling interests and redeemable non-controlling interests. The net loss attributable to non-controlling interests and redeemable non-controlling interests represents the investment fund investors’ allocable share in the results of operations of the investment funds that we consolidate.


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We have determined that the legal provisions in the contractual arrangements of the investment funds in which there is a non-controlling interest represent substantive profit-sharing arrangements, where the allocation to the partners differs from the stated ownership percentages. We have further determined that the appropriate methodology for attributing income and loss to the non-controlling interests and redeemable non-controlling interests each period is a balance sheet approach using the hypothetical liquidation at book value, or HLBV, method. Under the HLBV method, the amounts of income and loss attributed to the non-controlling interests and redeemable non-controlling 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 agreements of these funds, assuming the net assets of the respective investment funds were liquidated at recorded amounts determined in accordance with GAAP. The fund investors’ interest in the results of operations of these investment funds is determined as the difference in the fund investors’ claim under the HLBV method at the start and end of each reporting period, after taking into account any capital transactions between the fund and the fund investors. For all of our investment funds in which we have an equity interest, the application of HLBV is performed consistently. However, the results of that application and its impact on the income or loss allocated between us and the non-controlling interests and redeemable non-controlling interests depend on the respective funds’ specific contractual liquidation provisions. HLBV results are generally affected by, among other factors, the tax attributes allocated to the fund investors including tax bonus depreciation and investment tax credits, the amount of preferred returns that have been paid to the fund investors by the investment funds, and the allocation of taxable income or losses in a liquidation scenario. As of December 31, 2016, we had one operational investment fund that did not utilize the HLBV method to allocate gains and losses, as we own 100% of the equity of that fund and there is no non-controlling interest attributable to a fund investor.

The contractual liquidation provisions of our existing funds in which there is a non-controlling interest provide that the allocation percentages between us and the investor change, or “flip,” under certain circumstances. Prior to the point at which the allocation percentage flips, the investor is entitled to receive a contractually agreed upon allocation of the value generated by the solar energy systems. The allocation of cash payments received from customers may differ from the allocation of other tax benefits. Afterwards, we are entitled to receive the majority of the value generated by the solar energy systems. The difference between our current inverted lease structures and our current partnership structures that drives a significant impact on our results from the application of the HLBV method is how the flip point is determined.

The HLBV calculation is also impacted by the difference between the cash received by us from the investment funds and the carrying value of the solar energy systems contributed to the investment funds. The purchase price paid for solar energy systems by an investment fund is based on the fair market value, as determined by an independent appraiser. As we consolidate both the subsidiary that develops the solar energy systems and the investment fund, the sales of the solar energy systems are considered transactions under common control and are therefore reflected at their historical cost, or their carryover basis. Cash received in excess of the installed purchased solar energy systems’ carryover basis is treated as deemed distributions from the investment fund to us. In most cases, any excess of the purchase price over the carryover basis of the solar energy systems would result in allocations of income to us.

A portion of the solar energy systems purchased by, or contributed to, an investment fund are not installed at the time of purchase or contribution and therefore do not have any carryover basis allocated to them. Our wholly owned subsidiary has an obligation to purchase, install and provide the solar energy system equipment to an investment fund for any in-progress projects that were previously purchased by such fund. If our wholly owned subsidiary does not ultimately provide the investment fund with the solar energy systems that it purchased, it is required to refund the purchase price to the investment fund. In these specific cases, we determined that the portion of the cash purchase price paid by an investment fund that relates to in-progress projects should be recorded as a receivable by the investment fund, representing the investment fund’s right to receive solar panels and related equipment for solar energy systems that are installed after the project is purchased by the investment fund. Given that our subsidiary controls the investment fund, we have accounted for the receivable balance as a reduction in the investment fund’s members’ equity in accordance with GAAP. Initially this may result in allocations of losses amongst the partners, as the GAAP equity balance is less than the tax capital account. The allocations of such losses amongst the partners follow the contractual liquidation provisions of the partnership agreements. When such solar energy systems are subsequently installed, the systems are recorded at their carryover basis as a common control transaction and the receivable balance is eliminated. With the elimination of the receivable, the investment fund’s member’s equity is increased to the extent of the carrying amount of the assets contributed, which results in the reversal of a portion of the prior allocation of losses. In most cases, the reversal of such losses occurs within a short period of time, approximately three to six months. As discussed above, the difference between the receivable balance eliminated and the carryover basis of the installed solar energy systems is treated as deemed distributions from the investment fund to us, and as a result, that portion of the prior allocation of losses is not reversed over time.

We classify certain non-controlling interests with redemption features that are not solely within our control outside of permanent equity. The fair values of these redemption features are calculated by discounting the cash flows subsequent to the expected flip date of the respective investment funds. When the redemption value of our redeemable non-controlling interests exceeds their carrying value after attribution of income or loss under the HLBV method in any period, we make an additional attribution of income to our redeemable non-controlling interests such that their carrying value at least equals the redemption value.

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Results of Operations

The results of operations presented below should be reviewed in conjunction with the consolidated financial statements and related notes included elsewhere in this report.

The following table sets forth selected consolidated statements of operations data for each of the periods indicated.

 

Year Ended December 31,

 

 

2016

 

 

2015

 

 

2014

 

 

(In thousands)

 

Revenue:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Operating leases and incentives

$

105,353

 

 

$

61,150

 

 

$

21,688

 

Solar energy system and product sales

 

29,814

 

 

 

3,032

 

 

 

3,570

 

Total revenue

 

135,167

 

 

 

64,182

 

 

 

25,258

 

Operating expenses:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cost of revenue—operating leases and incentives

 

150,796

 

 

 

131,213

 

 

 

67,984

 

Cost of revenue—solar energy system and product sales

 

23,185

 

 

 

1,762

 

 

 

1,997

 

Sales and marketing

 

41,436

 

 

 

48,078

 

 

 

21,869

 

Research and development

 

2,979

 

 

 

3,901

 

 

 

1,892

 

General and administrative

 

81,802

 

 

 

92,664

 

 

 

78,899

 

Amortization of intangible assets

 

901

 

 

 

13,172

 

 

 

14,911

 

Impairment of goodwill and intangible assets

 

36,601

 

 

 

4,506

 

 

 

 

Total operating expenses

 

337,700

 

 

 

295,296

 

 

 

187,552

 

Loss from operations

 

(202,533

)

 

 

(231,114

)

 

 

(162,294

)

Interest expense

 

34,008

 

 

 

12,568

 

 

 

9,323

 

Other (income) expense

 

(1,437

)

 

 

(154

)

 

 

1,372

 

Loss before income taxes