Solar stocks have had a hard week as energy markets moved up and down ahead of earnings season. Complicating matters is renewable energy giant SunEdison's (SUNEQ) violent swings as traders speculate on the likelihood and timing of a potential bankruptcy. Until SunEdison's situation is resolved, it may be a rough slog for companies trying to convince investors there's real value in the industry.
There was also some good news during the past week. Here's what you need to know.
SolarCity gets financing for new energy solutions
Late last week, SolarCity (SCTY.DL) announced it had received $150 million in financing for commercial solar and battery storage systems. The facility is non-recourse to SolarCity and was provided by Credit Suisse. It also added $188 million in tax equity from Bank of America Merrill Lynch, bolstering its coffers in the core business.
Commercial solar has been difficult to finance, in part because businesses that are counterparties often have lower credit ratings than the utilities or homeowners that solar companies usually deal with. So this much in financing is encouraging for SolarCity.
The energy storage piece is another growth opportunity for SolarCity, and could help the company offer a complete solution to businesses.
Massachusetts saves solar, for now
A solar cap that was reached in Massachusetts has been raised, which is good news for SolarCity and Sunrun (RUN -8.16%). The governor signed a bill this week that raises the cap of net metering projects from 4% of the utility's load for private projects to 7%, and from 5% to 8% for municipal and government projects.
Some small changes were also made to net metering and the fees utilities can charge to cover fixed costs, but this is a big win for the solar industry right now. However, it's still a temporary fix, and Massachusetts will probably need to find a long-term net metering solution in the next few years, when the new cap is reached.
SunEdison says, "It's all good"
In the latest twist of its strange financial saga, SunEdison said this week that an audit committee investigation found there was "no substantial evidence to support a finding of fraud or willful misconduct of management, other than with respect to the conduct of one former non-executive employee."
But the investigation did find that forecasting lacked sufficient controls and processes, cash forecasts were overly optimistic, and there weren't sufficient controls and processes in managing cash flows. In essence, SunEdison didn't find anything illegal, but did find that the business was being mismanaged, and that's really the core problem long-term.
SunEdison also released documents showed to potential creditors should it need debtor-in-possession financing. You can find the full presentation here, but it shows that SunEdison will have a negative cash balance by summer if it can't get new financing, and even shows plans for bankruptcy. If you're holding out hope for a turnaround, this may dampen your spirits a bit.