What Are SolarCity’s Plans in Florida?
Elon Musk and SolarCity Corp (NASDAQ:SCTY) are looking to expand in Central Florida following the presidential election-day defeat of a state amendment that critics feared would have stifled solar energy expansion in the state.
The amendment would have limited the ability to allow solar companies to gain a foothold in the Sunshine State, detractors argued. Backers of the amendment however, said that the electric utilities-backed initiative would target “unfair subsidies” for the solar power industry. (Source: “Elon Musk’s Solar City expanding in Clermont,” Orlando Sentinel, December 1, 2016.)
In the end, the amendment failed with 49% voting against, while it needed a 60% approval to pass. This has sparked renewed interest from SolarCity, as the threat has apparently receded for the time being.
“It was meant to kill solar,” said SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive to the Orlando Sentinel. “We are fortunate enough that the residents of Florida were smart enough to figure out it was a tactic that would take their choice away and limit competition.”
SolarCity, a subsidiary of Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA), has 54 employees in Clermont, Florida, including installers, salespeople, and other support employees. With the new expansion, that number could rise to the hundreds, Rive said.
A typical operations center employs about 100 people, which is what SolarCity plans to open near Orlando and spread into other areas of Florida. One thing to note about Florida regarding SolarCity and other solar power companies is that the law only allows utility companies to sell power directly to consumers. In other states, SolarCity—which is not a utility company—could do so directly. (Source: “SolarCity to open Florida operations facility,” The Mercury News, December 1, 2016.)
This is overall a big win for SolarCity, Tesla, and Elon Musk, as some worry that the political trend to the right could hurt the green tech producer. TSLA stock was down three percent, along with a great many other tech stocks on Thursday, but, otherwise, Musk has enjoyed a victory in Florida with this SolarCity expansion.