Vivint Solar Inc., the residential solar system installer, went public this week. Shares opened at $17.01. Vivint Solar installed 15% of U.S. rooftop solar-power systems in the second quarter (up from 8% in the first quarter) and plans to do more. Vivint’s CEO Greg Butterfield said the company has “little interest in following SolarCity’s lead in embarking on solar-panel manufacturing.”
By SolarCity, of course, Butterfield means Elon Musk’s SolarCity, which until now was the only US-based publicly traded solar installer. SolarCity just announced a deal to open its own solar-panel factory near Buffalo. And it just bought solar-panel maker Silevo in June for $200 million. The plan at SolarCity is to scale up and lower the cost of the panels and systems. Maybe Musk will figure a way to power Teslas with them. Vivint Solar buys most of its panels from China. Vivint’s focus on installation is what saw the jump to 15% market share.