By Guy Page
iSun has acquired Vermont solar installer SunCommon for $40 million, according to an iSun statement published yesterday on Businesswire.
iSun is a solar EV-charging company bought in 2021 by Peck Electric, a Vermont-based company that moved into solar power in 2013 “only after we were certain of the sustainable business model,” according to a statement on its website.
This certainty was acquired in part by the two founders and current co-Presidents of SunCommon, President James Moore and Duane Peterson. As leaders of the Vermont Public Interest Research Group, they spearheaded the effort to pass legislation in 2009 (H446) requiring Vermont utilities to pay high, guaranteed subsidized rates for solar power generation. Peterson is still on the VPIRG Board of Directors. After the law was passed, they worked with VPIRG to establish the feed-in-tarriff program, and, in 2012, founded SunCommon. Details of the VPIRG-Suncommon connection appear in its company bio on Wikipedia:
The company originated with advocacy group Vermont Public Interest Research Group (VPIRG), which in September 2010 started a program to install solar power and hot water systems for homeowners. To meet the demand for clean energy, a new entity was needed that could take in outside capital and scale up, so Duane and James launched SunCommon. SunCommon was officially launched in March 2012 after finding funding via private investment; when it began operations, it had 16 employees and annual revenue of about $2 million. SunCommon installed its 1,000th residential solar system in December 2014, and by late 2016 had reached 2,000 installations, with a workforce of about 100. Its 2015 revenue was about $22 million.
In May of 2018, SunCommon expanded into New York after merging with Hudson Solar. As of March 2020, SunCommon employed 189 people and added over 80 megawatts of solar to the electric grids of Vermont and New York. This number includes over 8,000 residences and 37 Community Solar Arrays.
VPIRG also was the lead lobbying organization responsible for the Vermont Senate’s February, 2010 vote to not renew the license of Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant. Vermont Yankee supporters noted at the time that the nuclear plant offered plentiful, low-cost, reliable, carbon-free power. Vermont Yankee offered wholesale electricity at 4-6 cents/kilowatt-hour, while solar tariffs guaranteed wholesale power costs as high as 30 cents and, while lower today, still in double-digits. As of this month, Vermont’s average electric rate is 18.38 cents/kilowatt-hour, highest in the U.S. except for Hawaii, Alaska, California, and three other New England states.
The transaction includes:
- Consideration of $24,034,621 in cash and $15,965,379 in stock; provides $2.5 million of the consideration directly to SunCommon employees, establishes a stock ownership plan for all iSun employees, and a $1.5 million working capital infusion.
- projected doubling of iSun revenue for 2021.
- Alignment of software, shared services and vendor base will save $1.25 million in year-1 and reduce costs going forward.
“This is a milestone moment for iSun,” stated Jeffrey Peck, iSun Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “Not only does this acquisition deliver on our promise to investors to execute our residential strategy, but also it honors our 50-year legacy of helping accelerate the wide-spread adoption of life-enhancing technological innovations. The electrification of everything is going to rapidly increase energy demand across all sectors.”
“As a market-solution to the climate crisis, scale matters. Joining iSun allows SunCommon to accelerate our growth plans and delight our customers with clean energy solutions that improve their lives and protect our planet. This is a great day for SunCommon, our employees, customers and investors,” said Moore.
His fellow co-president Peterson remarked, “We’re proud of what we have accomplished, and are happy to recognize our people by ensuring that they directly benefit from this partnership. And this is only the beginning. We intend to create the nation’s largest values-led clean energy business.”
Both iSun and SunCommon’s respective Boards of Directors unanimously approved the Definitive Agreement, which includes a cash payment of $24,034,621 and $15,965,379 in stock ($2.5 million of the consideration will be granted directly to SunCommon employees), $1.5 million working capital infusion and additional earnout provisions, subject to customary purchase price adjustments and customary seller representations and warranties and indemnification obligations.
In 2020, SunCommon generated approximately $33.1 million in revenue with gross margins of approximately 30.2% and maintained customer acquisition costs well below those advertised by other residential solar market leaders.
Peck will serve as the CEO of the combined organizations, and Peterson and Moore will serve as co-Presidents of SunCommon. The existing iSun Board of Directors will remain as currently constructed.