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Tesla sells solar lease, PPA securitization

By Max Adams
06 Nov 2017

Tesla priced an ABS offering backed by solar lease and power purchase agreements originated by its SolarCity subsidiary late last week, selling the bonds at the tight end of price guidance.

Credit Suisse arranged the $340m TES 2017-1 deal. The $265m senior ‘A’ class was priced at 200bp over interpolated swaps, the tight end of the 200bp-215bp range given at price guidance early last week. The $75m ‘B’ class was priced at a yield of 7.75%, also at the lower end of price guidance, which was 7.75%-8%.

The transaction brings total solar ABS volume this year to six deals from four issuers — SolarCity, Mosaic, Dividend Solar and Sunnova. The most recent deal was a $307.5m transaction from Mosaic that was backed by loans tied to rooftop solar installations. That was priced on October 17.

The Tesla offering comes at a time of uncertainty for both the company and the wider solar energy industry. The electric vehicle and clean energy company, led by Silicon Valley entrepreneur Elon Musk, reported a loss of $619m for the third quarter, its highest ever quarterly loss.

The company also revealed that it is still struggling to produce its mass market Model 3 electric sedan. Just 260 of the cars were delivered during the quarter, compared to the 1,500 that Tesla had projected. The company also announced a wave of layoffs from within both the Tesla and SolarCity units in September.

Meanwhile, the solar industry is grappling with the potential impact of tariffs and other trade remedies on imported solar components that the International Trade Commission recommended on October 31. The commission’s chairman, Rhonda Schmidtlein, recommended a 10% tariff on the first 500 megawatts of imported solar cells and a 30% tariff for on all solar cells thereafter, according to GlobalCapital'ssister publication Power Finance & Risk. President Donald Trump must make a decision on the recommendations before the end of January.

However, industry participants said tariffs are not likely to have a negative impact on the rooftop solar segment.

“In terms of impact, the residential market is less impacted than the [commercial and industrial] sector. [The recommendations] really only impact markets that are on the fringe of solar being economical,” Eric White, CEO of Dividend Solar told GlobalCapital, adding that solar modules account for just 13% of the total system cost of residential rooftop solar systems.

If Trump decides to implement tariffs, they are likely to be a bigger concern for the utility scale and commercial and industrial (C&I) sectors.

Still, the industry is united in its opposition to the tariffs. Mosaic CEO Billy Parish published an op-ed in The Washington Examiner on November 1 stating that the recommendations would kill solar construction jobs.

In a statement to GlobalCapital, meanwhile, the Solar Energy Industry Association said: “The negative impact of tariffs would be far-reaching and felt across the entire solar industry. By increasing the cost of solar, demand will inevitably decline and tens of thousands of jobs will be lost. This will harm every solar segment from financiers to manufacturers, developers, and installers. And as a result, ancillary services and industries also will take a hit.”

By Max Adams
06 Nov 2017