SunPower ceases residential installations, lays off 1000 – Electrek

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SunPower (Nasdaq: SPWR) just sent an email to its employees saying that it will “wind down” residential solar installations and lay off 1,000 employees.

SunPower is one of the largest residential solar installers in the US. A SunPower spokesperson told me this morning that the company has filed an 8-K, and principal executive officer Tom Werner sent an email to all employees that said in order for the company to achieve “financial viability”:

[W]e are winding down our SunPower Residential Installation (SPRI) locations and closing SunPower Direct sales. We are also reducing our workforce to better align our business with our new focus. With this shift, we will reduce our workforce by approximately 1,000 people in the coming days and weeks. 

As of January 1, 2023, the company had 4,710 full-time employees.

Going forward, Werner wrote that the company’s plans are as follows:

After a short transition period, all pipeline operations from pre-installation through system activation will be handled by Blue Raven Solar, full-service installation partners, and our trusted network of SunPower-certified dealers — all who meet our standards of integrity, design, quality, and customer service. As we make this transition over the next month, we are dedicated to handling our customer experience with the highest levels of care and with minimal impact on timelines.  

Moving forward, SunPower will focus our efforts on serving our best-in-class Dealer Network and installation partners. We plan to continue to invest in our New Homes business, which continues to grow. We will still manage ongoing customer service needs, including operations and maintenance (O&M), and will continue to honor our Complete Confidence warranty. 

Electrek’s Take

SunPower, which is a top 10 residential solar installer by US market share, has had a rough ride in recent months.

It replaced its top executive earlier this year and defaulted on a credit agreement in late 2023. It had to raise $200 million to ease financial difficulties and announced restructuring plans to reduce costs in January.

Just yesterday, SunPower reported misstatements in its results for fiscal year 2022 in a regulatory filing. It expects a $15-$25 million decrease in income.

Wood Mackenzie reported in March that seven of the top 10 residential solar installers lost market share in 2023, and that includes SunPower.

The result is that it’s not only employees who are getting hurt, but customers are, too.

A SunPower customer in Pennsylvania contacted us earlier this week to tell us that he’d been working with SunPower and its installation partner, Ad Energy, to have rooftop solar installed. Ad Energy only installed 12 out of 42 panels on his roof at the end of 2023 and then disappeared, along with the customer’s more than $60,000 payment for his rooftop solar system.

The New Jersey-based Ad Energy’s phone number is no longer in service. SunPower distanced itself from Ad Energy, and told the customer in writing in an email that “SunPower is not party to the transaction between Ad Energy and their customers, and as such, we cannot absorb the associated costs.”

Its executive escalations specialist went on to say that “SunPower will not cover the cost of installing the remaining panels for your solar system. Any remaining work would be an out-of-pocket cost.” I’ve asked the SunPower spokesperson about this and am waiting to hear back.

SunPower’s announcement is a real blow for the US residential solar industry.

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