SpaceX invests $90 million in SolarCity solar bonds

By Tim Newell, SolarCity’s Vice President of Financial Products

March 30, 2015

SpaceX is one of the world's most innovative companies.  Founded in 2002 by Elon Musk, SpaceX is revolutionizing space technology, with the ultimate goal of making humans a multi-planetary species.  It is the only private company to send a spacecraft into orbit and return it safely to Earth, and the only private company to fly supplies to and from the International Space Station. Soon it will begin launching astronauts into orbit.  

We are excited to announce that SpaceX has invested $90 million in solar bonds.  Solar bonds are issued – and backed – by SolarCity and powered by monthly solar payments from thousands of solar customers across the country.  SpaceX is effectively getting paid by the sun.

SpaceX CFO Bret Johnsen bought the bonds online, directly from SolarCity.   After reviewing the investment materials, it took less than 10 minutes to set up an account and order the bonds.

SpaceX purchased the bonds in the same manner, and on the same terms that SolarCity offers online to all U.S. investors, big or small, who can invest at least $1,000.

Investing in solar bonds directly through SolarCity offers investors like SpaceX the opportunity to earn significantly higher returns than those offered through comparable investments with the same maturities. 

At the same time, SolarCity is able to raise capital at lower cost. That capital then helps provide clean solar energy to homes, businesses and schools in communities across the country.

We’re thrilled – along with our solar customers – to be part of supporting SpaceX as it revolutionizes space travel.  And we are just as thrilled to be helping individual investors across the country achieve their own goals.


SolarCity has filed a registration statement (including a prospectus) with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) for offerings to which information in this communication relates. Before you invest, you should read the prospectus in that registration statement and other documents SolarCity has filed with the SEC for more complete information about SolarCity and the offerings. You may obtain these documents for free by visiting EDGAR on the SEC web site at Alternatively, you may obtain the prospectus relating to the Solar Bonds, and the pricing supplement relating to a particular series of Solar Bonds, at

Employee Spotlight: Professional Athletes at SolarCity, Part Two

By Liz Mead

March 24, 2015

Last year SolarCity added 4,000 new hires to our team, bringing our current workforce to over 9,500 employees nationwide. Those are 9,500 bright, determined individuals, from a diverse array of backgrounds. We’ve been celebrating our team and all their various talents by highlighting some of the SolarCity employees who have also held careers as professional athletes. Meet the next all-star in our series:


Mark Washington is a former linebacker. He played college football at Arizona State, and played in the NFL for the Arizona Cardinals, Minnesota Vikings, San Francisco 49ers, and Miami Dolphins. 

Role at SolarCity: Channel Account Manager

Hometown: I’ve lived all over! During my football career I lived in California, Colorado and Arizona. When I was young my parents saved up so our family could spend time living abroad and develop a global perspective. We lived in Senegal, Madrid, Málaga, Paris and Nice.

SolarCity Office: Thousand Palms, California

Started working with us: January 2015


Why did you join SolarCity?

This company lines up with the things that are important to me. I’ve always had a mind geared towards sustainability. Before this job I was on a weekly Bay Area television show about going green called Billions Rising.


What’s your favorite aspect of your job?

The part of this job that excites me the most is something I’m already familiar with: motivating. It’s a skill that comes naturally to me because of my time in sports. As a linebacker I led the defense; I’ve always had to be the leader, and set the example for the rest of my teammates. My job now is to train and motivate a team of salespeople, and that’s something I really enjoy doing.


Office culture in a few words:

Energetic, passionate and progressive.


How did you get involved in football?

My dad was a great athlete, and also a football player. I never had the opportunity to play in any of the youth leagues but football was something I’d always had an interest in. When we returned from living overseas, I told my dad, “I know you played ball and had all these amazing experiences…I’m tired of hearing about it, I want to experience it on my own!” He made a deal with me: if I took my SAT I could attend public school and play sports. So I took the SAT when I was 14 years old, enrolled at Long Beach Poly and started playing football my junior year. Things took off after that.


What’s been the most triumphant moment of your athletic career?

Winning the state championship in high school, and making it to the NFL. I didn’t have things easy growing up, so being able to overcome the obstacles in front of me and make it to that level was a huge accomplishment.


Was there a particularly tough challenge you had to overcome?

The number one challenge in football is fighting through adversity with injuries- knowing how to manage pain, recovery and rehabilitation, while still striving to surpass the competition and be the best player possible. In professional football your performance is constantly being evaluated, so keeping yourself fine-tuned like a racecar is important.


Do any of the skills you’ve acquired being a professional athlete help you on the job?

Persistence and motivation - those are skills I really honed during my football career. Mike Singletary, my coach while I played with the 49ers, taught me how to persevere when my mind was telling my body that it couldn’t go any further. Learning how to overcome that, how to dig deep and find that extra bit of motivation to keep going, is what will separate you from everyone else.


Any advice for those looking to succeed in their career, be it professional football or otherwise?

Never get comfortable- whether you’re currently satisfied with where you are in life or not. You can always better yourself.


We’re looking for trailblazers from every walk of life to join our fast-growing team. Check out the current opportunities on our career page.

Solar eclipse to test European grid

By Matt Collister

March 19, 2015


Image credit: Luc Viatour / via CC / cropped from original

Tomorrow the moon will cross into the line of sight between Europe and the sun. While people from Oslo to Istanbul make their way to work by car, bus or bicycle, a total solar eclipse will darken their skies for one hour.

Total solar eclipses are rare: One hasn’t passed over Europe since 1999. Once considered bad omens, eclipses have since come to be considered curiosities as we’ve begun to understand the mechanics of planetary and lunar orbits Thank you, Johannes Kepler.


A test for the European grid

For the first time, a total eclipse will pass over an area that harnesses the sun for a significant amount of its electricity supply. Solar accounts for about 3 percent of all electricity generation in continental Europe.

The European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E) calls the eclipse “an unprecedented test for Europe's electricity system." It will cause a sudden, mid-morning drop—and just as sudden of a rise—of 35,000 megawatts of solar power from the grid.

In a recent release, ENTSO-E assures Europeans that control rooms will be in close contact with one another throughout the morning and will be ready to respond quickly if needed.


A combination of response tactics

Barry Fischer and Ben Harack provide a deeper analysis of Transmission Systems Operators’ (TSOs) likely response on Opower’s “Outlier” blog - focusing on Germany, where solar accounts for approximately 6.9 percent of that country’s net electricity consumption.

What’s likely? Fischer and Harack expect a combination of tactics. They include releasing energy stored in hydroelectric dams, turning on quick-start natural gas plants and importing electricity from other countries. All of this should help balance out the dip in solar power—and help ensure the likelihood of continuous service.


Will consumers even notice?

So, just what will happen on Friday morning when your average European turns on a light or powers up a factory? 

Fischer and Harack think TSOs may ask consumers to minimize electrical use during the eclipse as a precaution. Opower, coincidentally, provides utilities and their customers with systems that help lower demand during peak times.

According to a recent piece in Mother Jones, however, most experts predict European consumers will experience no noticeable effect. This is thanks, largely, to the very foresight and months of planning by the utility companies. And that seems to bode well for consumers served by the growing solar power industry in the U.S., where utilities are likely paying attention to the European approach.

In case you’re wondering, the next total solar eclipse in the U.S. will be on the afternoon of August 21, 2017. It’ll cut a diagonal path across the lower 48 states, starting in Oregon and heading southeast toward the Carolinas and Georgia. Depending on your location, anywhere from 40 to 100 percent of the sun will be covered. It’ll be the first total solar eclipse to cross the continental U.S. since 1979.

Here’s how you can have dependable, clean power when the grid is down [Infographic]

By SolarCity

March 16, 2015

With the Northeastern United States breaking snowfall and low temperature records this winter, while the West Coast drags into its fourth year of historic drought, there’s no denying that extreme weather-related events are on the rise.  The first decade of the 21st century saw 3,496 natural disasters worldwide, nearly a fivefold increase over the 1970s. In circumstances like these, the ability to reliably maintain power is critical, allowing for faster response times, less property damage and, above all, fewer lives lost. Today we unveiled GridLogic, a microgrid service ensuring any community in the world vulnerable to power outages and high energy costs—including remote or island communities, hospitals and military bases—can have dependable, clean power when the grid is down:


Learn more about GridLogic and request a consultation here.

A 4GWh Day

By SolarCity

March 13, 2015

SolarCity customers generated 4GWh of solar electricity in one day earlier this week, scarcely a year after they hit 3GWh. The graph below tracks our collective progress and telegraphs this summer’s spike - imagine this curve when we hit our goal of one million customers. The best part? Our customers didn’t have to burn anything, use a drop of water, or emit an ounce of carbon dioxide to produce this power. This is what the future looks like.




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SolarCity's mission is to accelerate the mass adoption of clean energy. Follow solar’s progress here.

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