February 4, 2014 / 7:30 PM / 5 years ago

Solar financing company Sunrun buys panel installer

LOS ANGELES, Feb 4 (Reuters) - Solar financing company Sunrun said on Tuesday that it has acquired a residential solar installation company, gaining a foothold in a part of the industry dominated by rival SolarCity Corp

The deal with privately held Mainstream Energy Corp includes residential installer REC Solar, solar equipment distributor AEE Solar and mounting systems business SnapNrack. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The acquisition will enable Sunrun to broaden its customer reach and help it lower the cost of solar systems, Sunrun Chief Executive Lynn Jurich said in an interview.

The deal comes as SolarCity has been on an acquisition tear. Since August, the Elon Musk-backed solar financing and installation company has announced acquisitions of direct marketing company Paramount Solar, mounting systems maker Zep Solar and financial technology company Common Assets.

Sunrun, which is private, has grown rapidly since its 2007 start by offering homeowners the opportunity to put solar panels on their rooftops with no upfront cost. Sunrun pays to install the panels, and homeowners then pay Sunrun a monthly fixed rate for the energy they consume.

The company has raised funds from the likes of U.S. Bancorp , J.P. Morgan and others to finance its solar systems.

Sunrun competitors SolarCity, Sungevity and others offer their customers similar financing arrangements.

To put up the systems, Sunrun works with a national network of solar installers, which Jurich said will not change with the company’s acquisition of Mainstream’s REC Solar.

SolarCity, in contrast, performs its own installations.

“We would anticipate that we will perform a minority of the installations ourselves,” Jurich said.

Sunrun investors include Foundation Capital, Accel Partners, Madrone Capital Partners and Sequoia Capital.

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