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Tesla to end Home Depot partnership as it closes 12 solar facilities: report

Tesla is closing around a dozen of its solar facilities across nine states in the United States. The closures of the solar sites are reportedly part of the company’s ongoing restructuring, which is set to lay off 9% of Tesla’s workforce.

According to Reuters, the information comes from three internal company documents and statements from seven present and former Tesla employees. The documents accessed by the publication state that the latest cuts to the division come from a part of the company that was once SolarCity. Tesla’s partnership with Home Depot to push sales of its solar solutions and Powerwall 2 home batteries is set to be discontinued as well. According to Home Depot spokesman Stephen Holmes, its partnership with Tesla would last through the end of 2018, after which it would continue a partnership with competitor Sunrun in a number of its stores. 

An internal company list reviewed by Reuters added that after the closures of the solar facilities, about 60 solar installation sites would remain open. The facilities that will be closed are reportedly located in California, Texas, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Delaware, and Arizona. Solar customer service staff at call centers in Utah and Nevada have also been reportedly laid off by the company.

A Tesla Powerwall 2 displayed in a Home Depot outlet. [Credit: Xixu/Twitter]

With the Home Depot partnership terminated, Tesla will now push its solar solutions through its own stores. Personnel from the facilities that are set to be closed are being transferred to other sites as well. In a statement to Reuters, Tesla noted that the company still expects to grow its solar and battery business over time.

“We continue to expect that Tesla’s solar and battery business will be the same size as automotive over the long term. Tesla stores have some of the highest foot traffic of any retail space in the country,” the company said.

While stopping its partnership with Home Depot might come off as alarming, GTM Research analyst Austin Perea noted that the deal might have been discontinued as a means to reduce unnecessary expenses. While the Home Depot partnership accounted for a significant number of solar and energy sales for Tesla, third-party retail partnerships are among the most expensive means of generating sales in the solar industry. According to Perea, the cost of winning a customer through Home Depot could cost up to $7,000 per system, roughly 45% more compared to the national average of $4,000 per installation.

Tesla’s energy business is steadily growing, however. Last month, CTO JB Straubel noted in a statement to Fast Company that Tesla had installed 1 GWh worth of energy storage to date, an impressive figure that was reiterated by Elon Musk during the company’s 2018 Annual Shareholder Meeting. During the investors’ event, Musk noted that Tesla would be doing another 1 GWh project less than a year from now, with more growth set to happen within the next few years. As could be seen in Tesla’s 10-Q form for Q1 2018, the company’s energy and storage revenue increased 92% in the three months ended March 31, 2008 year-on-year, primarily due to the earnings of the 129 MWh Powerpack farm in South Australia, which generated $72.5 million on its own.

Tesla continues to deploy its energy solutions to several projects across the globe. Currently, Tesla is involved in roughly 11,000 projects in Puerto Rico, where it continues to help communities damaged by Hurricane Maria get back on their feet. Tesla is also starting on the beginnings of a virtual power plant in South Australia involving 50,000 residential homes fitted with Powerwall 2 home batteries and residential solar. 

Tesla to end Home Depot partnership as it closes 12 solar facilities: report
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