Vivint Solar expands PPAs into Massachusetts

Vivint Solar, a subsidiary of Utah-based Vivint, Inc., just expanded its residential solar power-purchase agreement services throughout Massachusetts. This comes just a few months after the company launched in the Boston region.

The move was made in response to demand that is nearly too high, according to Tanguy Serra, Vivint Solar’s president. “Demand for this is pretty clear for all states. We’re not targeting a typical demographic. The product is savings and power and we’ve had a massive response,” he said.

Through Vivint, homeowners can get access to solar power with no up-front payment, Serra explained. “We sell power cheaper than people could buy from local utilities. From utilities we’ve a had a great response,” he said.

Vivint, originally a home security company, has since expanded into more home services, including home automation and energy monitoring and energy efficiency improvements as well as solar. This has allowed them to retain existing customers and offer additional services to them. “Every time Vivint’s added a new offering it’s existing consumers have wanted to add the new features,” said Brendon Merkley, Vivint Solar’s chief operating officer. “I think we’re seeing the same with solar, people want to add it in [to their other services].”

The same rings true for new Vivint customers that choose a power purchase agreement. “Customers who wanted solar, then they want to add in other services,” Merkley said.

At this point Vivint is offering its PPAs in California, Hawaii, Massachusetts and New Jersey thanks to a $75 million tax-equity fund developed by USBancorp. The company plans to increase its operations in certain markets like Northern California and Hawaii this year, Merkley said.

Vivint uses Enphase microinverters for its residentail solar nstallations, which provide a greater level of performance in less than optimal conditions, because each module produces to the best of its ability as opposed to a string inverter system, where each module’s production is affected by the low-performing module in the installation.

The microinverters also report performance data on each module in the system, via the home’s broadband Internet connection. “We know in real time, if there are any issues,” Serra said. At this point a Vivint security system uses a wireless network to communicate, but because of the amount of data produced by a microinverter-connected PV array it travels through broadband. Though new generations could utilize wireless networks, he said.