Constellation Buys Stake in Astrum Solar to Put Panels on Homes
Constellation Energy Group Inc. (CEG), owner of Baltimore’s utility, bought a minority stake in closely held Astrum Solar Inc. to offer solar installation services to its 1 million retail power customers.
Astrum, based in Annapolis Junction, Maryland, is the largest residential solar installer on the East Coast and plans to build as many as 2,000 systems this year, Chief Executive Officer Vadim Polikov said in an interview. Astrum didn’t disclose terms in a statement today.
Constellation already develops solar power systems for commercial and industrial customers and has partnered with Astrum on residential solar in Maryland. Buying a stake in the installer will help it quickly reach additional markets, said Andrew Good, senior vice president of corporate strategy at Baltimore-based Constellation.
“Our customers have a strong desire to add solar,” Good said in an interview. “We can now provide solar solutions much faster than if we tried to grow it internally.”
Large-scale solar projects for utilities and industrial customers helped boost total U.S. installations 66 percent in the first quarter to 252 megawatts, according to the Solar Energy Industry Association, a trade group based in Washington. Residential system installs were flat at about 62 megawatts.
Incentives for smaller systems have made New Jersey the second-largest U.S. market for solar after California, and Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York are considering increasing their subsidies for solar.
“In the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions, there’s been a strong drive to promote distributed solar,” Astrum’s Polikov said. “We can scale quickly to take advantage of those markets as they grow.”
Constellation agreed last month to buy closely held StarTex Power, a Houston electricity service provider with about 170,000 customers in Texas. Those customers may also be targets for Astrum Solar, Constellation’s Good said.
Constellation rose 29 cents, or 0.8 percent, to $37.43 at 10:53 a.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading.
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