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SolarCity Raises 2014 Install Forecast as Demand Climbs

SolarCity Corp., the biggest U.S. solar power provider by market value, raised its installation forecast for the year after demand for its rooftop systems jumped 78 percent in the first quarter.

The company installed 82 megawatts of solar panels in the quarter, up from 46 megawatts a year earlier, San Mateo, California-based SolarCity said today in a statement. It boosted its 2014 forecast by 25 megawatts, to 500 megawatts to 550 megawatts.

SolarCity installs rooftop solar panels at little to no upfront cost to customers who sign long-term contracts to buy the power. This model is propelling the fastest-growing part of the U.S. solar market. The company also issued a 2015 forecast for the first time, expecting as much as 1 gigawatt of installations.

Installation in the quarter slipped 20 percent from the prior quarter. That may be due in part to winter weather in the Northeast, Philip Shen, an analyst at Roth Capital Partners LLC in Newport Beach, California, said in a research note today before the results were announced.

The decline was offset by stronger bookings, which climbed 34 percent to 136 megawatts.

SolarCity’s net loss was $24.1 million, or 26 cents a share, compared with a loss of $40.9 million, or 54 cents, a year earlier.

The loss, excluding noncontrolling interests, was 82 cents, one cent more than the average of nine analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

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