Blackstone Looks to the Light

Blackstone wants to “provide clean, efficient solar energy" to its portfolio of commercial and industrial properties.

Jan Newman, Vivint

By Scott Baltic, Contributing Editor

Vivint Solar, one of the nation’s leading providers of residential solar energy systems, will collaborate with Blackstone to “provide clean, efficient solar energy to Blackstone’s portfolio of commercial and industrial properties,” Vivint, of Lehi, Utah, announced last Thursday.

“We look forward to exploring, with Blackstone, the various opportunities that exist for us to bring solar energy to its commercial and industrial portfolio of properties,” Jan Newman, Vivint Solar’s vice president of business development, said in a release. “To work with the world’s largest private equity firm in our efforts to expand into the commercial and industrial market is an exciting position for us.”

“Blackstone is excited to work with Vivint Solar to explore possibilities within our portfolio,” Don Anderson, Blackstone’s chief sustainability officer, added. “We’ve watched Vivint Solar grow over the past few years and look forward to bringing the benefits of solar power to our family of companies.”

Vivint Solar declined to comment further on the collaboration.

The previous day, Vivint Solar had announced that it had entered into its first solar commercial and industrial investment fund, to which an investor reportedly has committed $150 million, enabling Vivint to finance energy-efficient commercial and industrial solar projects. The two moves take the company, which previously had worked in the residential sector only, decisively into the commercial and industrial realms.

As big a deal as this potentially is for Vivint Solar, it’s nonetheless still in the family. The company began as a division of home-security and -automation company Vivint Inc., the majority stake in which was bought by Blackstone in late 2012. The solar division was spun off through an IPO this past October.

Financial media outlet described Vivint Solar as number two in the distributed residential solar business, behind only Solar City Corp. It noted that while iconic high-rises like Blackstone’s Willis Tower in Chicago aren’t likely to see solar panels on their roofs, the size of Blackstone’s mega-portfolio should provide a choice of demonstration projects of a suitable size.