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SolarCity cuts IPO price, boost shares offered

The Associated Press

The rooftop solar installer SolarCity Corp. cut the price of its first shares to be issued to the public and increased the number of shares it will offer.

The change will reduce the expected proceeds of the offering to $92 million from $141 million.

The company now plans to issue 11.5 million shares at $8 per share, according to a regulatory filing Wednesday. It had hoped to offer 10.1 million shares at $13 to $15 per share. The company shares, under the ticker "SCTY," are expected to begin trading Thursday.

SolarCity offers homeowners a "solar lease" that allows them to pay for the panels and electricity that they generate over time, often for less than it would cost to buy electricity from a local utility.

The San Mateo, Calif., company has been growing rapidly, helped in large part by a collapse in the price of solar panels. While that has decimated the profits of solar panel makers, it has boosted the prospects of installers by allowing them to sell solar electricity for cheaper than grid power with no upfront investment.

But clean technology companies have been struggling lately, and that may have helped reduce the value of SolarCity's offering.

Wind power companies are laying off workers because a crucial subsidy is about to expire. Battery maker A123 Systems, once a hot startup, was recently bought out of bankruptcy by the Chinese auto parts conglomerate Wanxiang America Corp. And the biofuels company Amyris is trading at $3 per share, far below the $17 it was initially offered at in 2010. And of course solar panel makers, especially emerging ones, are failing at an alarming rate because of low panel prices.

One exception is Tesla Motors, the electric vehicle maker. The company was founded by PayPal and SpaceX founder Elon Musk. Musk is the chairman of SolarCity. He plans to purchase $15 million worth of SolarCity shares as part of the offering, according to documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.