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The Inflation Reduction Act would be ‘transformational for Americans,’ Sunrun CEO says

Sunrun CEO Mary Powell joins Yahoo Finance Live to discuss why the climate, energy, and health care bill would be monumental for U.S. climate action and the renewables industry.

Video Transcript

BRIAN CHEUNG: Well, staying on that theme, the Senate's Inflation Reduction Act does set aside $51 billion in tax credits for renewable energy. And our next guest says that could dramatically increase the accessibility of solar power for specifically lower income residents.

For more on this, let's bring in Mary Powell, Sunrun CEO. Mary, great to have you on the program this morning. Tell us about what you've been watching in that legislation. Again, it's not law yet, but as proposed, it could have a lot of implications for your industry and your company.

MARY POWELL: Yes, 100%. So nice to chat with you this morning, while we're sitting on the precipice of what could be the most impactful climate and inflation legislation of our lifetimes. So, yes, we're really excited about it. We really see it as fundamentally accelerating this customer-led revolution to a much more sustainable, independent, resilient, and affordable energy system for Americans.

So we've been doing a lot of work in this space of multifamily solar, in particular. We're really seeing that pick up, and we're seeing a lot more development in that area. And that is really bringing solar to so many lower income working class Americans. And so, as one example, this legislation will really turbocharge that kind of work and that kind of effort.

But overall, yes, it is really impactful in the context of, really, our mission, which is to get faster, better, and stronger in delivering Americans a more independent, clean, affordable, resilient energy system. So we're really pleased.

AKIKO FUJITA: Well, I mean, what kind of acceleration are we talking about, Mary? You mentioned-- we talked about the $51 billion credit. That is not just for solar. That's shared across renewable energy. And I wonder, when you think about, especially lower income family homes, I mean, what is specifically holding them back? And to what extent can the tax credit create that cushion that allows them to pay for cost savings down the line?

MARY POWELL: Yeah, so again, great question because, frankly, we are already doing a lot of work in those working class, first-time homebuyers market. So we've been doing a lot of that. And in fact, I think as you know, we beat our guidance this quarter. We are seeing unprecedented demand. But really, specifically, what this does is, it just makes it even more affordable for those customers to go solar by delivering a proposition which can deliver even greater savings for them.

Now, at the same time, the backdrop here also is, again, we're seeing energy inflation that is just really quite remarkable. We're seeing utility rates rising all across the country. And so those things, too, are conspiring to really have this be such a monumental time in this space to help customers really move quickly to a cleaner, more cost effective solution.

And, you know, again, we're partnering with Ford. We just launched an EV charger as a part of our program for customers. And this, too, is an example where we can help customers not just save money on the context of their utility bills, but save money on what they're paying at the pump. So it's really powerful time. The legislation is just packed with a lot of different kinds of programs and approaches that we believe will be transformational for Americans.

BRIAN CHEUNG: So, Mary, on that point, you kind of described who you're servicing right now. But I guess the question for affordability, like, what is your target? And what is the disparity between the affordability for these types of products, specifically for residential customers on the lower income side of things? Like, where are the pricing points right now? And where would they need to be to get more accessibility to the scale that we were talking about?

MARY POWELL: So, again, make no mistake. I mean, part of what this does is provide stability for the industry in the terms of the work that it's already doing with customers. So back to your question, Brian, the reality is, we are saving customers in some cases, you know, 24%. We're providing 24% cheaper energy for them than what their utility is providing in that area. So, again, we see that we're really providing a product that can help America really achieve household savings, which is what Americans really want to do right now.

So, again, this provides incredible stability with providing a decade long path in terms of the incentives, and then really allows the industry to get in and target, in particular, areas where we feel that the savings would be most appreciated, most leveraged for customers.

AKIKO FUJITA: Mary, I do have to ask you. Finally, we have seen a huge bump in the stock on the back of the introduction of this Inflation Reduction Act. But we did see Carson Block from Muddy Waters take a short position earlier this week, putting out a note, saying that this is a company that is founded on very shaky pillars. Specifically, he said, the value for equity holders is 80% to 90% lower than what the company tells the Street. How do you respond to that?

MARY POWELL: Just simply, Muddy Waters has it wrong. We actually gave a really in-depth reply to every single point, point by point, which actually wasn't easy to do because you don't get to be the leader in the nation in terms of solar and storage by not answering a lot of questions. So we've answered a lot of questions. We've worked with a lot of agencies over the years.

And so it was actually really quite straightforward to respond and make sure that they really saw how they fundamentally just-- they got it wrong. And again, as you can see from our results, we're getting faster, better, stronger on delivering for our customers. And we're providing even stronger financial results.

AKIKO FUJITA: Sunrun CEO Mary Powell, appreciate you hopping on the show today. Thanks so much for your time.

MARY POWELL: Thank you. Wonderful to chat.