San Mateo-based SolarCity announced Wednesday it plans to acquire Zep Solar for roughly $158 million. Zep Solar, based in San Rafael, provides racking and mounting hardware and has been one of SolarCity’s leading suppliers. The sale should help SolarCity further lower costs and improve installation time.
The acquisition is SolarCity’s second as a public company; it acquired Paramount Solar last month. Zep will operate as an independent business unit of SolarCity; after the close of the acquisition, SolarCity and Zep plan to market Zep products in fast-growing markets like Australia and Japan. Zep CEO Mike Miskovsky will stay on board and run the new business unit.
“When it comes to racking and mounting, Zep was a massive improvement,” said SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive in an interview. “Installation time went from two to three days to 1 day.”
Zep’s big claim to fame is that it eliminated rails, and uses the module itself as the mounting element, which drastically reduces “balance of system” costs that can typically account for 30 percent of the overall cost of a solar installation.