Big SolarCity CT announcement clouded by I.P.O. turmoil

The timing could have been better — a lot better — for SolarCity‘s big Connecticut expansion announcement.

A star-studded cast that included Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Dan Esty and SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive announced a move to larger quarters in New Britain and the addition of 15 jobs to the local workforce, now at 45.

Meanwhile, the company has been in the midst of a national mini-tempest over its initial pubic offering.

In the last two days, the I.P.O. was delayed. Reports indicated that investors felt the shares were going to be priced too high. Ultimately the share price was slashed to nearly half of what had been expected. The I.P.O. did get underway this morning, with investors pushing prices up somewhat.

“Interest in solar installations remains strong and continues to grow, as costs are coming down and the technology continues to improve,” said DEEP spokesman Dennis Schain in an email, also pointing out that the Solar Energy Industries Association reported Wednesday that installations of solar electric systems in the third quarter were up 44 percent over the same period in 2011.

“Connecticut is emerging as a national leader in the deployment of solar and other renewable energy systems — at costs that are among the lowest in the nation,” Schain said.

The California-based SolarCity installs solar systems using a solar lease model in which home and business owners pay the company for solar power at rates generally lower than utility prices. In the less-than-a-year it has operated in Connecticut, SolarCity says it has installed 200 residential and commercial solar systems.

The company entered the market after state’s solar incentive programs were overhauled as the result of legislation passed in 2011. The solar business had grown stagnant here after solar incentive money ran out. New models make the funding flow steadier.

Nationally, the solar industry has stumbled — mainly panel manufacturers — since the high-profile Solyndra episode in 2011 when the panel manufacturer went bankrupt after receiving federal funding.