SolarCity Corporation was a publicly traded company headquartered in Fremont, California that sold and installed solar energy generation systems as well as other related products and services to residential, commercial and industrial customers. The company was founded on July 4, 2006, by Peter and Lyndon Rive, the cousins of Tesla, Inc. CEO Elon Musk. Tesla acquired SolarCity in 2016, at a cost of approximately $2.6 billion and reorganized its solar business into Tesla Energy.
SolarCity heavily focused on door-to-door sales of leased systems, where customers would pay no upfront costs, but agree to purchase the power generated by those panels from the company for 20 years. The business model became the most popular in the US and made the company the largest residential solar installer, but gave SolarCity over $1.5 billion in debt by the time of the acquisition in 2016 and was criticized by consumer advocates and government regulators.
Prior to acquisition by Tesla, the two companies had a close relationship. SolarCity offered free charging to Tesla Roadster owners at its charging stations, SolarCity became one of the first installers of Tesla's Powerwall home energy storage batteries, and with Elon Musk serving as the chairman of SolarCity.