Sunrun’s exclusive deal with Comcast to market and sell rooftop solar services will provide a business boost for both companies, Lynn Jurich, Sunrun’s CEO, said.
In addition to bringing new customers to Sunrun, an earlier year-long pilot test showed that the partnership also drives improved customer metrics at Comcast.
“What Comcast found is that when they marketed Sunrun to their customer base, and customers chose to go solar, it improved their customer satisfaction scores [and] their customer retention,” she said.
Sunrun, whose stock was up almost 10% Thursday afternoon, and Comcast will be trying to expand on those findings as they move ahead on a 40-month program whereby Sunrun will serve as the exclusive residential solar energy provider for the cable operator, which will be marketing Sunrun’s services (in bill inserts and other standard acquisition channels) in selected markets.
Most Sunrun customers are on board for the long-term. Jurich said most customers go with an option that requires no money upfront for the solar energy system (managed and maintained by Sunrun) in exchange for a 20-year contract to buy electricity from Sunrun, with customers typically getting a 20% discount from their current electric bill. That contract transfers to new home owners if and when the original customer moves.
“They aren’t taking on any operating risk and they’re getting cheaper power,” Jurich said of the customer model, noting that Sunrun has about 150,000 customers. “From our perspective, it’s not a niche product."
While the initial launch is focused on Comcast’s marketing of Sunrun’s services, the agreement also contemplates the idea of Sunrun marketing Xfinity Home, Comcast’s home security and automation service that has signed on about 1 million subscribers.
Comcast is the first cable operator to partner up with Sunrun.
Sunrun works with several other market verticals and “grid services” business models that extend beyond the baseline production and consumption of home solar energy.
One such Sunrun partner, National Grid, a U.K.-based company that operates utilities in areas such as New York and Boston, also enables customers store excess power in home batteries and sell it back to the utility for added reliability and capacity, Jurich said.
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