June 11, 2019 / 11:25 PM / 3 months ago

UPDATE 1-U.S. rooftop solar company Sunnova Energy plans IPO -sources

(Adds details on company products, paragraphs 2,7)

By David French

June 11 (Reuters) - Sunnova Energy Corp, which finances and manages residential solar and storage systems across the United States, is planning a stock market flotation that could value the company at more than $1 billion, including debt, people familiar with the matter said.

The Houston-based company is one of largest U.S. residential rooftop solar firms, serving 22 U.S. states and territories, in an industry that remains fragmented because of different state regulations. Among its main competitors is Tesla Inc's SolarCity unit.

Sunnova has confidentially filed for an initial public offering that could come later this year, according to the sources.

The exact timing and valuation of the company will depend on market conditions, the sources added on condition of anonymity, as the information is confidential.

Sunnova declined to comment.

Since its establishment in 2012, Sunnova has received more than $2.5 billion of backing from private investors including Energy Capital Partners, Triangle Peak Partners, and Quantum Strategic Partners, which is advised by George Soros' investment firm.

The company leases equipment to consumers under long-term contracts, enabling them to avoid large initial outlays for the panels and batteries. It also offers loans to buy systems, as well as power purchase agreements, whereby homeowners buy power generated by the system at a fixed price. Sunnova works with a network of regional contractors to install its systems.

Despite differing state rules and permitting requirements, solar power is among the fastest-growing electricity generation sources in the United States, aided by advancements in the technology that have slashed the cost of producing energy.

According to a January 2019 report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), small-scale solar generating capacity is expected to increase by 44 percent over the next two years.

Solar panel costs in the United States have plummeted from around $70 per watt of electricity generated in 1980, to 36 cents per watt currently, according to energy consultancy Wood Mackenzie. (Reporting by David French in New York; Editing by Steve Orlofsky and Grant McCool)

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