New SunPower CEO Wants Buying Solar as Easy as Amazon Purchases

The new CEO of SunPower Corp. -- a veteran of Amazon.com Inc. -- wants to make the rooftop solar-buying process easier for homeowners.

“We have a chance to really innovate on the customer experience,” said SunPower Chief Executive Officer Peter Faricy in an interview Wednesday. “Until we make getting solar as simple as buying a book on Amazon, we’re not going to stop.”

While interest in residential solar is surging in the U.S. with climate change a threat to the power grid, only about 3% of the country’s homes are equipped with panels. Rooftop-solar companies have attributed the market penetration partly to lengthy permitting processes. Plus, selling rooftop systems is often low-tech and many companies relied on door-to-door sales before the pandemic.

SunPower recently shifted its focus from making panels to selling panels as well as storage. Faricy, whose background is in sales, joined SunPower last month and thinks the solar business is ripe for digital innovation. He said the sales process reminds him of home-buying in the 1970s: there are a lot of manual steps and you don’t know when the project will be completed.

SunPower deployed 77 megawatts of residential solar in the first quarter, up from 70 megawatts during the same period last year, according to a company spokeswoman.

Faricy previously served as chief executive officer of global direct-to-consumer for Discovery Inc. and also spent 13 years at Amazon.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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