SunPower CEO Sees Potential for 100-Million Home Rooftop Market

The U.S. rooftop solar market has room to grow by more than 3,200%, according to SunPower Corp.’s new chief executive officer.

“There’s about 100 million people in the U.S. that, if they switched over to solar tomorrow, would save money,” Peter Faricy, SunPower’s CEO who’s an Amazon.com Inc. veteran, said in an interview Thursday. But “consumers are confused about how much they’re saving.”

His comments underscore how even as rooftop solar has become mainstream, it has only begun to scratch the surface of the potential market. While rooftop installations in the U.S. are surging, only about 3% of American homes are equipped with solar compared with more than 20% in Australia.

Faricy said he’s focused on simplifying the U.S. solar-buying process, which he sees as confusing, laborious and heavy in paperwork and phone calls. He also wants to speak in the language of consumers, who are focused on saving money amid rising energy prices.

The energy industry “is very inward-facing and very kilowatt-centric,” Faricy said. “But it’s not what consumers talk about.”

SunPower, once concerned with making panels, is now concentrating on selling solar and storage to residential and commercial customers, as well as deploying energy-management software -- significant growth areas. Faricy most recently served as CEO of global direct-to-consumer at Discovery Inc. and spent 13 years at Amazon, including as vice president leading the Amazon Marketplace.

“Most of the solar apps I have used do a great job of reporting the facts, but are not action-oriented,” he said. “Look for us to become the innovators to help consumers more actively manage energy.”

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