Sunnova Energy sees 30 percent increase in customer base in 2019

Sunnova residential solar-001

Sunnova Energy‘s financial results for the fourth quarter and full-year 2019 show a customer base increase of 30 percent and an increase in storage attachment rates due to customers seeking more resilient sources of energy to combat severe weather events and unreliable electricity grids. Sunnova SunSafe is now available in 16 markets. But despite the growth, Sunnova incurred another net loss of $133.4 million for the year, compared to a net loss of $68.4 million in 2018.

“In 2019, we saw escalating growth in our contracted customer value, launched new product offerings and entered new markets, saw a surge in storage attachment rates, continued to build out our differentiated dealer base, and met or exceeded our 2019 operational and financial targets,” said William J. Berger, CEO of Sunnova.

Sunnova closed on a number of important financial transactions in 2019 as well, such as its IPO, new tax equity facilities, a new credit facility for its leases and PPAs, a comprehensive amendment to the credit facility for its loan products, and a safe harbor credit facility to fund the purchase of inventory to qualify for a 30 percent federal investment tax credit.

“In addition, we opened 2020 with the closing of a $412.5 million asset-backed securitization at some of the strongest terms the industry has seen, which is a testament to our business model and focus on customer service,” Berger added. “With higher than expected growth in late 2019, which has continued into the new year, our outlook continues to improve, supporting an increase in our 2020 guidance.”

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Berger says they foresee their asset base growing at a higher rate than projected in the third quarter of 2019 while maintaining focus on recurring cash flows from operations.

2020 Guidance

Management announces updates to 2020 full-year guidance as follows:

  • Increase guidance on customer additions from 23,000 – 27,500 to 28,000 – 30,000;
  • Increase guidance on Adjusted EBITDA from $55 million – $60 million to $58 million – $62 million;
  • Increase guidance on customer principal payments received from solar loans, net of amounts recorded in revenue from $30 million – $35 million to $32 million – $36 million;
  • Increase guidance on customer interest payments received from solar loans from $15 million – $20 million to $17 million – $21 million; and
  • Increase guidance on Adjusted Operating Cash Flow from $5 million – $15 million to $10 million – $20 million

Year-over-Year Results

Sunnova’s total number of customers was 78,600 as of December 31, 2019, an increase of 18,300 compared to December 31, 2018.

Revenue increased to $131.6 million, or by $27.2 million, for the year ended December 31, 2019 compared to the year ended December 31, 2018. This increase in revenues is primarily the result of an increase in the number of customers served.

Total operating expense, net increased to $153.8 million, or by $35.7 million, in the year ended December 31, 2019 compared to the year ended December 31, 2018. This increase is the result of an increase in the number of customers served, greater depreciation expense, and higher period-over-period general and administrative expenses due to costs related to our initial public offering and the hiring of personnel to support growth.

Adjusted Operating Expense increased to $83.3 million, or by $20.0 million, in the year ended December 31, 2019 compared to the year ended December 31, 2018. This increase is the result of an increase in the number of customers served.

Sunnova incurred a net loss of $133.4 million for the year ended December 31, 2019 compared to a net loss of $68.4 million for the year ended December 31, 2018. This larger net loss was primarily driven by the factors described above as well as higher net interest expense, including higher realized and unrealized net losses on interest rate swaps.

Adjusted EBITDA was $48.3 million for the year ended December 31, 2019 compared to $41.1 million for the year ended December 31, 2018. This increase was due to customer growth increasing at a faster rate than expenses.

Customer principal (net of amounts recorded in revenue) and interest payments received from solar loans increased to $20.0 million and $11.6 million, respectively, for the year ended December 31, 2019, or by $13.2 million and $5.4 million, respectively, compared to the year ended December 31, 2018 due to a larger customer loan portfolio.

Net cash used in operating activities was $170.3 million in the year ended December 31, 2019 compared to $11.6 million in the year ended December 31, 2018. This increase was due primarily to higher inventory and prepaid inventory purchases under our safe harbor credit facility, additional higher inventory purchases to meet growing demand, an increased use of working capital and an increase in the amount of exclusivity and other bonus arrangement payments made to certain dealers that are inclusive in our asset level economics during the year ended December 31, 2019 compared to year ended December 31, 2018.

Adjusted Operating Cash Flow was relatively unchanged at $8.3 million in the year ended December 31, 2019 compared to $8.4 million for the year ended December 31, 2018.

Fourth Quarter 2019 Results

Revenue increased to $33.6 million, or by $8.4 million, in the three months ended December 31, 2019 compared to the three months ended December 31, 2018. Total operating expense, net increased to $42.8 million, or by $5.1 million, in the three months ended December 31, 2019 compared to the three months ended December 31, 2018. Adjusted Operating Expense increased to $22.9 million, or by $5.6 million, in the three months ended December 31, 2019 compared to the three months ended December 31, 2018. These increases are the result of an increase in the number of customers served.

Sunnova incurred a net loss of $13.8 million for the three months ended December 31, 2019 compared to a net loss of $39.1 million for the three months ended December 31, 2018. This smaller net loss was driven by an unrealized gain on interest rate swaps in the three months ended December 31, 2019 versus an unrealized loss on swaps in the three months ended December 31, 2018.

Adjusted EBITDA was $10.8 million for the three months ended December 31, 2019 compared to $8.0 million for the three months ended December 31, 2018. This increase was due to customer growth increasing at a faster rate than expenses.

Customer principal (net of amounts recorded in revenue) and interest payments received from solar loans increased to $7.1 million and $3.4 million, respectively, for the three months ended December 31, 2019, or by $5.3 million and $1.4 million, respectively, compared to the three months ended December 31, 2018 due to a larger customer loan portfolio.

Net cash used in operating activities was $95.7 million in the three months ended December 31, 2019 compared to $13.7 million of net cash provided by operating activities in the three months ended December 31, 2018. This change was primarily due to higher inventory and prepaid inventory purchases necessary to meet growing demand and safe harbor requirements.

Adjusted Operating Cash Flow was $26.7 million in the three months ended December 31, 2019 compared to $22.0 million for the three months ended December 31, 2018. This increase in Adjusted Operating Cash Flow was primarily due to the increase in the number of customers served.

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