The latest offering in some Best Buy stores isn’t an electronic gizmo: It’s a chance to lease solar power.
The Richfield-based Fortune 500 electronics retailer will offer the leases through a partnership with San Mateo, California-based SolarCity Corporation. SolarCity will now be selling its services—which include leases for home and business owners to buy solar power—in approximately 60 Best Buy stores in Arizona, California, New York, Hawaii, and Oregon.
The arrangement, which appears to be distinct for Best Buy, does not include any stores in Minnesota, a state where SolarCity does not have a presence. The two companies began testing the concept at a smaller group of stores last fall.
“It’s a natural evolution of our pre-existing relationship with SolarCity and it’s a true win-win for our customers and the environment,” Best Buy spokesman Jon Sandler wrote in an email to Twin Cities Business.
According to a Forbes report on the deal, SolarCity and Best Buy have agreed to a “revenue sharing model.” Sandler declined to comment on the terms of the agreement between the two companies.
For now, SolarCity will have a presence in just a small percentage of Best Buy’s approximately 1,400 stores. The company will sell rooftop solar panels through kiosks at the 60 select Best Buy stores, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. SolarCity reportedly offers free solar installations and then sells power to customers.
Well-known entrepreneur and inventor Elon Musk is the chairman of SolarCity Corp. Musk is also chairman and CEO of Tesla Motors, the electric car company. Musk is a cousin of SolarCity cofounder and CEO Lyndon Rive.
Best Buy has been undertaking a major effort to recharge the company in a climate of declining retail sales. The company reported $42.4 billion in sales for its fiscal 2014, ending February 1, with $532 million in net profit. That compared to revenue of $43.9 billion and a net loss of $249 million for fiscal 2013.
Best Buy has announced several partnerships in recent years. For example, it announced plans last year for in-store partnerships with Samsung and Microsoft Windows.
The move to sell solar leases generated more coverage in California, where SolarCity is based and many of the participating Best Buy stores are located. Customers who sign up for the solar service before Earth Day–April 22–will be given a $100 Best Buy gift card.
According to a post on SolarCity’s blog: “SolarCity makes it possible for many homeowners to install solar panels for free and pay less for solar electricity than they pay for utility power. As the first national consumer electronics retailer to offer a solar service option in-store, Best Buy is helping to make solar power more accessible.”