Business & Economy

Williston solar company iSun buys Suncommon for $40 million

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SunCommon touts its Solar Canopy product in January 2017 at the Hunger Mountain cooperative store in Montpelier. Photo by Mike Polhamus/VTDigger

Updated at 6:47 p.m.

Two leading Vermont companies in the solar energy field are merging. 

iSun, the Williston solar company, is buying the Waterbury solar company SunCommon for $40 million. 

“This merger is great news for iSun, for employees, investors and the state of Vermont,” Jeffrey Peck, CEO of iSun, said in an interview with VTDigger. 

Peck said the merger signifies two forces in the solar industry coming together.

iSun became a publicly traded company in 2019. At the time, Peck said, the company was thinking about building a renewable energy platform. 

iSun now makes electric vehicle charging stations and solar power canopies. The carports use photovoltaic solar panels to shade cars while producing electricity that can charge electric vehicles in every parking spot under the canopy.

The company also produces lighting fixtures, installs telecommunications networks, provides electricity and builds arrays of solar photovoltaic panels.

iSun is now the No. 3 builder of commercial and industrial solar power arrays in the country, Peck said.

However, he said, “we were missing a platform for the residential sector in the solar industry.” 

SunCommon is providing that platform. It’s the leading provider of photovoltaic solar panels in Vermont, and its customers are mainly homeowners. 

SunCommon co-presidents James Moore and Duane Peterson joined the interview with VTDigger alongside Peck.

Peterson said the fact that the company would continue to operate as SunCommon even as it becomes a part of iSun was “really important.”

“Part of what we love about this merger is that iSun loves SunCommon for what SunCommon is: values-led and values-forward,” Moore said.

Additionally, SunCommon may help iSun certify as a “B” Corporation. “B” Corporation certification is based on an assessment of a company’s social and environmental business practices by B Lab, a Pennsylvania nonprofit.

SunCommon is a “B” corporation itself. 

“Our goal is to become the largest publicly traded ‘B’ corporation in America,” Peterson said.

Peterson said SunCommon’s employees will not be affected in their employment, pay or benefits except that they will be offered $7,500 in iSun shares and a $2,000 cash bonus.

Moore said SunCommon, which serves more than 8,000 residential customers in Vermont and New York’s Hudson River Valley, will continue to explore other opportunities further afield. 

“There is a burning need across the region and beyond,” Moore said. “We always want to make sure that we are delivering to customers products that make their lives better.”

Moore said SunCommon provides easy financing to customers so they do not have to put any money down to go solar. Most customers choose to own their equipment, but some lease, he said. The company also offers residential customers the ability to store energy. 

“As we’ve seen more and more power outages and extreme storms, we bring that to them every day of the week,” Moore said.

He said the merger with iSun will enable SunCommon to bring more products to its customers, noting that both companies offer different types of carports that will work as a “beautiful complement” to each other. 

“We at SunCommon love our customers, and if anything, this ensures that Suncommon is going to be around for the long run,” Moore said.

Corrections: An earlier version of this story gave an incorrect location for iSun’s headquarters. Additionally, it misstated the company’s plans to achieve “B” corporation status.

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Fred Thys

About Fred

Fred Thys covers business and the economy for VTDigger. He is originally from Bethesda, Maryland, and graduated from Williams College with a degree in political science. He is the recipient of the Radio, Television, and Digital News Association's Edward R. Murrow Award for Investigative Reporting and for Enterprise Reporting. Fred has worked at The Journal of Commerce, ABC News, CBS News, CNN, NBC News, and WBUR, and has written for Le Matin, The Dallas Morning News, and The American Homefront Project.

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