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SolarCity workers install solar panels on rooftops at Hickam Communities at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, where developer Lend Lease and SolarCity have partnered on the first SolarStrong-eligible project (Photo: Business Wire)

SAN MATEO -- SolarCity, one of the nation's leading rooftop solar installers, is seeking as much as $151 million in an initial public offering, according to a Tuesday regulatory filing with the SEC.

The company, whose chairman is Tesla Motors (TSLA) CEO Elon Musk, plans to sell roughly 10.1 million shares at $13 to $15 a share, according to the filing. The company plans to list on the Nasdaq exchange under the symbol "SCTY."

The IPO would be the first for a solar installer.

SolarCity does not make solar panels itself, but has moved aggressively to be one of the nation's top installers of residential and commercial systems. The San Mateo company pioneered the concept of a "solar lease," offering homeowners the ability to switch to solar power for no money down. Founded in 2006, the company has a footprint in 14 states and has worked on nearly 45,000 buildings, and intends to expand internationally.

Solar stocks have been hammered by a global oversupply of panels and weakening demand in Europe. Oakland-based BrightSource Energy, which builds large solar thermal power plants in the desert, shelved its plans for an IPO this spring, citing "adverse market conditions."


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SolarCity's regulatory filing includes red flags for potential investors, however. The Office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Treasury has issued subpoenas to several players in the rooftop solar industry, including SolarCity, related to participation in the U.S. Treasury grant program.

"We intend to cooperate fully with the Inspector General and the Department of Justice," SolarCity said in the filing. "We are not aware of, and have not been made aware of, any specific allegations of misconduct or misrepresentation by us or our officers, directors or employees, and no such assertions have been made by the Inspector General or the Department of Justice. However, if at the conclusion of the investigation the Inspector General concludes that misrepresentations were made, the Department of Justice could decide to bring a civil action to recover amounts it believes were improperly paid to us."

SolarCity also says that in October, it was notified that the Internal Revenue Service was conducting an income tax audit of two of its investment funds.

SolarCity's CEO is Lyndon Rive, a native of South Africa and entrepreneur who has been a member of the U.S. National Underwater Hockey Team. Peter Rive, his brother, is the company's CTO; the two brothers cofounded the company with help from Musk, their cousin.

Contact Dana Hull at 408-920-2706. Follow her at Twitter.com/danahull.