Agents of Impact | May 21, 2021

Lynn Jurich, Sunrun

Dennis Price
ImpactAlpha Editor

Dennis Price

ImpactAlpha, May 21 – As Elon Musk grabs headlines, Lynn Jurich grabs customers. The co-founder and CEO of Sunrun has quietly added 500,000 customers to become the largest solar power installation and leasing company in the U.S., overtaking Tesla, which acquired SolarCity in 2016. Sunrun is now challenging Tesla in bringing electric-vehicle chargers to America’s driveways.

The F-150 Lightning, the electric version of Ford’s popular pickup truck, will come with a home charging station and integration system installed by Sunrun. An added plus: the Lightning can serve as a backup power source for homes to balance loads and ride out power outages. The partnership “can bring energy resilience to millions of Americans across the country,” says Jurich.

Jurich’s instinct that residential customers would demand a more resilient, decentralized energy system has been borne out by climate-related crises and energy blackouts. Founding the company in 2007 with Ed Fenster at Stanford Business School, Jurich struggled to recruit talent. “One hundred percent of people said it wouldn’t work and gave me this dismissive message,” Jurich told The New York Times.

Since then, the company says, Sunrun’s home solar and rechargeable battery solutions have generated nearly four gigawatts of solar energy, saved customers hundreds of millions of dollars on electricity bills – and prevented more than 8.1 million metric tons of carbon emissions.

Tesla quietly added vehicle-to-grid charging capabilities last year, and early versions of Musk’s futuristic Cybertruck may be available late this year. The more workaday F-150 Lightning is due out next spring.

The home-charging partnership with Ford could give Sunrun access to hundreds of thousands of new customers for its solar and battery systems. Jurich, 42, keeps a lower profile than Musk, 49, and Sunrun’s $9 billion market value pales in comparison to Tesla’s $565 billion. But their growing competition to power cars, homes and everything else with decarbonized electricity should be a corporate grudge match to watch.