Wait ... Someone in Lehi is Manufacturing Solar Panels? Yup.

Wait ... Someone in Lehi is Manufacturing Solar Panels? Yup.
Photo by Bill Mead / Unsplash

The fact that this manufacturing fab is part of California-based Complete Solaria which is on the cusp of becoming a public company via a ~$350 million SPAC Merger with Freedom Acquisition I Corp. presents an intriguing opportunity for GO-Utah (the Governor's Office of Economic Opportunity) and others.

In my role as Editor and Publisher of Utah Money Watch, I'm always looking for snippets of information that might lead to an interesting bit of news and/or insights for you, our readers.

And so it was that a few days ago I stumbled across a tidbit that I initially thought suggested that a Utah-based solar power company was about to "go public" by merging with a publicly traded Special Purpose Acquisition Corporation (aka, a SPAC).

Turns out that perception was incorrect - the operating company is actually headquartered in the greater Silicon Valley area of northern California and not here in Utah's so-called Silicon Slopes.

But before I reached that conclusion, I did find this photo within a Shareholder Presention from Complete Solaria that it published on 30 June 2023 on the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission website.

Slide No. 4 from the Complete Solaria Shareholder Presentation published on the SEC.gov website 06-30-23.

{BTW: If you don't know where this building is located, it's in Lehi just west of Interstate-15 between the Highway 92 and Triumph Blvd. exits, placing it right smack in the middle of Lehi's own stretch of "Silicon Slopes."}

In other words, Complete Solaria does have a facility in Utah.

So ... in summary ... here's the rest of the story.

Complete Solaria and its Pending SPAC Merger

New York City-based Freedom Acquisition I Corp. went public on 2 March 2021 (NYSE:FACT) as a SPAC, raising $345 million in the process with the stated goal of "pursu(ing) a target in the financial services sector."

Today, some 820+ days later, Freedom is not slated to conduct a SPAC Merger with a "financial services" entity.

Rather, Freedom is on track to merge with a relatively new firm - California-based Complete Solaria - a vertically integrated solar industry enterprise formed by combining two San Francisco Bay Area firms: Solaria and Complete Solar.

By way of reference, this pending combination got its start in October 2022. And various machinations notwithstanding since then, the reality is that the boards and controlling shareholders of Freedom and Complete Solaria have already voted in favor on the SPAC Merger.

In fact, according the Freedom Proxy Statement filed on 30 June 2023, all that's left is to do is hold an Extraordinary General Meeting on July 11 to allow shareholders to officially vote on nine separate yet interrelated proposals regarding the pending merger.

Should the votes on said proposals "pass," Complete Solaria will end up becoming a publicly traded company listed on the Nasdaq Stock Market in a matter of days with roughly $350 million in the bank post-merger.

OPINION:  Here's Why Complete Solaria Matters to Utah

Utah's role as an energy-producing state traces back to the territorial discovery of coal in the second half of the 1800s and the subsequent development of mining operations in Carbon County and other parts of the state, along with the latter development of significant natural gas and petroleum extraction projects occuring primarily in Duchesne County.

Setting aside energy extraction industry for the time being, however, the reality is that Utah has seen a fairly large contingent of solar power companies emerge and thrive within the state, in large part due to the readily available crop of recently returned missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

During such 24- or 18-month missions, these young men and women learn firsthand how to unabashedly approach strangers and sell a "product" many aren't actively seeking: Religion.

And when said RMs can take a summer off and go door-to-door selling residential solar power with the prospect of earning commissions of tens-of-thousands-of-dollars or more in just three to four months, it's not surprising that 1000s of these former prostelysers are drawn to go door-knocking each year to evangelize a different product: Solar Power.

However, beyond the door-to-door salesman/saleswoman option prominent in Utah, the realities are that the dry climate, higher elevation, and significant desert landscape each make Utah quite attractive to the solar power industry.

Last of all, if we're honest about it, Utah actually is a great state for starting and running a business, with minimal governmental interference, relatively low tax rates, a highly educated and young population, and a competitive yet cooperative business mindset (call it "Coopetition").

So ... what does this have to do with Freedom Acquisition I Corp., Complete Solar, and Utah?

By my reading of the various Freedom-related SEC filings tied to this pending SPAC Merger, the deal IS GOING TO HAPPEN. There is zero question about this fact.

As a result, Complete Solar will become a growing, California-headquartered, publicly traded company company with close to $350 million in the bank, a projected $200 million in revenue in 2023 ... AND ... it has its own solar panel manufacturing operation based in Lehi, Utah.

Complete Solar also has grand aspirations, much of it tied to its beliefs that being a vertically integrated company, one that

  1. Designs and manufactures its own solar panels, and that
  2. Utilizes partner organizations to sell and install residential solar systems,

is the best approach to win in the residential solar marketplace in the United States.

Some may disagree with this philosophy, which is fine. But when

I sit up and take notice.

And with the combination of Solaria and Complete Solar last November to create Complete Solar, the combined firm

  • Now has over 1,300 reseller/installer partners in the U.S. and Europe, and
  • Expects to grow 2023 revenue to over $200 million, up from $115 million in 2022.
Complete Solaria footprint via its 05-23-23 presentation.

So ... do I expect Complete Solaria to move its headquarters to Utah once its SPAC Merger is completed? I do not.

Do I expect Complete Solaria will need to grow its solar panel manufacturing capabilities? No question about it.

Will it be dramatically less expensive to do so in Utah versus California? Absolutely.

I also feel that a new Complete Solaria fabrication plant in Utah, either in

perhaps somewhere else makes a ton of sense to me.

So, at the risk of being too presumptious,

good luck.

I'm convinced Complete Solaria is an excellent candidate for each of you.

I hope you agree.