SolarCity taps semicon vet as CFO

SolarCity has named multi-decade semiconductor veteran Brad Buss as its new chief financial officer, underscoring its major push into PV manufacturing.

Buss, who was CFO of Cypress Semiconductor from 2005 until this June, will replace current SolarCity CFO Bob Kelly, who held the position for the past two and a half years, and will retire from the company effective 11 August.

The hiring reflects powerfully on SolarCity’s ambition to become a world-leading PV manufacturer in addition to its core business as a downstream solar installer and financier.

While Kelly was a veteran of the independent power producer sector, Buss brings experience in semiconductor manufacturing, which is closely related to the PV manufacturing process.

Cypress was the owner of SunPower, currently the second largest US-based PV manufacturer, before spinning it off in a 2005 initial public offering.

In June SolarCity, the leading US residential PV installer, shook the industry by announcing plans to acquire Silevo and build a “pilot” 1GW module factory in New York state within two years.

“[Buss] is a perfect fit for SolarCity’s next stage of growth as we vertically integrate manufacturing to significantly lower the cost of solar electricity,” says SolarCity chief executive Lyndon Rive.

“[He] brings a combination of experience in semiconductor manufacturing, project finance and other key disciplines that we’ve been unable to find in any other executive.”

Among other positions he holds, Buss is currently a member of the board of directors at Tesla Motors, which is run by Rive’s first cousin – and SolarCity chairman – Elon Musk.