NRG Home Solar to trade incentives with Airbnb

In an effort to grow their market shares, a popular strategy of leading U.S. residential solar companies has been to reach out to partners in other industries that interact with homeowners.

Anyone who has been to a Home Depot home improvement store in the past few years has probably encountered a SolarCity sales representative, and the company partnered with Best Buy last year.

In this light, a reciprocal deal announced today between NRG Home and Airbnb makes a lot of sense. NRG Home Solar is offering Airbnb hosts a discount on solar leases which ranges from US$100-$700, and Airbnb is offering a $100 "travel credit" to PV system owners who become hosts through its platform.

This applies to new and existing Airbnb hosts, so a new host who also begins a solar lease can get both the discount and the travel credit. The program will begin on December 1 in California and New York, and NRG says that it will expand the offering to other states in coming months.

In going for Airbnb, NRG was clearly thinking big. Airbnb claims more than 2 million listings in more than 34,000 cities and 190 nations – although it is unlikely that solar leasing is legal in many of these nations. In June the company participated in a $1.5 billion funding round to put its valuation at $25.5 billion.

NRG Home may need the help, as it is operating in a highly competitive environment and now has limited financial backing. Under pressure from investors, in September NRG announced that it was folding Home Solar with all its other renewable energy businesses except NRG Yield into a new company, which will receive support exclusively through a US$125 million revolving fund. NRG will launch its “GreenCo” at the beginning of 2016.