Updated 1 day ago

SunPower layoffs: around 1,000 workers to lose their jobs as direct residential installations cease

Written by Ben Zientara , Edited by Catherine Lane

Image source: SunPower

On Wednesday, April 24th, 2024, SunPower Corporation announced that it would cease its direct solar installation business and cut approximately 1,000 jobs from its global workforce. The company says it made the changes to “position SunPower for the future (and) achieve financial viability.”

The layoffs will reduce SunPower’s workforce by more than 25%, as it had roughly 3,800 employees globally prior to the announcement, according to Reuters. Many of the job cuts became effective on the day of the announcement, while others were scheduled to take place over time as the company works to transition to a more streamlined operational model.

While this change will affect the company's employees and customers, the brand will continue to operate and sell its products through SunPower-certified dealers and full-service installation partners across the country. The company says that “all pending projects” will be handled through those partners.

In addition, SunPower says it will continue providing customer service and operations and maintenance for existing customers, of which it has nearly 600,000, according to its 2023 financial filings. The company has also promised to continue to invest in its New Homes business. 

Let’s delve a little deeper into the announcement:

Key takeaways

  • Until April 24th, 2024, SunPower had both direct residential and light commercial solar installation business and a network of certified partner installers who sold its hardware, software, and financing products to homeowners across the United States.

  • After the announcement, the company will transition to a dealership model only, and all customers currently under contract will have their installations performed by one of SunPower’s partners.

  • The company had previously sold its commercial and industrial solar business to its majority shareholder, TotalEnergies.

  • In 2021, SunPower purchased Blue Raven Solar, which receives high praise from customers and experts alike. Blue Raven currently operates in 19 states, offering products to homeowners from multiple brands, including SunPower.

Further details

Concurrently with the April 24th announcement, the company published an 8-K filing about the layoffs, estimating that the layoffs and restructuring would cost the company about $28 million in severance benefits and other expenses. The company said the restructuring plan should be “substantially complete by the end of the Company’s second fiscal quarter.”

Another 8-K filing released by SunPower the same day contained details about “misstatements in the audited financial statements for the fiscal year ended January 1, 2023.” The company states it “has not fully completed its review” but that it estimates a decrease in income for that fiscal year of between $15 and $25 million.

Late in 2023, the company was sued for alleged accounting inaccuracies. These actions are still pending.

SunPower and Maxeon

Until March 2024, SunPower had previously been the exclusive U.S. dealer for Maxeon M-series solar panels, but SunPower had reportedly fallen behind on payments to its main supplier in 2023, causing the two brands to reach an agreement to end the exclusive relationship. 

“Maxeon ended its exclusive supply agreement with SunPower earlier this year and the final shipments under that agreement have now been completed. Since last year, we have been selling our products under the Maxeon brand in the North American DG market. This will be our primary focus going forward, and we continue to strengthen our installer network and build momentum in our Maxeon sales channel in the U.S,” a Maxeon spokesperson told SolarReviews

Outside the U.S., Maxeon still operates under the “SunPower from Maxeon Solar Technologies” brand name.

Final thoughts

SunPower’s downsizing reflects the struggles of the residential solar industry at large. Changing policies and increased financing costs make closing sales incredibly difficult. 

While the news may seem foreboding, the company intends to continue supporting its extensive dealer network, suggesting consumers may be shifting away from large national corporations and towards local installers that can provide more personalized service and wider product offerings. SunPower installations through Blue Raven Solar will continue, allowing the company to offer its premium options, as well as a wider variety of products, to appeal to more cost-conscious consumers. 

Written by Ben Zientara Solar Policy Analyst

Ben Zientara is a writer, researcher, and solar policy analyst who has written about the residential solar industry, the electric grid, and state utility policy since 2013. His early work included leading the team that produced the annual State Solar Power Rankings Report for the Solar Power Rocks website from 2015 to 2020. The rankings were utilized and referenced by a diverse mix of policymakers, advocacy groups, and media including The Center...

Learn more about Ben Zientara