Greenberg: The Tesla-izing of SolarCity?

(A version of this piece was published earlier Tuesday on Herb Greenberg's Reality Check.)

SAN DIEGO (TheStreet) -- If all else fails, or at least the stock isn't sizzling the way it should be, change the story.

That's the moral of SolarCity (SCTY), with news that it's planning to acquire Silevo, an unknown maker of high-efficient solar panels. The deal, in SolarCity's words, will make it the "most vertically integrated solar company in the world."

We can slice it and dice it any way we want, but to Reality Check, the most striking part of the deal was the role of Elon Musk, SolarCity's chairman: He opened the call and pretty much ended it. Until now, he has been much more of a silent partner at a company run by his cousins, Lyndon and Peter Rive.

The obvious question: Why do this deal? It comes a little more than a week after the U.S. slapped tariffs of 18% to 35% on Chinese-made solar panels, like the kind used by SolarCity. According to Musk, "If we don't do this, we face the risk of not having solar panels we need to expand the business long-term."

Almost as an afterthought, as the call was winding up, Musk said, "We're working on the aesthetics of solar panels; we want to make your roof look better."

Sounds great on paper, but Jim Petersen, who runs PetersenDean, a privately held solar installation company in Fremont, CA -- which claims to have several hundred million dollars in revenue -- told Reality Check:

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