The $2.1 billion merger of SolarCity (SCTY) and Tesla Motors (TSLA) , while simplifying and advancing the strategic vision of Elon Musk, faces a level of risk not seriously contemplated when the deal was announced in August.
At the time, the election prospects of Donald Trump looked marginal at best, with pundits and mainstream media largely in accord that Hillary Clinton would waltz into the White House. A Clinton win would surely have ratified U.S. energy and environmental policy under President Barack Obama, including measures designed to stifle fossil fuels while providing taxpayer incentives for renewable energy.
One persistent criticism of the merger was its appearance as a financial bailout of SolarCity by the stronger Tesla. Musk denied this, explaining that he wanted to create a one-stop shop for renewable energy, a place where consumers could buy equipment that converted solar to electricity, stored electricity in batteries for a variety of uses, including to power Tesla electrical vehicles.
The success of the merged entity will hinge on profitable sales growth of Tesla vehicles and of solar panels. Both may face difficulties during the Trump administration, given the president-elect's skeptical statements regarding global warming. He is on record as claiming that global warming is a "hoax" perpetrated by the Chinese, a charge the People's Republic has rebutted.
One of the president-elect's first actions has been to appoint noted Washington D.C.-based climate change skeptic Myron Ebell to oversee the transition of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. What Ebell plans to do and whom he plans to recommend to run the agency aren't yet clear - though it's fair to assume the new agency will pursue a sharp break with "green" policies and thinking.