Peter Rive, the co-founder of SolarCity and a key figure in the development of its solar roof, is leaving Tesla Inc., eight months after the electric vehicle maker run by his cousin, Elon Musk, acquired the rooftop solar installer.
Rive's departure also comes two months after the departure of his brother, Lyndon, another SolarCity co-founder and its former president and CEO.
A Tesla spokesperson on Wednesday confirmed that Peter Rive was leaving Tesla "to explore new opportunities," without elaborating.
"As co-founder and CTO of SolarCity, Pete has played an instrumental role in expanding access to solar to hundreds of thousands of people across the country, helping to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy," the spokesperson said in an email.
Tesla said Peter Rive's responsibilities, which included the development of the solar roof that the company is counting on to become a key product produced at the Buffalo solar panel factory it expects to open later this year, will be shifted to other Tesla engineers.
"Pete’s responsibilities, including work on solar roof, will be distributed among Tesla’s existing engineering teams," the spokesperson said.
The Rive brothers formed SolarCity in 2006, building on an idea from Musk, who provided financial backing for the venture and became its chairman. Under the Rives, SolarCity grew rapidly to become the nation's largest installer of residential rooftop solar energy systems, but the company never became profitable, building up billions in debt that raised concerns among investors and led to its acquisition last November by Tesla for $2.1 billion.
Peter Rive was a key figure in the development of the Buffalo solar panel factory, first in his role as SolarCity's technology guru and then with Tesla. The Buffalo factory initially was conceived by executives at Silevo, a fledgling California company that was developing high-efficiency solar panel technology.
Silevo planned to open a solar panel factory in Buffalo as part of the state's Buffalo Billion economic development initiative, but those plans were expanded five-fold after SolarCity acquired Silevo in 2014.
SolarCity, in cooperation with Tesla, unveiled its solar roof last fall as a way to broaden its pool of potential customers to include homeowners needing a new roof. Under Tesla, the solar business has scaled back its growth in an effort to conserve cash and is reshaping its sales strategy in another cost-cutting move.
Lyndon Rive left Tesla in May, saying he planned to develop a new business venture.