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Report: SolarCity IPO before the end of the year?

Solar installer SolarCity filed for a potentially $201 million IPO back in April and the solar industry — and cleantech watchers — have been waiting to see when the startup would debut. Well, according to a report in Reuters this week, SolarCity plans to go public before the end of the year, and the move was delayed a bit by super storm Sandy.

Based in San Mateo, south of San Francisco, and founded in 2006, SolarCity wants to be listed on the NASDAQ under the symbol “SCTY.” The company recorded $59.55 million in revenue and $73.71 million in net losses in 2011, compared with $32.43 million in revenue and $47.07 million in net losses in 2010. For the first six months of this year, the company posted $71.42 million in revenue and $48.91 million in net losses.

If SolarCity has a successful IPO it could be an important bellweather for venture-backed solar and next generation energy technology exits. There have been very few in 2012 — for example, solar project developer BrightSource ditched its planned IPO because it wasn’t getting the valuation it wanted.

The company raised $200 million in venture funding, and its investors include Draper Fisher Jurvetson, DBL Investors, Generation Investment Management and Tesla Motors’ CEO Elon Musk. This would be the second large IPO for Musk’s investments, following Tesla.

SolarCity was one of the early crop of solar installer startups which used financing options, such as leases and power purchase agreements, to attract customers. With these types of financing arrangements, home or business owners don’t have to pay the expensive upfront cost of buying and installing solar panels, and SolarCity covers that cost. The homeowner, instead, pays a monthly fee for the energy. SolarCity has raised hundreds of millions of dollars from banks such as U.S. Bancorp and from corporate investors such as Google to pay for these upfront costs.

SolarCity has also moved aggressively into energy efficiency audits, and plans to expand that business going forward. Here’s 5 things you should know about SolarCity’s IPO (and they aren’t all good).