Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Solar Lease

While I was perusing the endless & captivating isles at Home Depot recently, I came across this advertisement. I'd seen it before, but after almost 9 months of in-depth solar panel training this year with Solar Energy International (SEI), all-things-solar seem to pique my interest even more than usual.

So of course I was intrigued, because one of the biggest deterrents for the average citizen interested in 'going solar' is the upfront cost, especially if you live in a state without a significant environmental incentive program. So the solar lease seems like an intriguing alternative to the average Joe looking to reduce his (or her) carbon footprint. I delved deeper:

Here are the nuts and bolts of it:

  • Home Depot has partnered with U.S. solar installation giant SolarCity to provide custom and professional panel installations on your home or business.
  • Instead of buying solar panels, clients simply lease the equipment and pay as they go.
  • Home Depot handles all installation-related paperwork, including permits, tax credits and coordination with power company.
  • Flexible financing options and a comprehensive project price covers everything from the initial paperwork to final cleanup.
  • The combination of the monthly lease payment and subsequent electricity bill is apparently less than an average utility bill.
  • Savings grows as utility rates increase, and lower electricity rates are locked in for the term of the lease.
  • Repairs, maintenance, monitoring and insurance are covered under the lease.
  • SolarCity will pay the difference in your bill if the system does not perform as guaranteed.
  • Performance is monitored daily online by SolarGuard®.
  • When the lease ends, there is the option to upgrade to a new system with updated technology, extend the lease in 5 year increments, or simply have the panels removed (for free).
  • If you sell your home before the lease ends, it can either be transferred to the new owners or you can pay it off and add it to the asking price.

Not a bad deal if you ask me! It's my humble opinion that leases like these, as well as community solar farms, gardens & similar allocation programs are the future of solar energy, utilizing cumulative energy sharing and payment plans to make PV systems affordable to the masses. It's an exciting time!

Check out HomeDepot & SolarCity for more information.