Home Solar Lease: Pro and Con

In 2008, a company called SolarCity announced that instead of just selling homeowners photovoltaic panels, it would offer them with no-money-down lease options. That turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to the solar business, and several other companies (including SunRun and Sungevity, which works with Lowe’s) have followed its lead. You can now lease a home solar array just about everywhere, including through Home Depot with SolarCity, but the question remains—should you?

Peter Rive, the chief operating officer of SolarCity, says it’s a good deal. “Customers get the benefits of solar panels without a big cash outlay, and they can do it with zero down. We want people to think of it as a pay-for-use benefit, which is just what your utility company does now. When they do an equipment upgrade, they don’t ask you to pay for it. It’s a flat monthly fee, similar to our lease.”

Google announced that earlier this month that it is investing an astounding $280 million in SolarCity, which is one big vote of confidence in solar leasing. Google’s previous headline energy investments were related to wind power, so this is a shift that shows it likes the business case. (You can buy panels through SolarCity, but the leasing plan is growing faster.) The company currently has 15,000 customers, and recently expanded to the east coast from its California base. Sungevity (which offers 10-year leases compared to SolarCity’s 15) is also growing, with a $24 million in financing from U.S. Bancorp.

Written by Jim Motavalli. To read the full article, click here.


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