For as long as I’ve owned a home I have dreamed of installing a solar system that would produce clean, renewable energy for our home (and possibly others). The only problem is the cost. Even with Federal and State tax incentives and rebates from the utility company the cost of a new solar system for our home would come in around $15-20k. That’s a large investment that would require a long period of time to recoup.
So how does one Go Solar without going broke? The answer has emerged before us in the form of partnerships between solar installers and financing companies that offer solar rentals for little or no money down.
This isn’t exactly a new concept. Some five years ago I signed a contract with a company called Citizenre. They were going to install a solar array on my property for free, I would simply pay my electric bill to them and they would sell power back to the grid when we weren’t consuming what the array was producing. While initially we wouldn’t benefit financially from the system, the contract locked our energy rate in for twenty years which promised big savings down the road.
Sounds to good to be true, right? Well at the time it was. I don’t know the full story, but I’ve been led to believe from some in the industry that the local power company would not budge on the rate at which it buys energy from individual producers, basically crushing Citizenre’s business model. Citizenre never reached the critical mass needed and soon thereafter disappeared.
Fortunately, the power company has since come around, realizing that clean renewable energy is good for all of us, even them. That, along with a decrease in incentives from the government to install solar systems has made the rental market that much more attractive. Now, local solar installers like Namaste Solar have partnered with financing companies to provide solar system “rentals”. With very little upfront cost you can have a photovoltaic system installed and maintained for less than your current monthly electric bill. You can lock in your current energy rate for up to twenty years, and yes, it is transferable should you sell your house.
There are limitations of course. We have a nice, big, slightly south facing flat roof over our garage with excellent solar exposure. So for us, it’s easy to get a system that produces enough energy to make it worth it for the financing company. Many older homes have small south facing roof areas, or chimneys or trees obstructing the sun, so they may not be ideal candidates for a rented P.V. system. For anyone that dreams of clean, renewable energy, this is definitely worth investigating in your area.