Solar Power Leases: Avoid the Big Initial Costs

Image: solar panels in a field with snow-capped mountains beyond. Title: Solar Power Leases: Avoid the Big Initial Costs

Would you like to get a solar power system on your roof without having to pay a single cent up front? Leases are making it possible for people in several states to go solar with no money down.

The single biggest barrier to going solar has always been the high upfront costs of purchasing solar panels, says Solar City founder Lyndon Rive.

“So we created a service that allowed the homeowner to go solar and save money from day one with no investment on their side. We started the solar lease in 2008, and it has done fantastically,” Rive says.

What is a Solar Power Lease?

A solar lease allows you to have a solar power system installed on your home with no upfront investment. Instead, you basically rent the system, making monthly payments over a period of 10-20 years that tend to be about 15 percent lower than the average conventional utility bill, says Rive. Historically, utility rates have increased over five percent every year, but with a solar lease, you can lock in lower electricity rates for the term of your lease.

“If financed, solar is less expensive than the conventional forms of electricity generation,” says Danny Kennedy, founder of Sungevity, which also offers solar leases. (Note: Sungevity, a member of Green America's Green Business Network, will make a donation to Green America when you sign up to go solar.)

Companies that offer solar leases often don’t charge interest, but recoup costs by accepting the applicable federal, state, and local tax incentives. Most offer free maintenance and cleaning for the entire term of their customers’ leases. The panels themselves are under warranty for about 25 years for customers who lease or buy.

Companies offering solar leases

Whether you're going solar with a group or alone, a solar lease will help you avoid the high up-front costs of buying solar panels.

• CentroSolar (877/348-2555) 
• Citizenré, (877/660-0131) 
• Solar City, (888/765-2489) 
• Solar Universe (925/455-4700) 
• Sun Edison (888/786-3347)
• Sun Power 800/786-7693) 
• Sun Run (855/478-6786)
• Sungevity, (866/786-4255)

From Green American Magazine Issue