CleanTechnica is the #1 cleantech-focused
website
 in the world.


Clean Power Photo credit: GRID Alternatives

Published on February 15th, 2013 | by Andrew

2

Record Year For California Third-Party Home Solar Leases



Having home solar panels installed by leasing them from third parties has grown like wildfire in the US, particularly in states with their own government incentive programs. On February 13, Sunrun, a pioneer in third-party solar leasing, and solar photovoltaic (PV) market data provider PV Solar Report, announced that third-party-owned solar pumped more than $938 million into California’s economy in 2012, a record-high annual amount equal to that of all the previous five years combined.

Third-party solar energy system leases now account for nearly three-quarters (74%) of California’s residential solar market, according to Sunrun and PV Solar. A market research report released last August revealed that solar leasing had added more than $1 billion to California’s economy since being introduced in 2007.

Photo credit: GRID Alternatives

Photo Credit: GRID Alternatives

The California state government has put together one of the most proactive and ambitious packages of home solar energy incentives in the nation (if not the most proactive and ambitious). Spurred ahead by the California Solar Initiative (CSI), or the “One Million Solar Roofs” program, solar power generation capacity breached a major milestone, crossing the 1 gigawatt (GW) installed solar power generation capacity mark.

Having a home solar energy system installed via third-party leasing makes a significant dent in the upfront cost of having one installed, with providers in some states even offering zero-down financing. That’s driving uptake of solar PV across a much broader base of the US population, low- and median-income households in particular. Two-thirds of home solar installations are now occurring in low- and median-income neighborhoods, according to a July 2012 assessment from the California Solar Initiative (CSI), Sunrun, and PV Solar.

“Solar service is bringing solar to more American families not only because it eliminates the upfront cost, but also because it removes the hassles of ownership,” Sunrun co-CEO Lynn Jurich was quoted in the press release. “Homeowners feel the impact of a tight economy and are looking for ways to own less in order to save more money. Our business model meets those needs, plus it helps the planet.”

The numbers speak for themselves.

“Nearly 75% of homeowners who went solar in 2012 chose third-party-owned, compared to 56% in 2011,” founder and managing director of PV Solar Report Stephen Torres highlighted. “We are seeing the most growth in low and median-income zip codes as companies like Sunrun continue to remove the barriers to access.”

Earlier this week, Greentech Media (GTM) released research that found that third-party-financed home solar installations made up more than 50% of new capacity in Arizona, California, Colorado, and Massachusetts. The third-party leasing business model is also gaining market share in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Texas, Vermont, and Washington, according to GTM.

Drilling down into the data, PV Solar and Sunrun compiled a list of California’s “Top Solar Cities for 2012”:

  1. San Diego
  2. San Jose
  3. Bakersfield
  4. Los Angeles
  5. Fresno
  6. San Francisco
  7. Corona
  8. Murrieta
  9. Clovis
  10. Temecula

An executive summary of the Sunrun-PV Solar report is available online.

Print Friendly

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


About the Author

I've been reporting and writing on a wide range of topics at the nexus of economics, technology, ecology/environment and society for some five years now. Whether in Asia-Pacific, Europe, the Americas, Africa or the Middle East, issues related to these broad topical areas pose tremendous opportunities, as well as challenges, and define the quality of our lives, as well as our relationship to the natural environment.



  • ronwint

    Solar leasing or solar fleecing ? You decide. The solar
    leasing companies want your roof so that they can take your 30% federal tax
    credit worth thousands of dollars. They will also take any and all other
    financial incentives such as cash rebates and REC credits. In exchange you’ll
    only get a 10 to 15% reduction in your electric bill after you factor in the
    lease payments and you’ll be stuck with 20 years’ worth of lease payments on
    forever ageing solar equipment that you can’t sell because it won’t belong to
    you. In fact after making 20 years’ worth of lease payments, if you want to
    keep the system, you’ll have to buy it from the leasing company at fair market
    value. And good luck ever selling your home with a lease attached to it. What
    home buyer will want to assume your lease payment on used equipment when they
    can buy a brand new, state of the art system for as little as 1/3 the cost of
    your lease payments. Today you can buy a complete, name brand, grid tie solar
    system for only $1.66 a watt. And that’s before any incentives. Instead of a
    solar lease why not get an FHA $0 down solar loan so you can keep the 30%
    federal tax credit and all the other financial incentives for a much better
    return on your investment. Oh, and that discount that the leasing company is
    offering you, who do you think is paying for that in the end? Right, how generous of you.

  • jburt56

    Great. Now multiply by 10.

Back to Top ↑