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Clean Power Courtesy SolarCity

Published on March 15th, 2014 | by Roy L Hales

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SolarCity & Best Buy Team Up To Sell Solar In 60+ Stores

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March 15th, 2014 by  

Courtesy SolarCity

SolarCity and Best Buy announced this week that they have teamed to sell residential solar in New York, Oregon, Arizona, Hawaii, and California. There are now SolarCity kiosks in over 60 Best Buy stores.

“This is the largest consumer electronics retailer in the United States,” said SolarCity vice president Jonathan Bass. “When you come into Best Buy, at our kiosk we can look at your home on a satellite map and determine if it will be a good fit for solar.”

The deal is even being kicked off with $100 Best Buy gift card for anyone who signs up for SolarCity’s service before Earth Day, April 22.

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It is part of SolarCity’s push to go mainstream. In the poll it recently conducted with Clean Edge, 62% of American homeowners said they want solar panels on their homes. SolarCity wants to help them do this. According to their brochure:

  • SolarCity and Best Buy have beta tested the program since September, and based on the success of the early pilots, are currently rolling out services in approximately 60 Best Buy locations in Arizona, California, Hawaii, New York and Oregon.
  • The decreasing cost of solar technology and the expansion of solar service models have made solar power far more affordable and accessible than was previously possible—SolarCity can make it possible for Best Buy customers to install solar panels for free, and pay less for solar electricity than they currently pay for utility bills.
  • A SolarCity representative at each Best Buy location will be able to provide Best Buy customers with a satellite-based assessment of their home’s solar potential—including how much they could expect to save on energy costs—in less than five minutes.  
  • A great swath of Americans believe we should be using more solar, but fewer than 1 percent have it today. Best Buy is making solar power far more accessible—bringing it into the mainstream—as the first national consumer electronics retailer to offer a solar service option in-store.
  • Solar power can be used to operate any device that runs on electricity, and generates zero emissions. The use of solar power also significantly mitigates the air and water pollution associated with other forms of electricity generation.

Want to see how much you could save switching to solar? It all starts with a free consultation in your home.

If you don’t live in one of the specified areas, you can still phone one of SolarCity’s Energy Advisors (888.765.2489) or go to their website solarcity.com.

Editor’s note: I’d always recommend getting solar quotes from multiple sources. None of them offer the best deal every single time. Sometimes one service does, sometimes another. Aside from going to SolarCity, Vivint Solar, Sunrun, or Sungevity directly, my key recommendations are checking out your offerings via EnergySage, Cost of Solar, and 1BOG.

Keep up to date with all the hottest cleantech news by subscribing to our (free) cleantech newsletter, or keep an eye on sector-specific news by getting our (also free) solar energy newsletter, electric vehicle newsletter, or wind energy newsletter.

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About the Author

is the editor of the ECOreport (www.theecoreport.com), a website dedicated to exploring how our lifestyle choices and technologies affect the West Coast of North America and writes for both Clean Techncia and PlanetSave. He is a research junkie who has written hundreds of articles since he was first published in 1982. Roy lives on Cortes Island, BC, Canada.



  • Loren McDonald

    Ray, I wish you would be more transparent every time you post a rant against PPAs. You apparently own a solar company and have a vested interest in purchase vs. leasing.

    I appreciate your math … I’m guessing you are a left-brain accountant. Purchasing solar rather than a PPA might make better financial sense, but financing $20k or paying out of pocket that amount or taking out home equity loan is not going to be an option for a majority of Americans.

    This is about scaling solar, not the greatest ROI. I’m very happy with my PPA. I’m saving about 50% on my electricity bill right now and will save more as each year passes.

    I appreciate that you spreading the word that purchasing provides a better financial return, but most people don’t think of their electricity bill that way. Cutting your bill in half, with little or no money down and helping save the planet is a pretty good deal.

    • Ray Boggs

      How much more transparent can I be other than to post my real name and photo. Anyone can easily look up my background on the Internet. Of course I sell solar systems and am passionate about the reasons why we won’t offer leases and PPAs.

      With over 16 years in the PV industry we could have easily adopted the lease and PPA rental models years ago but felt that it would be unethical to even suggest these options to most consumers.

      Just out of curiosity, why is it that you believe that entering into a PPA is any different than taking out a loan. When you applied for your PPA, the PPA company had to check your FICO score to make sure that you qualified, the PPA company recorded a UCC lien against your home, meaning that you cannot sell your home until you’ve paid off your 20 year PPA contract or convinced a potential home buyer to assume your PPA payments (that ‘s if they qualified of course), and under the heading of “Default” in your solar PPA contract, you’ll typically find that if you’re more than 10 days late on any PPA payment, the PPA company has the right to remove their system from your roof at your expense and then take legal action against you to collect the balance owed on your PPA agreement.

      And by the way, a $0 down FHA Title 1 solar loan is easier to qualify for than a lease or PPA, only a 650 credit score is typically needed, no equity in the home is needed and unlike a PPA, the interest is tax deductible. So why would you think that there is no other option but a PPA for a majority of Americans?

      You may be happy saving only 50% on your electric bill and that’s great. What I’m offering is the knowledge that no lease or PPA salesman will ever offer and that is that the 10 to 15% savings that the leasing company advertise and even your 50% savings (you obviously left out some details on that claim) is but a fraction of what is achievable when you own instead of rent a system with a PPA.

      You don’t have to be “left-brain accountant” to do the math. Simply total up your 20 years’ worth of non-tax deductible PPA payments and compare that the the cost of a purchased system ($0 down financed or cash pay) at less than $2.20 per watt after applying the 30% federal tax credit and the answer will be glaringly obvious. Solar leases and PPAs are two of the most expensive ways to have a solar system on your roof when compared to a purchase. And that’s a fact.

      • Loren McDonald

        Ray you continue to miss the point. This is about cash, about taking out a loan. While a PPA may technically be similar to a loan it appears differently to the average consumer. There is a reason most cars are leased today and not purchased. Cutting your monthly electricity bill and going green is something in reach of more people through a PPA than a purchase. That isn’t a bad thing – even if it doesn’t provide the best financial return.

        And you can be more transparent by including a statement of your interests in blog comments that attack something instead of forcing people to Google your name. That is standard social media protocol.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Car leasing looks more like 25% (that surprises me, I know no one who leases).

          I agree that getting panels on roofs and fossil fuels out of our energy supply is the important issue.

          People should be given the information about purchasing and leasing in order to make an informed decision. But if people decide to lease, so what? They pay less for electricity. Someone (not them) makes money. Less fossil fuels are burned.

          Lots of people rent rather than purchase. Someone else makes the appreciation gains. Their choice.

          • Loren McDonald

            Bob, I agree – I just want people to go solar … let it be there choice, whatever approach (PPA or purchase) makes sense for their individual situation. And apparently my car leasing analogy wasn’t a good one …

            I couldn’t find an actual legitimate source for the numbers, but rather lots of comments in discussion forums that peg leasing at about 20%. So apparently I’m way off and was misinformed.

            We recently leased a luxury car and the dealer informed us that 80% of all of their cars are leased. And unlike you, I know almost no one who buys anymore. But apparently the luxury market is very different from the rest of the market.

            But regardless of my incorrect assumption on car leasing becoming the standard, we agree that consumers going solar – by whatever approach and financial ROI, is a good thing …

  • Omega Centauri

    The best support they could do for the product would be for Best Buy to install panels on their stores. Putting your money where your PR is strenghtens the message.

    • http://zacharyshahan.com/ Zachary Shahan

      Best Buy is doing so in some locations, but could do so a lot more.

  • Ray Boggs

    Marketing the higher priced solar lease and PPA financing model to price sensitive consumers in a big box retail outlet is simply not a good idea.

    Many of these consumers will simply visit the Internet to comparison shop after being “educated” face to face by a salesperson, and will find higher performance products at much lower pricing online. Especially when compared to the pricing that’s available when purchasing a solar system outright.

    For example: After making 20 years worth of leasing payments on a $0 down solar lease, a homeowner will end up paying about 3 times the amount that the homeowner would have paid if he or she had purchased a solar system instead.

    A leased 4.75 kW system will typically cost the consumer $117.00 per month for a total cost of $28,080. The same purchased 4.75 kW system would cost the consumer $9,642 after applying the 30% federal tax credit. That’s a difference of $18,438 wasted when you lease.

    • Larry

      You are correct Roy, but some people will go with a $0 down lease because they see it as more “affordable”. They don’t want to borrow (or can’t) the money to purchase the system outright because they don’t want to incur more debt. For them a lease is the way to go. At least the power they consume is clean electricity even if it isn’t as economical as it could be.

      • Ray Boggs

        Like a magician fools his audience into “seeing” what he want them to see, solar lease salespeople are masters at showing their clients only a tiny sliver of the whole picture. For instance, why on Earth would anyone think that a solar lease is not a debt?

        First of all, the solar leasing company will record a UCC lien against your home, meaning that you cannot sell your home until you’ve paid off your lease. Second, read any solar lease contract under the heading of “Default” and you’ll find out that in most solar lease contract, if you’re more than 10 days late on any lease payment, the leasing company has the right to remove their system from your roof at your expense and then take legal action against you to collect the balance owed on your lease agreement.

        If that’s not a debt, then I don’t know what is. The leasing companies must train all of you salespeople to say the same thing. You’re the second solar lease salesman that I’ve come across that has made the claim that a solar lease is not a debt.

        And as for your statement: “but some people will go with a $0 down lease because they see it as more “affordable”.” Far more people will go with a $0 down solar loan because it allows the homeowner to shop for the best possible deal, “far better than any solar lease or PPA could ever offer” and FHA’s $0 down solar is not only easier to qualify for than a lease, but it also offers tax deductible interest. Leases and PPAs are harder to qualify for and they don’t offer tax deductible interest.

    • http://zacharyshahan.com/ Zachary Shahan

      Cash vs a lease is not what most people would consider. for most, it’s a lease vs a loan. From a very simplistic look at these options in 10 different cities, and it was a 50-50 split which was the best. http://solarlove.org/solar-leasing-worst-option-going-solar/

      • Ray Boggs

        I agree, but you’d be surprised at how many customers we encounter that want nothing to do with our $0 down loan offerings and instead simply write a check for their system.

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