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Published on September 19th, 2010 | by Susan Kraemer


With Hawaii, Cheap Solar PPAs Are Now in Nine US States

September 19th, 2010 by  

With the addition of Hawaii; the latest state to allow SunRun solar power purchase agreements to compete with utility power, homeowners in nine states now have the option for solar that’s cheaper from the first month than dirty power and costs little or nothing to start.

In Hawaii, SunRun hits the sweet spot, because the state not only has good clean energy legislation (meaning that it allows competition from clean energy to green its grid) but it also has an almost complete dependence on fossil fuels.

Every year, Hawaii spends  over $5,000 for oil to power each homeowner. The state gets 90% of its power from dirty energy. It is about on a par with Wyoming, or Kentucky, but worse, since it is all imported. This combination (clean legislation/dirty dependence) makes Hawaii ideal.

Usually, states that are as dependent on fossil fuels as this are also very unfriendly to clean energy, with the result that solar residential PPAs are just not allowed to compete in those states. Most of the South for example, won’t allow competition with dirty energy.

The ideal states for a residential PPA are those with good clean energy legislation to encourage clean energy to compete with dirty energy, such as the states that are members of RGGI, that are already operating a kind of cap and trade to clean the grid. New Jersey and Massachusetts allows residential solar PPAs and leases.

States like California which have decoupled utilities so PG&E pushes homeowners to be more efficient – because their paycheck depends on it: they earn more when they save more – rather than sell more – power.

With the addition of Hawaii, solar leases or PPAs are now available in seven states from solar financing company SunRun (California, parts of Arizona, Colorado, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Hawaii). SolarCity, the other giant player in zero-investment solar (with leases in their case) also covers some of those states and Oregon and Texas. Cheap leases or PPAs are also offered by installation companies Sungevity and GroSolar in some of these states.

For homeowners in these nine states, home solar can be essentially free now. With solar leasing or PPAs, you pay zero or just a few hundred down, and then pay a lower rate monthly than for your utility power. You don’t save as much in the long run as if you bought the system, but you don’t have to buy anything, and you do still save hundreds of thousands of dollars over time on electricity.

Oh, yeah. It’s also sunny in Hawaii, just like it is in California, Arizona, Texas, Colorado, and lots of US states. But almost any old sun will do, actually. The real determining factor is whether there is sunny energy legislation in the state.

Image: Sarah Camp
Susan Kraemer@Twitter
(Disclaimer: After I got my own solar power through the SunRun PPA, I asked SunRun if I could help other homeowners get a solar PPA too) 


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About the Author

writes at CleanTechnica, CSP-Today and Renewable Energy World.  She has also been published at Wind Energy Update, Solar Plaza, Earthtechling PV-Insider , and GreenProphet, Ecoseed, NRDC OnEarth, MatterNetwork, Celsius, EnergyNow, and Scientific American. As a former serial entrepreneur in product design, Susan brings an innovator's perspective on inventing a carbon-constrained civilization: If necessity is the mother of invention, solving climate change is the mother of all necessities! As a lover of history and sci-fi, she enjoys chronicling the strange future we are creating in these interesting times.    Follow Susan on Twitter @dotcommodity.

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