Not everyday do you find a contact for rooftop solar power system available on the discount coupon website Groupon. SolarCity and Groupon experimented by offering rooftop solar installation and maintenance contract over a period of two months and received quite a good response.
In June, the two Nasdaq-listed companies joined hands to launch a $1 coupon that provided a discount of $400 on a rooftop solar power system installation and maintenance contract. The contract also included free consultation, site survey, and custom design of the system.
The deal ended 28 July and over 830 consumers purchased the coupon, Groupon reported. Consumers whose homes quality for rooftop solar installation will have an option to choose from the various payment options and contracts offered by SolarCity.
The most popular option is currently the solar lease option wherein the consumers are not required to make any down payment at the time of installation of the system. Following the determination of energy demand and site survey, the installation takes just one day.
The solar power system is owned by SolarCity while the property owners sign a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA). The price of electricity under this PPA is lower than that offered by the utility, SolarCity claims. The consumers are shielded from any fluctuations in the electricity price as the agreement ensures a lock-in of prices for the duration of the PPA. The contract also provides for maintenance and insurance of the system, done by SolarCity at no extra cost.
Consumers may also purchase the solar power system themselves. This would make them eligible for tax credits from the state and federal government and they would not be required to pay any bill for the consumption of the electricity generated. The payback period for such systems is around 6 to 8 years. The cost of solar power system procurement includes 30-year protection plan which covers insurance and maintenance by SolarCity.
Innovative sales approach like the one implemented in partnership with Groupon would help SolarCity achieve its target to have 1 million customers by mid-2018. The company has seen a rapid growth in the number of customers over the last few quarters. During the quarter ending March 31, 2014 the company added 17,664 new customers – the largest quarterly addition ever. The company had over 110,000 customers at the end of Q1 2014. SolarCity now provides services in 15 states and expects to deploy 500-550 MW capacity this year.
Company’s rapid growth has been matched by investors eager to take a bite of the growing rooftop solar power systems pie. Earlier this year, Capital One Bank invested $100 million in SolarCity Fund to help finance residential solar power systems.