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Published on April 23rd, 2018 | by Tina Casey

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Sunrun Sneezes, Florida Catches Rooftop Solar Fever

April 23rd, 2018 by  


So, this could be pretty big. The leading solar company Sunrun just won the right to pack up its practically zero-down rooftop solar leasing program and take it to sunny Florida, so sayeth the state’s Public Service Commission.

Here’s the lowdown from Sunrun:

This lease can provide Floridians an easy, clean way to power their homes without dealing with the high upfront cost of solar panels, equipment, and installation. Sunrun will also fully maintain the system, offering households a hassle-free option for going solar.

No, Really, No Money Up-Front For Rooftop Solar

Those of you in certain solar-friendly states may be scratching your heads right about now. After all, zero-down leasing is already a thing.

Yes, it is — in some states. Not exactly in Florida, though, until last week’s ruling.

Sunrun explains:

Until today, households in Florida were unable to lease solar systems. This morning, the Florida Public Service Commission voted in accordance with clearly defined state law to ensure homeowners have the right to lease a solar system from Sunrun.

The issue is that in Florida, it is illegal to sell electricity to somebody unless you are a utility. The Florida PSC ruling clarified that no, Sunrun is not a utility. Logic ensues.

Rooftop Solar Gold Rush!

Bloomberg is among those not going out on a limb to predict a photovoltaic stampede in Florida — yet:

Leases let consumers get rooftop panels with little or no upfront costs. Absent leasing, homeowners have to pay for the systems themselves or finance them — a barrier that has helped utilities like NextEra Energy Inc.’s Florida Power & Light Co. fend off a wave of residential solar. NextEra declined to comment.

The news is only a few days old, but prospects do look good for job growth in Florida’s rooftop solar market. Sunrun has already established a foothold in Florida in anticipation of the PSC ruling, so hold on to your hats.

Meanwhile, What About That Solar Tariff?

If you do see a surge of rooftop solar activity in Florida, don’t be shocked. Solar industry stakeholders were anticipating a steep downturn in the PV industry after President* Trump’s solar tariff went into effect in February, but that hasn’t happened.

Nationally, PV jobs are ticking up and the Florida PSC underscores something CleanTechnica has been harping on lately: state level action makes all the difference when it comes to rooftop PV jobs.

Just take a look over at Nevada, where the solar stakeholders — including Sunrun — went into boycott mode over a controversial rooftop solar ruling in 2015.

Faced with thousands of job losses and an angry solar-loving populace, state officials backed off and revived Nevada’s net metering rules. The industry — including Sunrun again — is now humming along nicely.

Solar Power For Everybody

By the way, shoutout to Sunrun for expanding its partnership with our friends over at GRID Alternatives, a non-profit focusing on solar jobs and PV for low income households.

The movement to bring non-profits into the rooftop field is also gaining steam with RE-volve. The organization’s financing program is aimed at bringing rooftop solar to non-profits including homeless shelters.

RE-volve is backed by activist and actor Leonardo DiCaprio, so keep an eye on that one, too.

Follow me on Twitter.

*As of this writing.

Image (cropped): via Sunrun.


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About the Author

specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.



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