Tesla has kicked off a new initiative with progressive Vermont utility Green Mountain Power that lets customers lock in a flat monthly price for a solar-plus-storage system. The new program mirrors Tesla’s new tiered approach to solar rentals and loans, but with the addition of two Tesla Powerwalls to each system for an extra fee of $30 per month.
Low Monthly Expense vs. High Upfront Capital
The program increases the size of the solar systems at each tier to 6 kW, 8 kW, and 12 kW compared to Tesla’s rental scheme. The larger systems account for the higher average energy consumption of homes in the northeastern United States. The base cost of the solar at each tier is flat, with a 6 kW system setting homeowners back $76/month, an 8 kW system cost $102/month, and the 12 kW system being $153/month.
To make it as easy as possible for homeowners to go solar, the monthly payments were intentionally set to achieve price parity. This was accomplished by setting up a 20-year loan instead of the standard power purchase agreement. That means that at the end of the 20-year term, homeowners own their solar system, which is great. On the other hand, it also means that homeowners are paying interest on their solar system for 20 years, which is not the best financial decision.
Dropping the payment terms and 4.99% APR into a loan calculator returns some interesting data points that remind us that taking out loans are not generally good financial decisions. In this case, the single monthly payment translates to total solar payments of $18,240 for the 6 kW system over the 240 month / 20 year term, and that’s after the federal tax credit of 30%.
The loans are structured with a 30% prepayment that must be paid back to the bank by month 18 to let homeowners recoup the federal tax credit on their system and roll that back into the loan. It’s a nice little trick to allow homeowners to finance solar without having to worry about paying interest on the portion covered by the federal tax credit.
At the end of the day, even with these less than attractive loan rates and interest paid, these systems can save homeowners money on their electricity bills. The cherry on top is that they can also store some of that power at home for the next time the grid goes down due to a toppled tree or winter storm.
To help homeowners understand how the addition of solar and storage will impact their utility bills, Tesla put together a nice chart that lays out a few examples for a few different consumption scenarios. In each, the solar + storage fees are the same at each tier, with the balance of the power usage in the home being covered with grid power.
Locking in a flat solar plus storage rate not only ensures that the majority of power consumed in the home won’t go up in price — Green Mountain Power is also offering a special deal for customers that opt in for a solar-plus-storage bundle. The utility is guaranteeing a maximum price increase for grid power of 2% per year for the next 20 years. That gives customers the peace of mind that their electricity rates will be not only heavily supplemented with solar power, but that any remaining power they do need to purchase is insulated from electricity price hikes in the future.
All Green Mountain Power customers who own their homes are eligible for the new program as long as they are willing to install solar and storage at home. The two Powerwalls help Green Mountain Power grow its ever-increasing pool of residential energy storage that has been pooled together into a massive Virtual Power Plant (VPP). These distributed batteries allow GMP to pull power from the distributed pool instead of having to start up a peaker plant when the grid needs more power to cover surges.
The $30 for two Powerwalls price is the same monthly price that GMP was offering to customers back in 2017 when it first rolled out its $15/month for a Tesla Powerwall deal, just without a downpayment. Since then, the utility has saved hundreds of thousands of dollars thanks to the VPP, including during a single heat wave where it was able to leverage the distributed batteries to save $500,000 in a single week.
Icing On The Cake
Tesla is currently the only installer participating in the new solar-plus-storage bundle deal with Green Mountain Power, which comes with some benefits of its own. Through the special bundle deal, Green Mountain Power is offering participating customers $1,500 off of a Tesla Model 3 and $600 for a home charger. That’s a pretty sweet deal that lets customers clean up their home energy footprint, store their own power, buy an EV, and power the whole shebang off of the sun.
Driving an electric vehicle that is powered by the sun still sounds like science fiction, but deals like the GMP Bundle from Green Mountain Power make the end to end personal clean energy dream very easy to opt into.
If you’re in the market for a Tesla, feel free to use my Tesla Referral code for your purchase: http://ts.la/kyle623. You can also use my referral code to get a reward for purchasing a Tesla Solar system. Doing so gives the buyer (and me) 2,000 miles of free Supercharging credit if purchased by the end of September and allows us to cover Tesla even better in the future.