A few months back, I noted in my blog a number of problems that had begun to arise in the booming residential solar electric lease industry. These difficulties, which posed a number of significant unforeseen drawbacks for many consumers who elected to tap this alternative energy source, were beginning to cause many to question the benefits of leasing residential solar electric systems.
Solar Electricity Lease Industry
As an apparent result of these and other similar developments, Solar City, the largest installer of residential solar electric systems in the country, announced that it would now begin to offer zero down financing for the sale and purchase of its residential solar electric systems. Previously, Solar City only offered its residential solar electric systems for lease, not sale, despite the fact that many of its smaller competitors have been selling their systems on these terms.
Solar City Selling Its Systems
By offering to sell its systems on these financing terms, Solar City has entered into a market that it had previously ignored in favor of its exclusive pursuit of its third-party leasing business, in reliance on an economic model based on the lease payment revenue stream. In addition, this shift will allow Solar City to expand into markets that ban these leases, such as North Carolina and Georgia.
From my point of view, this change in direction alleviates many of the issues that I noted in my earlier blog article—avoiding potential adverse property rights, reducing the downside risk of being unable to obtain the necessary approvals for installation of the system, and eliminating roadblocks to a potential future sale of the residence that might arise if there is a solar lease on the property. And by having this additional option, homeowners now have the opportunity to make an informed decision to choose between these two methods of generating residential solar electricity.
Still, homeowners are well advised to take a close look at their future plans for their property in considering which residential solar electricity arrangements to pursue, and I recommend seeking the assistance of counsel in evaluating these options if the choice is not evident.