Sunday, October 11, 2009

Solar for Free

If you could get solar energy, rather than the standard grid mix, at exactly the same price, would you do it? Seems like a simple choice.

For most people, the biggest hurdle for getting solar panels on their home is the cost. If you are in Oregon and own a home, and would like to have solar panels on your roof to generate electricity, the deal you have been waiting for is here. Solar electricity at the same price you are already paying.

SolarCity is now offering residential "Solar Leases" in Oregon. A solar lease is an agreement to purchase the power that the solar panels produce; the solar panels are put on your home and you agree to buy the electricity they generate for a fixed period of time.

You don't own the panels, but you don't have to pay for them. And if something goes wrong (like an inverter going out), you don't have to pay for that either. SolarCity owns and maintains all the equipment.

SolarCity was founded in California and is (not surprisingly) the state's biggest solar installer. They expanded into Oregon over a year ago but had only been servicing commercial customers until now. During this time they have installed systems on Walmart, Whole Foods, & Intel to name a few.

With this track record and clientèle, they appear legitimate.

If you sell your home, you can transfer the agreement to the new owners, or prepaid it and make it a selling point for the house. SolarCity is flexible. At the end of the lease, you can have them take it all away, or (optionally) buy the equipment. Or, here is one of the cool parts, even have them replace it with the latest and greatest in PV technology.

There are, of course, considerations, such as trees, that must be looked at to determine if solar is right for your home. You can contact them for a free sight assessment.

If you are concerned about signing a lease, think about it this way: in our modern world, going without electricity is not a practical option, so you are, in a manner, already in a lifetime lease agreement with your utility company. Why not lease solar instead?

SolarCity Residential


  1. Thanks for this post! We are moving soon and will definitely consider this for the new house - if it qualifies. We already get PGE's "green power" package, but I assume that locally produced solar power is even better (though what about the costs of producing those new solar panels. Hmmm...). Again, thanks!

  2. Alison, I hope you enjoy your new home and I hope it qualifies. When the power is produced right where it is used, there are no transfer losses. About producing the panels: depending on the process and where they are made, it can take 1-3 years to "pay-off" the production footprint. Non-renewables can never pay-off, their social cost footprint only grows. The rest of the 20+ lifespan is all renewable clean energy.


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