Alternative Energy

Published on October 13th, 2010 | by Guest Contributor


Did You Know You Can Get Free Solar on Your Home in Eight US States?

There are now at least eight states in the US where you can get a free solar system to supply your home’s electricity at a lower rate than your utility does. These eight states allow private companies to compete with their utilities that sell power by the kilowatt hour, through a “lease” or a power purchase agreement, or PPA. However, if you live in one of the states that don’t supply free solar power, you can also take a look at these portable solar panels.

The three companies that stepped in to offer these $0 down options are Solar City (OR, CA,TX), SunRun (CA, AZ, CO, NJ, MA) and Gro Solar (PA, CA). Sungevity also offers yet another PPA, providing yet a third option for Californians.

Typically, the way they do this is to find investors or banks who will front the money for a large number of installations, and they own the system, so you don’t have to apply for a bank loan to put solar on your roof.

Once installed on your roof, you either make lease payments or just pay monthly for electricity by the kilowatt hour, the same way you pay your current electric utility.

Companies offering leases or PPAs can in many cases offer $0 down. You get a free solar system and start paying a lower monthly rate than before.


A housing development in California uses solar power

Once installed, then your total monthly electricity costs (any residual utility payment, plus lease or PPA payment for solar electricity) is lower from the first month, and the savings increase over time.

The limitations are simply that you must own the home, and have a good enough roof with enough sun access, and not be in foreclosure or behind in making payments on your mortgage. In states with tiered rates, like California, if you use a lot of electricity, now, the savings are much higher. Someone with a $500 bill now could save almost $200,000 over 18 years.

But every case is different. If you use very little electricity or have too much shade, the savings picture is different. Typically you need sunny roof spaces totaling about 20 feet by 10 feet in the sunshine states, and a larger area in the Northeast, but all the variables for you can be easily determined by the solar estimate by the company responsible for the solar system.

Because these companies are responsible for the system’s performance, it’s their dime. It is up to them to make the power they contract for. And the estimate is free.

If you live in one of these states the cost barrier to solar power just collapsed.

More: Solar energy facts. This post was retroactively sponsored by Best of Machinery

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