Solar leasing bringing solar power to more people

Thursday, January 26, 2012 @ 08:01 AM
posted by rene5432

More often than not, only relatively well-off people have been willing to invest in solar power installation in years past. Though these systems have gone down in price, the up-front costs remain substantial, discouraging many from making the leap.

But the National Renewable Energy Laboratory released a new report suggesting that the solar industry in California has seen a boost from a somewhat unexpected source.

Many states, including California, have substantially increased their support for renewable electricity, offering a variety of rebates and other incentives. But the report suggests that the biggest difference has actually been the introduction of new financing plans, such as solar leases, which allow homeowners to add solar power systems at little or no up-front cost, instead paying a fixed monthly fee.

"What is so interesting about the southern California data is that the strong decrease in PV prices – from lower retail costs and stronger federal incentives – didn't pick up a new demographic," NREL's Easan Drury, the lead author of the report, said in a statement. "But the new business model – leasing – did pick up a new customer demographic."

USAToday reports that solar leasing was already responsible for one-third of all new residential solar power installations in 2010, but these results suggest that figure could grow.

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