With the rising cost of energy and the depletion of resources traditionally used to power our lives, homeowners all over the nation are searching for alternate sources of energy. Of primary interest are solar panels, which provide free, renewable power by capturing energy from the sun. The problem? The upfront investment -- typically over $30,000 -- exceeds most homeowners' budgets.
Enter solar leasing. By offering free installation of roof panels in exchange for long-term contracts for homeowners to buy the electricity they produce, solar installers are gaining converts nationwide. At the New York Times, Diane Cardwell explains:
Installers, often working through big-box chains like Home Depot or Lowe’s, are taking advantage of hefty tax breaks, creative financing techniques and a glut of cheap, Chinese-made panels to makeaccessible to the mass market for the first time. The number of residential and commercial installations more than doubled over the last two years to 213,957, according to Greentech Media, a research firm.
The solar leasing model allows consumers to reduce power bills, avoid fluctuating electricity prices, and steer clear of the complexities of credits, rebates, grants, and tax breaks. It is most effective in regions where electricity prices are high and incentives are robust, like the Northeast, Hawaii, and California, the country's largest market, where 70 percent of residential customers have opted for a solar leasing arrangement.
Photo: A Roof Diagnostics crew installing panels in Holmdel, N.J. (Marc Steiner for The New York Times)