At the October 26 Town Hall for Solar Santa Monica, a crowd of about 60 people listened and asked questions of a panel of solar marketers addressing ways to get solar “with no money down.”

In the marketplace today, “no money down” means via a lease or a Power Purchase Agreement.  Both methods of financing are now being offered for residential systems in Santa Monica.   

The speakers came from Solar Santa Monica’s list of Preferred Contractors. 


Naturally, every “deal” is different, but the basics to understand are these:


  ·  With a lease, you pay a fixed monthly “rent” for panels on your roof.The leasing company takes care of maintenance; you get the power. To be eligible, you must have a good credit rating.


 ·   In a PPA, you pay directly for the power your system provides, but at a price that is less than you would pay for power from the utility.  Again, you must qualify, and again you are freed from system maintenance.


  ·    In some cases, you can “pre-pay” – that is, put down an amount at the beginning of the deal – and thus buy down your monthly payment.  (It’s like buying power for the next 10 years at today’s prices.)


   ·   At the end of the lease or PPA period, typically 20 years, you will have to decide what to do: extend the arrangement, buy the system from the company, or ask that it be removed.  (Not a lot of detail on this, since no leases have yet come to an end.) 


Many questions were raised:  What happens if the property is sold mid-contract?  How is the system sized?  What if the company goes out of business?  Each contractor had slightly different answers, so be sure to compare carefully before you make a decision between a lease or a PPA.  And don’t overlook that old standby, direct ownership, if you have the money to invest and want the very best return.

Source: Solar Santa Monica