There are already a lot of questions about solar power, but when you add solar leasing to those questions, it raises an entirely new set of concerns. The cost of installation is still an expense that can sometimes be a determining factor for many when they consider getting solar panels, even though the cost savings over the long run would be more than worth the initial investment. There are some who have chosen to rent solar panels, which is at best a questionable practice. The only initial savings is marginal to existing cost of utilities, a cost that is not a savings in the long run.
The solar industry has been growing exponentially over the last decade as both the federal and state governments have programs and tax credits. Whenever there is this kind of growth there are going to be companies that try to take advantage of consumers. To make sure you are not duped by a company that promises far more than it delivers, you need to understand several aspects of the business.
The Initial Investment
One of the reasons that these businesses are able to convince customers to lease panels is because they offer “no money down” at the beginning. Solar leasing sounds attractive because you don’t have to have any money to do it. This scenario should sound familiar; it is exactly what happened with the subprime mortgage crisis just a few years ago. And like that “deal” it is rife with issues and much higher costs in the long run.
Similar to the mortgage crisis, the contracts are incredibly difficult to understand. Trying to determine the actual cost and terms takes a considerable amount of time that most people feel is not worth it. This is something these companies count on. Were you to actually make enough sense of these opaque contracts, you would find that the promised savings are based on an electrical price hike that greatly exceeds actual expectations. Ultimately, the savings you think you will find through leasing are more costly than if you had paid for the installation and owned the panels outright.
Investigation into Inaccurate Claims
Some of these practices were recently called into question by both the US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission. As a result of the investigation, several steps have been taken.
The Consumer Financial protection Bureau was asked to investigate these solar leasing companies by members of the House of Representatives.
Other House members requested that Ramirez, currently the chairwoman of the Federal Trade Commission, conduct a separate investigation into some of the questionable practices and sales tactics of these companies. One of the primary concerns highlighted by this request was that the solar leasing companies were actually putting themselves in the position of selling financial products so that they could benefit from the state programs (such as the one in Washington).
As one of the states seeing some of the greatest growth in solar energy, Arizona has a vested interest, so that the Arizona Corporation Commission has started its own investigation lead by the state.
Protecting Yourself and Your Investment
Solar energy does stand to save you a considerable amount of money in the long run, but you have to do the research. You should focus on companies that provide details that you can verify. Going entirely “off the grid” vs. being “on grid” is still not a practical expectation, so if you find a company claiming that you will be free of your current provider, they are not being honest.
The biggest reason leasing does not make sense is because of the expense of installation. The cost to remove those panels at the end of the lease will basically negate the benefits. For the most part solar leasing does not make sense because it adds an additional cost that will not go away, unlike buying your solar panels. If you purchase your panels, they will eventually be paid off, which means that you will continue to have considerably lower energy costs without any additional costs.
Benefits of Financing
With solar financing, SolarGaines offers many of the benefits promised by solar leasing companies, but the difference is that in the end you own the solar panels. Since the cost of installation is the greatest reason why people decide not to go solar, SolarGaines has set up a program that will help you overcome the biggest obstacle. By spreading the cost of the installation over months instead of requiring it upfront, you will be able to start repaying the costs as you start to see the savings.