BEGINNING

Until 2008, if you wanted to power your house with solar electricity, you had to purchase the equipment yourself. This could cost between $20,000 and $30,000. In 2008 companies like Sunrun (a Clarus Power partner) invented solar-as-a-service- they purchase the system for you, have it installed on your roof and you simply purchase power under a long-term (twenty-year) agreement.

In some markets (depending on regulatory requirements) that long-term agreement is a Lease and in some markets it is a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA). Under a Lease you “rent” the equipment from the solar company and under a PPA you purchase all of the electricity generated by the solar panels.

In both instances, it often requires no upfront investment (that’s right, it’s $0 down!), generates 20% savings on your electricity bills, and comes with free maintenance and monitoring for the term of the contract.

This is a frequent question that varies by home and occupant and typically depends on two factors: how much electricity you use and where you live.

  • How much electricity you use: A system is designed to replace about 80% of your electricity usage. Therefore, the more you use the bigger your system (this is why we need your power bill when designing the perfect system for you).
  • Where you live: the location of your home impacts the amount of electricity generated by your system. Certain areas of the country are sunnier than others (like southern California or Arizona) and certain areas have many trees (like New England) that may create shade over your panels.

Once you sign your solar agreement, the permitting and installation process takes, on average, sixty days and contains the following six steps:

  1. A site visit: the solar company will coordinate a time for one of its representatives to come see your roof. During this step the solar representative confirms that they can build the system that was remotely designed for you.
  2. Final design approval: after the site visit, the solar company will make any changes to the plans and send them to you for final approval.
    Building permits: the solar company will pull building permits for the designed system.
  3. Installation: Once all permits are pulled your system will be installed. This typically only takes 1-2 days.
  4. Inspection: After installation the local building departments will review the work that was performed and sign off on it.
  5. Utility interconnection: The last step in the process is for your utility to connect the system to the grid.

DURING

With solar, you turn your home into a hybrid. When it’s sunny out you use the electricity produced by your solar panels. When it’s cloudy, or at night time you use the electricity produced by your local utility.

If your panels produce electricity and you are not home to use it, it is fed back into the grid and you get credit against future usage. This is called net metering.

When the weather is cloudy your system will still produce electricity, just at a lower rate than when it is sunny. You will barely notice, though, because your hybrid home is still connected to the grid.

For safety reasons, your system is required to shut down during a utility power outage. When the power returns, your system will start producing electricity again.

That is not a problem. Your PPA or Lease allows you to temporarily remove the system (at your own expense) if you need to repair your roof.


FINISHING

The choice is yours! You can renew the agreement on an annual basis for as long the system is economical; you can buy the system for its fair market value; or you can have the system removed at no additional cost.

There is a lot to think about during your move and our partners make solar one less thing to worry about with their flexible options. If you move you have three alternatives:

1) simply assign the contract to the new homeowner (subject to the terms of the agreement)

2) prepay for the remaining life of your solar contract and assign it to the new homeowner free and clear

3) purchase the system and have it installed on your new home (at your own expense).