How to Get Someone Else to Pay for Installing Solar Panels on Your Home

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A woman renovating a 1902 farmhouse and barn in Connecticut explains how, thanks to various government incentives, she can have solar panels installed for $0 upfront and monthly lease payments that are lower than her current electric bills.

Alexandra Marks, who is blogging about her experiences for the Christian Science Monitor, writes that she expects to save a ton of money by leasing solar panels rather than buying them outright. Thanks to federal and state incentives (and Connecticut isn’t the only state to have such incentives), the government apparently picks up a huge part of the tab. Marks explains that she simply found a solar installer to come and check out her house to give her an estimate. And then:

A few days later, I got the analysis. I currently use 7500 kilowatt hours (kWh) a year. As a result, he proposed I install a 6600 watt solar panel system, which should produce, based on my barn’s angle toward the sun, about 8,000 kWh a year. The cash cost of such system: $46,200.00. With state rebate of $10,000 and federal tax credit (about $10,000 as well), that would bring the upfront cost down to $26,000 and that doesn’t include sales tax.

That’s still pretty high for most homeowners.

With the lease program, the upfront costs are zero. The federal and state incentives go to the leasing company, which essentially gives me a fixed rate loan for the remaining $26,000. I pay for that loan with a fixed monthly payment of $99 for the next 15 years.

After that, the company reappraises the solar system, and offers me another five-year lease, which, because of depreciation of the system, is estimated to be around $30 a month.

It does sound too good to be true: no upfront costs, fixed monthly costs that are lower than my current electric bills, and there’s no sales tax on the lease.

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