It’s sadly ironic that the large solar companies that are making residential solar power happen in a big way are also impeding its true potential.
The reason for this is fairly simple – these companies have considerable overhead and investors that need to see a large enough return on investment. Unfortunately, this is just business as usual. If these companies call themselves “Green”, they’re referring to money not the environment.
SolarCity, SunRun, and Verengo are just a few of the leading residential solar power players in the industry. There are quite a few others that also offer the same payment schemes to every potential customer. Unwary homeowners can easily get sold on the idea that a long term solar lease is actually beneficial compared to the alternatives. Actually, the alternatives are obviously not mentioned by these companies.
While these companies are managing to get thousands of people producing clean energy, they are also perpetuating the myth that solar power is too expensive. The fact of the matter is that the true cost of solar power is much lower than what these companies are charging. Again, these companies need to make a large enough profit to continue expanding with their business model. Many homeowners who look into getting pricing from these companies will assume that this is simply what solar power costs.
So what’s the basic message that we’re getting from the large solar power companies? It’s something like this – We can have a clean, renewable power revolution, reduce air pollution, create jobs, and improve the overall economy….only if we can make a ton of money first.
Many of the homeowners who have had solar installed on their homes over the past few years have done so because they pay some of the highest rates in America. It’s easy for the large solar leasing companies to offer payments that are less than what these homeowners are currently paying. Had these homeowners done a bit of research, they would have learned that they could have acquired their own financing and saved a good deal of money compared to the lease arrangement.
What about the millions of American homeowners that pay a little closer to the national average of about 12 cents per kilowatt hour? Many of these people have been approached by the large solar companies. The leasing companies often have to turn these people down (or homeowners say no first) because they can’t beat their current rates. The reality is that solar power makes financial sense for many of these homeowners. Had they looked into the true cost of self-financed solar, they could have said yes to solar.
Many banks and credit unions now offer government-backed, green energy loans at competitive rates.
So what’s the true cost of residential solar power? Well, its much less than what the large leasing companies are charging. It’s also less than the current nation average for conventional energy. It’s quite possible to pay no more than 10 cents/kwh for solar power right now.
The basic problem is one of awareness. The good work being done by the smaller solar companies that are truly looking out for their customers’ best interest will be heard. That word of mouth will start to spread more quickly than the mass marketing campaigns of the larger companies. Real value will triumph over misleading marketing.
While solar power installations have dramatically increased in the last few years, there’s still much to be done. Once the word gets out that the average homeowner can pay less for solar power than what they’re currently paying, we’ll start to see the solar power revolution truly take off.