Prepaid Solar Leases
The answer is - the prepaid lease is a good deal. A suspiciously good deal...
Let's look at the math. The following numbers are taken from an actual lease proposal written in 2012 for a property in northern California:
Since, with a lease, the leasing company keeps the credits/rebates, a homeowner needs to start his decision process with the $22,173 figure. "OK, Mr. Lease Company, I can OWN this solar installation for just over $22k. What can you do for me that would make me want to lease it, instead?"
This particular lease company's response was as follows:
OK - What's the catch? If you went to lease a car for 20 years, they wouldn't charge you less than the cost to purchase the car. Yet that's what's going on with solar.
There must be a downside.
Honestly - I can't think of any. The only argument I can come up with against a prepaid lease (versus outright purchase) is that, since you don't own the system, you can't mess with it - you can't just get tired of it one day, and stack it behind the garage. And if you sell your home, the new owner can't remove the panels until the lease is over. But, realistically, that installation is providing free electricity. Few home buyers are going to want to dismantle it.
back to: Should I Lease?
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