We've covered the perception challenges faced by the solar industry when it comes to consumers installing PV on their rooftops -- many think it's too expensive.
We've also covered the steps the industry is taking to lower the "soft costs" of residential solar installation.
Companies offerring residential leases:
SolarCity (with their own installers)
Sungevity (working with a network of installers)
SunRun (working with a network of installers)
As well as:
SunEdison also works in residential.
One more if you count Citizenrē.
It's a list that can afford to be longer in order to get solar on the roofs of homeowners.
There's now another name on that list: Centrosolar. The firm just announced the launch of a new residential solar leasing program, developed in collaboration with BrightGrid, a renewable energy finance company.
This program has its own unique approach.
While the incumbent solar leasers are brand-agnostic, Centrosolar's leasing program is designed to support the installation of Centrosolar’s own warrantied ‘solar-in-a-box’ system, as well as providing a service support network across the U.S. It's initially available in the leading solar states -- Arizona, California and New Jersey.
BrightGrid, a firm we've covered before, provides the financing platforms for installers. The process includes point-of-sale financing, something the solar industry has spoken of but has not initiated until now.
Centrosolar is publicly traded in Europe, with 2010 revenues of $540 million and over 1,000 employees at its German production facilities.
BrightGrid comes out of New York and was founded in late 2009 with funding from a group called PanAsia Solar. BrightGrid's "technology platform" is meant to escort the residential solar project from origination of the customer through making a proposal, booking the sale, and finding the right solar system and installer, as well as servicing the account.
BrightGrid provides a good definition of the solar lease: In a lease arrangement, the leasing company covers the cost of installing solar panels, typically on the rooftop of the customer’s home. In this model, the leasing company owns the system, rather than the homeowner. Solar leasing companies receive any state and federal tax credits and other incentives available for alternative-energy installations. The homeowner agrees to pay the leasing company a predetermined monthly payment over the term of the lease, and receives the financial and environmental benefits from all of the power produced by the solar energy system. Solar customers buy additional power as needed from their local utility at the going rate. They may also sell excess energy back to the local utility.
Solar leases typically run between 15 and 20 years. BrightGrid’s lease has an 18-year term. If the customer sells the home within that time, the lease agreement transfers to the new homeowner, pending credit approval. Alternately, the customer may buy the lease from BrightGrid.
According to the company, a BrightGrid lease will drop the homeowner's electric bill by 10 percent to 20 percent.
SunRun is similar to BrightGrid but not a direct competitor -- SunRun is investing in branding and in the origination of business, positioning itself as a brand for consumers. Meanwhile, BrightGrid sees itself as the "Intel Inside" of home solar installation.