SolarCity on Monday announced a new leasing program designed to attract San Francisco residents, who are eligible to take advantage of the city’s new incentive program.
The company is one of many solar power system installers and operators hoping to increase its sales by tapping into San Francisco’s new GoSolarSF program, which went into effect July 1.
GoSolarSF, the largest municipal solar incentive program in the country, will set aside between $2 million and $5 million annually for 10 years to help residents and businesses offset the costs of installing solar power panels on their properties (see San Francisco Solar Incentive Becomes Official).
The program provides $3,000 to $6,000 for each residential solar installation and up to $10,000 for each commercial system. For the first year, $3 million is available for home-and-business owners, with an additional $1.5 million for low-income residents.
SolarCity’s new leasing program would cost homeowners as low as $25 per month for a 2.4-kilowatt system. The system could shave $60 off a $100 electricity bill. The $40 new monthly bill plus the $25 monthly payment to SolarCity means homeowners would spend about $65 a month.
SolarCity’s program requires residents to sign a 15-year lease. The monthly payment would increase 3.5 percent per year.
The company, which serves California, Arizona and Oregon, launched its first residential leasing program four months ago. Residential leasing deals now account for 90 percent of its sales (see SolarCity Sees Sales Spike). Before it debuted the leasing program, SolarCity customers would have paid all of the equipment and installation costs, though the expenses could have been defrayed through bank loans.
Competition for business in San Francisco will be fierce. Companies say they expect the $3 million set aside for this year to run out quickly, in spite of the fact that the city has received fewer than 10 applications so far (see San Francisco to Boost Small Wind). Sungevity, a solar power system installer in Berkeley, Calif. expects that GoSolarSF will reach its cap by the end of this month (see Solar Installers Race for SF Subsidies).
With the subsidies, San Francisco homeowners could pay Sungevity as little as $2,000 to install a 1.4-kilowatt system, which comes out to less than the cumulative total price of SolarCity’s new lease – but requires more cash upfront.