13 Mar 2014:
Solar City Partnering With
Best Buy to Sell Residential Solar Leases
A Solar City residential installation in Hawaii
Solar City, a company that installs and leases solar panels to homeowners, is partnering
with big-box electronics seller Best Buy in hopes of boosting solar sales in California, Arizona, Hawaii, Oregon, and New York. Solar City will station salespeople in 60 stores throughout those states to pitch the benefits of their 20-year solar contracts directly to consumers, and Best Buy will take a cut of the sales. Based on a homeowner's utility company and monthly electric bill, Solar City representatives will be able to quickly give potential customers an estimate of the costs and savings associated with a solar lease. Leasing enables a homeowner to avoid the large upfront costs associated with purchasing and installing solar panels by spreading those investments over a 20-year lease and locking in a set rate for electricity generated by the panels. Solar City and its competitors cannot guarantee savings, however, since the contracted rate could be higher or lower than a utility company's rate 10 or 20 years in the future. Residential solar installations have accelerated in recent years — 2013 showed the fastest growth ever, and 2014 should break that record — largely due to the popularity of leasing programs.