The Solar Debate: Buy or Lease?

This last year has seen a tremendous amount of change in the offers available from Arizona Solar Companies.  When utility incentives were at $3.00/Watt, customers were literally flocking to purchase their solar systems.  By doing so, consumers were able to take advantage of the utility incentives as well as the 30% Federal Tax credit and the $1,000.00 Arizona state tax credit.  Buying your solar system just plain made great economic sense.  In 2010, utility incentives started to decline and continue to do so as of this writing.  The interesting part of the solar financial formula, is that even with today’s lower incentives, the net cost to the consumer is essentially the same as it was with the $3.00/Watt incentives.  That is a direct result of lower pricing from the solar manufacturer’s and solar integrators competing at tighter labor costs.

Enter solar leasing.  With its rapid growth in late 2010 and into 2011, consumers are finding it considerably easier to get solar on their roof with a whole lot less cash outlay.  The leasing companies take the utility incentives and tax credits, but the consumer gets some great value propositions in exchange.  Solar leasing companies offer a 20 year production guarantee, a benefit not available with the purchase of solar.  The leasing company also provides monitoring, insurance and covers all products, even when they are out of the manufacturer’s warranty.  The consumers are winning with this new solar leasing opportunity.  Most of the valley’s solar companies have found leasing partners that allow them to add solar leases to their product offering.  I see it remaining as a viable option for Arizona consumers.

Gary Held