Solar Leasing Market Heats Up with SolarCity's Arrival

December 16, 2009
Reported by Staff

WESTMINSTER - Another California-based company is entering the solar leasing market. SolarCity® [1]announced its expansion to Colorado, and availability of its SolarLease™ option to homeowners at a news conference yesterday in Denver, which included a pep talk from Governor Ritter.

The company says it is offering the first zero-down leasing program in the state, and that its its pricing for a 5 kilowatt solar system in Colorado — appropriate for a typical three- or four-bedroom home — starts at $45 per month with no upfront cost, on approved credit. SolarLease includes custom design and installation, the company's SolarGuard® proactive monitoring service, repairs and insurance.

SolarCity's chief competition is SunRun [2], which launched its own leasing program in Colorado earlier this fall. Like SunRun, SolarCity's program will be initially available only to homeowners in the Xcel Energy territory. But there are significant differences. For one thing, SolarCity handles everything inhouse, providing not just the customer financing, but  also design and installation, proactive monitoring (via SolarGuard®), repairs and insurance through its SolarLease program. SunRun uses local PV integrators such as REC Solar  and Real Goods Solar to provide similar services.

SolarCity says its full-service approach enables it to offer the zero-down program, with lease payments typically ranging from $30 - $60  per month. According to the company's Jonathan Bass, the price may vary based on size complexity of installation and a few other factors, but this range is a good rule of thumb.

Governor Ritter attributed the arrival of the new company to Westminster to "forward-thinking legislation that has established Colorado as a national leader and positioning us for a quick and strong recovery." The company expects to hire 30-40 new employees in Colorado initially, and also plans to open a separate operations facility in the Denver area, with installations to begin this spring.

Additional congratulatory comments from politicians and SolarCity officials were plentiful. Among them:

"Because of the legislative changes we made last year, solar is now available in affordable monthly payments so that a typical Colorado family can now afford solar and save money on their utility bill. SolarCity's expansion to Colorado demonstrates the real value and economic benefits of green technology," said Colorado State Senator Morgan Carroll. "Not only are we committing ourselves to environmentally sound practices, we are creating good jobs in Colorado even in the midst of a recession."

"The New Energy Economy continues to be a shining light in Colorado, and I am so pleased that SolarCity has selected Colorado," said Colorado State Rep. Claire Levy. "Thanks to the Governor's support of legislation like SB 09-51, which helps homeowners finance renewable energy upgrades for their homes and businesses, more new energy firms are bound to continue coming to Colorado."

"As a result of visionary thinking by Governor Ritter, the Colorado legislature, Xcel Energy and the state's environmentally-minded citizens, Colorado has the potential to become a national leader in solar power adoption," said Lyndon Rive, CEO of SolarCity. "SolarCity is introducing an option that can allow Colorado homeowners to install solar with no upfront cost and begin saving money immediately. We believe SolarLease will ultimately allow thousands of Colorado homeowners to adopt clean power for less than they previously paid for electricity."