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Home solar panels with little or no money down

Published by The Editors | Filed under photovoltaic

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Do you want to power your home with solar generated electricity, but don’t want to (or can’t) make the initial large investment in photovoltaic panels? Thanks to companies like SolarCity, you can get your own residential solar power system for little or no money down. (Kind of like, “No cash, no credit, no problem.” Maybe not the ‘no credit’ part.)

Enter SolarCity. After the Budwigs put $1,000 down, the three-year-old startup installed panels on their modest ranch home that meet almost all the family’s electricity needs. SolarCity also took care of the many complexities that make going solar such a hassle. The company designed and purchased the system and lined up building permits, financing, and government tax breaks. In return, the Budwigs agreed to lease the system for 15 years at $73 a month—$95 a month less than they pay, on average, for conventional power. They expect to recoup their $1,000 investment in less than a year.

SolarCity provides leasing of solar panels to both residences and commercial properties. They’re currently only in California, Oregon and Arizona, but plan to expand to 10 more states by the end of 2010. A competitor, SunRun, offers solar panel leasing in California, Arizona and Massachusetts. Do a search for ‘solar panel leasing [your state or city or community]’ to find other companies that offer this type of home solar panel power option, but do your due dilligence!

Key Stats: Common benchmark is that alternative energy needs to product electricity at 10 cents per kilowatt hour, which would still be 40% more expensive than coal plant produced electricity.

Resources: Business Week - The Next Energy Innovators

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