Thursday, May 12, 2011

Texas Energy Company Rents Solar Panels

Austin’s Green Mountain Energy Co. has introduced a program that allows residential customers to lease solar panels for a monthly fee.

Green Mountain, founded in 1997, was acquired last September for about $350 million. The company sells renewable energy from wind, water and solar sources.

The new program doesn’t sell the actual solar arrays to customers, but rents the equipment using a 20-year lease that includes installation, insurance, warranties and monitoring. Although Green Mountain is based in Austin, the power retailer’s product is not available to Austinites because Austin Energy, which is run by the city, doesn’t operate in a deregulated electric market.

In traditional markets, Green Mountain partners with utilities that want to offer renewable energy products to their environmentally conscious customers. The company is currently working with Portland General Electric as well as utilities in New York and New Jersey that run multi-supplier green pricing programs.

“Think of a car lease, where the homeowner leases the panel from a third party who ‘owns’ the solar array,” said Jason Sears, senior product manager at Green Mountain.

He said the upfront cost for a typical solar panel installation on a home sans rebates usually runs around $28,000.

So will the new program save customers any money on there monthly power bill? According to Green Mountain, not really.

In fact, it costs more money to put the solar array on your house than to take power straight from the grid, Sears said.

This is more about good environmental stewardship, he added.

“Customers do it because they believe it’s the right thing to do,” Sears said.

Still, there will be a day when going solar is economically beneficial, Sears said, and programs such as this are a step in that direction.

“As you increase demand, that’s what grows the market, and moves us toward a future where we can bring down the cost of solar energy,” Sears said.


1 comment:

Solar Panel New Jersey said...

I have to disagree with some comments made in this press release from Green Mountain. The upfront costs are expensive, that's true but solar panels are a long term project that over-time will see no monthly energy bills and free use of a natural source (the sun) to provide energy to millions of homes. Even the government are helping out with grants to incentivise a greener future, and the power from solar panels can make a home very self sufficient.