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Solar company launches rental program in Boulder, Colorado

BOULDER, CO U.S.A. - A California-based solar company is launching its first residential solar installation in Colorado that will allow customers to take advantage of photovoltaic panels by renting instead of owning them.

SunRun is based in San Francisco and already has residential monthly service programs in California, Arizona and Massachusetts. The company, similar to others in the newly growing leasing market, offers an opportunity for people, who cannot pay the $25,000-and-up costs of buying solar, a chance to tap into the renewable energy market.

"Essentially the homeowner can pay for their solar power through monthly bills whereas if you purchase the system it could be several thousands of dollars up front," Katie Brodnik of SunRun said.
SunRun installed its solar panels in a Boulder home on Tuesday. The program, called Solar Lease is available to any Xcel customer.

Solar Lease is where homeowners pay SunRun a fixed-rate for the energy the solar panels produce and receive a bill for the remaining power usage from Xcel. Although SunRun promises no up-front costs and savings of up to 10 percent, the company does require an installation fee up to $1,000 and critics of leasing programs say there is no guarantee of savings.

People who are skeptical of such programs say many companies who offer the residential services count on regular energy prices going up for long-term savings. However, with 75 percent of Colorado's energy coming from coal, officials with SunRun say they believe energy costs will continue to rise in the state.

The leasing program requires an 18- to 20-year agreement and homeowners who use the program are not eligible for state and federal tax rebates because SunRun owns the solar panels. SunRun expects to have around 3,000 new customers in Colorado this year.

credit: KUSA-TV posted by Dan Boniface, Jessica Zartler Jan, 2010

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