New solar deal? Not in Michigan

17 May 2011

A company named Sungevity just announced a deal with Lowes in an effort to make solar panels more of an off-the-shelf commodity rather than some sort of unique exotic product that people talk about but don’t buy.   Sungevity has a motto of “making it easy” for homeowners and the way they approach this is to not sell solar systems but to lease them.

The single biggest barrier to solar power is the high upfront cost.  Sungevity claims that its Solar Lease avoids that impediment.  With no money down, they say they will design and install a  customized systemand then lease the panels to the homeowner for a low monthly rate. 

Sungevity’s pitch is that the combined cost of the lease payment and a lower electricity bill should be less than the pre-solar electricity bill. Sungevity takes responsibility for the system performance and so both installation and maintenance are someone else’s problems – which sounds good to me.

The company makes money off Federal and State incentives (some of which expire this year) and I suspect the lease program may include some percentage on electricity sold back to the utilities.  Unfortunately, because Michigan does not have  incentives as strong as those offered elsewhere (and typically less sun than say Arizona), Sungevity does not currently plan to offer this program here.  In fact, DTE just announced that its Solar Currents credit program was “full” as they had hit their goal of five megawatts of solar generation created.

Leave a Comment to “New solar deal? Not in Michigan”

  1. Don Lessard 24. Jun, 2013 at 7:36 pm #

    Thanks for the article Arthur. I truly believe the statement that “the single biggest barrier to solar power is the high upfront cost.” This is what prevented us from going solar for many years. In 2012, we launched miPHOTON, LLC., an integrated solar installation and financing company to reduce the upfront costs of solar. Our financing combines the affordability of low monthly payments, like a solar lease, with the benefits of direct ownership. It’s a slightly different business model than the solar lease but accomplishes the same goal of expanding the adoption of solar by reducing upfront costs.

    Don Lessard

Leave a Reply