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Just ordered Solar City for home and car power

I just ordered solar city to power my whole house. With the deal they offered " zero upfront, .095 cent per kwh, I can't figure out why everyone does not do it. Price is fixed for 20 years, and my buddy who is a big wig at Xcel energy said there are multiple price increases coming from Xcel . You need to take a hard look at it. Makes a ton of financial sense. Plus it's cool to say your car runs on the sun!!!

I agree that it is a great time to do Solar. Just next week initial construction is starting on our 8 kW array to power our car and a large chunk of our home usage. We estimate payback in 6 years and an internal rate of return on money invested nearly 20% over 25 years! Can't beat that. We went with another company, not SolarCity because we wanted to own the system rather than lease, but the SolarCity proposal we got was good.

@cschock where and who? The offers I got from SolarCity looked expensive ($24500 for a 3.8 kW system). This was near San Jose.

I went with Real Goods Solar, took advantage of a special offer from BMW, but the system will be powering a Red Model S in a few months. There is no downside in going solar. The prices have dropped so much that a homeowner can save 50-75% on their electric bill.

I am in Sonoma County, CA. I am using a smaller local company called Synergy Solar. The all-up cost of the system was a shade under $35000 (just over $22000 after rebates and tax credits.)

Keep in mind that a big part of a solar install will be stupid things and bureaucracy. Larger systems do not scale linearly in price, since there is a large fixed cost in permitting, paperwork, managing rebates, etc. If it makes sense for you to get a larger system it may be more cost effective. I found SolarCity wanted to size our system pretty small compared to the two local companies, which significantly inflated their cost per kWh. Once I had them resize the system, they were a lot more competitive on price.

Hope that helps!

It's funny to read this while . . . Solar City is outside on day 1 of our solar panel installation! ;-) We went with Solar City's PPA here in Maryland and did the full prepay to get a lower rate, they own/maintain the system, etc. Some people like that route, some don't--after research and discussion, we decided it was the way to go for us. I'm excited to have solar.

@Tesla303 - Sounds like you went with a SolarPPA versus SolarLease. Does your agreement address over production? In other words, if/when your system produces more electricity than their guaranteed minimum, do you get to keep the excess for free?

Overproduction is handled differently by different utility providers. Some, like Los Angeles DWP, pay very generously for excess power and others possibly none at all. Various regulators are pushing for utilities to change their rates to be more encouraging to solar.

I oversized my system (slightly) with the hope that I can get better paid for my LA SCE excess power generation.

I had my solar system installed by Real Goods about 5 years ago using an Xcel rebate program. The first thing I had them do was the energy audit. After the solar install I upgraded the gas furnace, AC and insulation. Went without paying an electric bill for 5 years before the MS arrived. Now I pay about $20.00 a month.

@stevenmaifert - Yes I get to keep the overage and sell it to Xcel Energy. I pay a flat rate to Solar City of $99.00 month.

is there a solar city alternative for us canadian ? as far as i know solar city doesnt deal with us correct ?

I chose to skip SolarCity for the following leasing reasons.

1. They own your roof for 20 years.
2. If you plan on moving in the next 5 they have penalties.
3. if you sell your house and your buyer does not qualify for their 700 points credit score you cannot make a deal as you have another party with their nose in your house.
4. Their escalation annually might catch up to the electric rates quickly.

NOPetrol,

That may be true of the lease. I'm not sure it's the same for the PPA (#4 sure isn't, my costs
are fixed).

I bought my system from Solar City in 2009. At the time it was the aftermath of the financial crisis and they were offering very good deals for customers who could buy the system rather than lease it. I believe that some of their sources of lease funds dried up after the crash. I got very substantial tax credits and a pretty good discount from the sales price. In the three years I have averaged over 10,000 kwH generated per year. I believe that since 2009 panels have also gotten cheaper and more efficient. When they first did the calculation, they were aiming at a sweet spot in the rate schedule, to have enough production to consistently get into the second rate tier, saving the big bucks in the rate schedule. I decided to get more capacity since I (at that time dreaming a bit) thought that maybe the excess would one day power an electric car. Little did I know ...

BTW, I am in the SF Bay area - central Contra Costa County - the sunnier side.

NOPetrol

They dont own my roof.
There are no penalties if I move, "ever"
Credit score required for assignment is 600. If a person doesnt have that there not qualifying for my million dollar home.
I have no escalation. Fixed at .091 kwh for 20 years. period
ZERO down.
I keep all the extra power and sell it to xcel energy for a profit.

I just gained $30,000 in equity in my home....Cut bill by 30% and make money on overage!

@NOPetrol: We have no escalation, by which I think you mean annual increase. They don't "own" my roof (WTF?!) and with panels on, there should be less wear on the roof than without, anyway. Nothing in the contract says they care about the buyer if I choose to transfer the PPA to them. I can move the system to the new house, though I'm skeptical it'd be worth the cost. I don't see anything about 5 years in there.

Maybe some of this is different from what you say because (a) I have a PPA and (b) I did the full repay. But that just goes to show that folks reading this thread must keep in mind that every situation is different, since Solar City offers several options, and the different ways of doing it have options as well (no, partial, or full prepay; we did the latter).

@Tesla303

Yes by signing the agreement you are a renter on the portion of your roof. If you read their contract you cannot make alterations to their part of the roof or you will void your warranty and be in default, they have reasonable access to your roof as needed. If you move and want the system to go with you , you have to foot the whole move and reinstallation bill. There is an increase price per KWH if you look in your schedule A. Many buyers may not qualify for the credit score for some reason or other including all cash new immigrants.

I'm not saying its the worst deal in the world but the lease is not a home run? Specially with new technologies coming online and for people that don't plan on staying in the house for longer than 5 years.

Hello everyone,

My name is Chris Samila and I am the SolarCity account manager for Tesla Motors. It is great to see an active discussion around solar energy, especially in regards to powering your new Model S on sunshine.

Here is some additional clarification around the points that NoPetrol brought up during the discussion.

1.) "They own your roof for 20 years."

You can choose to purchase the solar system if you prefer that option, but in most cases you purchase the solar power (or lease the system) and SolarCity retains ownership of the solar system. SolarCity does not own the roof in either case.

2.) "If you plan on moving in the next 5 they have penalties"

If you move at any time you can transfer the SolarLease / PPA agreement—there is no penalty to do so.

3.) "If you sell your house and your buyer does not qualify for their 700 points credit score you cannot make a deal as you have another party with their nose in your house."

The credit requirement for a SolarLease or power purchase agreement is 680— the majority of Americans that qualify to obtain a mortgage have a FICO score at this level or above. If the new buyers of your home do not qualify, the seller can prepay the remaining monthly payments and incorporate the cost into the price of the home. Or, the original homeowners can choose to pay to relocate their solar system to their new home within the same utility jurisdiction.

4.) "Their escalation annually might catch up to the electric rates quickly"

SolarCity customers have the option to choose a flat solar payment, or a payment that starts lower and escalates annually. In any case, you know exactly what you’ll be paying for solar electricity, while utility rates can go up at any time. SolarCity’s Lease and PPA contracts are available for anyone to review online at http://www.solarcity.com/media-center/top-5-solar-contract-tips.aspx.

If you have additional questions or needs around solar power or electric vehicle charging you can always reach our team directly at TeslaCharging@solarcity.com.

Cordiali saluti,

Chris Samila
SolarCity

Thanks for the clarification Chris! We're at the crossing point now in the United States where every homeowner should get a couple of quotes for a solar install. The savings can be substantial. Solar is kinda like DirecTV - at first a lot of people were hesitant to get TV by satellite - but now it's very widespread and beats cable hands-down in most cities.

Watch before signing 20 year lease. Not sure if this all applies to SolarCity but it shows leasing option vs purchasing is an important decision.
http://vimeo.com/58341270#

NOpetrol, that's a not very thinly veiled ad.

I am on my last day to cancel my Solar City contract and am thinking seriously about doing so. The quote I got from Solar city was $15,500. The RealSolar proposal was $11,000 for what I believe is an equivalent product, but I may be wrong. I'm going to call S/C today and discuss my options. I've looked at Real Solar reviews and they are very positive. I initially trusted Solar City because they are aligned with Tesla and Space X. I feel that if the United States can trust Elon Musk to outfit the spacestation, I can trust him to outfit my roof. There may be a reason for the difference in price. I'm curious. The guy at Real Solar talked about things like micro-inverters as a difference. It's Greek to me and I simply signed on with Solar City because of Tesla. I think a bit more research should have been done by me to make sure I wasn't simply buying the name.

I'm comfortable that Solar City will do a good job, the only question I have is am I paying more than market rate?

@ Electron, can you dispute it with facts?
My suggestion is buy the PV outright. Get the tax benefit and be done with more debt and lease payments and their accompanying obligations. Most people here can buy a 100K car can spend $20K on their roof if they are planning to stay in their house for a while.

I installed a 6kw system ltwo years ag0. Fed tax credit 30% of install NYS gives 15k up front plus an additional 5k tax credit. Cost to me 10k installed, overall a 43K improvement to the house. So far 18 MwH generated.

Ron

Microinverters have the advantage of being associated with each panel. That way if a single panel fails you only lose output from a single panel. If you have a single inverter for the system and one panel fails, you are down until its fixed.

Ron

NOpetrol, I don't have to dispute it. I'm not the one selling something. I question anyone trying to seperate me from my money under the guise of educating or helping me.

@Elctron, or saving you a ton of cash by switching to....

Any big decision--buying a car, buying a house, buying a solar system, leasing a solar system--should have some thought, research, and number crunching. Ours told us that the Solar City route made sense for us. Enough with the trolling, vague warnings, etc. For us, Solar City was the way to go--if they didn't exist, we wouldn't be doing solar, period. I'm happy with how it works and am looking forward to the final turn-on. :-)

Same here Kendall. Run the numbers, compare the services provided and make a good choice for your circumstances.

@KendallPB I totally agree. While we did not go with SolarCity, we would have if we a PPA or lease turned out better for our circumstances. The decision was a close one but for us buy made more economic sense given very high electric rates in Northern CA.


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