Be Wary of San Diego Solar Companies That Push PPAs and Leases
In San Diego, there are a number of different ways to finance a new solar installation:

  • As solar panel prices continue to fall, an increasing number of homeowners and businesses discover they can pay for their installations entirely out of pocket.
  • Those without ready cash sometimes use low interest loans to finance their systems.  Monthly loan payments are usually less than what they pay to the utility for grid electricity.
  • Many homeowners and businesses throughout San Diego use solar leases or power purchase agreements (PPAs).  Under these arrangements, a 3rd party installs and owns the system – the end user merely pays for the clean electricity consumed.

Depending on your energy needs and access to funds, there are compelling reasons to choose any one of the above financing approaches.  In fact, at Sunline Energy, we’ve helped customers pay for their installations using all of these methods.

However, a growing number of San Diego solar companies are aggressively pushing leases and PPAs – often to the detriment of the customers they’re supposed to be helping.

We’ve covered this issue before here and here – but it’s worth revisiting – and clarifying.

At Sunline Energy, we’re not necessarily against solar leases.  As mentioned, we’ve even advised a number of our own clients to finance their installations using PPAs.

But we only make this recommendation after exploring all financing options with the customer.  We run the numbers and compare important metrics like:

  • incentives, rebates, and tax credits (all of which go to the system owner – and not the lessee)
  • payback periods, electricity bill savings, and ROIs
  • upfront, annual, and lifetime costs – for installation and maintenance

Our goal is to help our customers accumulate as many environmental and financial benefits as possible, while simultaneously avoiding as many costs as possible.

When you actually run the numbers, solar installation ownership (via cash or loans) is nearly always preferable to leasing.

This is not the case 100% of the time, but the overwhelming majority of Sunline Energy customers decide to finance their solar installations with savings or loans after taking a careful look at the lifetime ROI of their investment.

Sadly, many San Diego solar companies don’t run these analyses – or rather – they don’t share the true results with their customers.  Although this lack of transparency benefits the installer, it prevents clients from making informed decisions about their solar options.

If you’re thinking about installing solar panels on your property, we strongly recommend that you ask your contractor to walk you through a step-by-step comparison of the different financing options available.

Be wary of any San Diego solar companies that try to pigeonhole you into solar leases – without offering a careful review of the alternatives.

Just so we’re clear – solar leases are not inherently bad.  And it could very well be that a PPA makes the most financial sense for you.  After all, the installation will be free (or nearly free), and you’ll never have to worry about repairs or maintenance (which are relatively minor concerns).

But you also forgo all of the financial benefits of ownership – including the ability to:

  • have $0 monthly electricity bills for the next 25 to 40 years
  • generate positive cash flow or earn utility credits for excess production

So before you sign on with any San Diego solar companies, make sure you have all the facts.

Better yet, request solar quotes from 2 or 3 competitors.  That way, you have a much better chance of finding the best deal possible.

As always, we’d love to have your business.  So when you begin your search, please keep Sunline Energy in mind.  All solar quotes and on-site surveys are 100% free of charge.

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