Solar energy advocates want to make leasing solar panels easierSolar energy advocates are hoping to make it easier for homeowners and businesses to lease solar panels, rather than buy them.
By: By Chuck Quirmbach, Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
Solar energy advocates are hoping to make it easier for homeowners and businesses to lease solar panels, rather than buy them.
The solar energy industry continues to grow rapidly, but remains a relatively small part of the energy scene in the United States. Advocates say more homeowners, businesses, and governments would be willing to go solar, if the upfront costs of buying the solar panels weren't so high.
Author, advocate and solar business executive Danny Kennedy says for some, leasing the panels from a third party makes sense.
“I think if you do the maths and pencil it out, it might be a little bit more over the life of the system to lease it,” Kennedy said. “But if you don’t have the $20,000 up front it’s not an option, whereas it might be a small difference to lease. And you have that peace of mind when you lease, that someone else is going to fix it if it’s broken.”
Kennedy acknowledges homeowners who lease solar wouldn't directly get the government tax credits that buyers receive. But he says those property owners still get the lower electricity bills and energy savings. He says a roadblock to more solar leasing in Wisconsin is that the state appears to want to regulate solar leasing companies as a public utility.
City of Milwaukee solar program manager Amy Heart says it would help the economy if that concern about red tape was eliminated.
“We have over 300 solar-related companies in Wisconsin throughout the supply chain,” Heart said. “That’s something that we feel very strongly about in Milwaukee – of supporting all of those.
Heart says a coalition is pushing for a bill to clarify the third-party energy policy.