The biggest problem with solar panels is their upfront cost. While photovoltaics have dropped dramatically in price in recent years, it can still take 50 years or more to recoup the inital investment from a solar installation.
That’s why Solar Service Agreements are such a great idea. SSAs are a business model where the array is installed, owned and operated by third-party “solar developers” – SunEdison and Renewable Ventures are two of the largest. Once the panels are good to go, the company sells the electricity generated to the building’s occupants, usually at rates equal to or cheaper than the grid.
SSAs have been taking off in the corporate arena for a couple years, with companies such as Staples and GM signing on. Now, the solar service model is avaliable for homes, as well: Worldchanging reports that CitizenRe’s REnU program, available in the 41 states with net metering, will allow homeowners to get their power from the sun without spending the thousands of dollars necessary to set up a PV system.
Residential SSAs like the REnU program have the potential to make renewables a no-brainer – as energy prices continue to rise and solar panels get ever more efficient, getting an array on your rooftop is now going to result in instant savings.