Q: How much will it cost to complete my solar project?
A: It depends on your unique needs. If you use a lot of power, you’ll need a lot of solar panels, but the opposite is also true.
Q: Will my current solar system be enough for my future needs?
A: If you’re going to be using a lot more power in the future—for example, if you buy an electric car or add a swimming pool—your current system might not be able to meet your needs. However, we’re very good at offsetting our clients’ historical usage, so we can design a system that will handle the power you expect to use.
Q: Why are some loan program payments lower than others?
A: Some payments account for the 30 percent tax credit that consumers get for going solar, but companies are allowed to show the amount of a loan payment after the tax credit, so the final amount can look drastically different from the amount another company shows. Also, those loans can carry fees up to 15 or 20 percent, which means if you have a $10,000 loan, you’ll also need to pay $2,000 in fees. Our rates are much lower than the industry average, and we try to get our clients approved through home equity loans so the interest is deductible and there aren’t any fees. Since January 1, 2019, every solar contract has to show the amount of the financing, and that’s going to be a really big help for consumers.
Q: What are community choice aggregations like Marin Clean Energy and East Bay Clean Energy? How will they affect my solar installation?
A: These are companies that have partnered with or been approved by a city or county to offer Green energy alternatives to the utility companies. They provide electricity that comes from environmentally-friendly sources. When someone with a solar energy system overproduces energy, they can get a much higher rate for that overproduction because they’re essentially selling power back to Marin Clean Energy or East Bay Clean Energy.
Q: Should I lease my solar system?
A: We don’t recommend leasing a solar system. There aren’t a lot of advantages other than having a fixed payment. Solar comes with a 30 percent tax credit that decreases over time, but when you have a solar lease or power purchase agreement, you give that money to the finance company. We recommend owning your system and applying your tax credits to the loan principal.
Q: Should landlords and rental property owners consider installing solar?
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A: Absolutely. Once the system is paid off, it’s free money for a commercial property owner—like increasing rent without any pushback. It also creates more loyal tenants because they know they’d pay more for electricity in another home or building. Also, commercial property owners get a 30 percent tax credit and an accelerated depreciation expense, so about 52 percent of the project cost comes back in the form of incentives.