Solar Crosses Political, Ideological Lines

Re-post of excerpted article in SolarReviews by Chris Meehan

Normally when people think about renewable energy and who supports it, most think it’s primarily championed by liberals and Democrats. But a growing number of conservatives and Republicans—even Tea Party members—are supporting solar. In fact, two of the nation’s largest solar states have Republican Governors.

Take for instance, Georgia, where the conservative-led Public Services Commission (PSC) recently decided the state’s largest utility, Georgia Power, needs to add in 525 megawatts of solar by 2016—and 100 megawatts of that will come through distributed solar. The plan was introduced by Republican Commissioner Lauren “Bubba” McDonald, Jr., but also supported by other Republican Commissioners like Chuck Eaton.

Last year Eaton made wrote an op-ed which appeared on the That’s Just Peachy Roundtable about the conservative case for solar. “Since solar is almost 100 percent capital costs, with relatively small ongoing costs and no fuel requirement, the dramatic drop in solar panel costs will save Georgians millions of dollars over states that implemented solar earlier…” he said.

Ahead of the PSC’s decision, even the Tea Party came to solar’s side—after the Koch brother supported Americans for Prosperity contended that solar would raise rates by 40 percent there. “Apparently, they aren’t looking at the right numbers,” said Debbie Dooley, original co-founder of Tea Party movement. “There are lots of folks who are working in overdrive to support the monopoly’s efforts to quash solar.” She said that some special interests wanted to stop solar from free-market competition.

Solar also has the support of Barry Goldwater Jr. in Arizona, who is Chairman of TUSK (Tell Utilities Solar won’t be Killed), a group that is fighting efforts by the state’s largest utility Arizona Public Service (APS) to kill its rooftop solar net-metering program.

In a statement on TUSK’s site Goldwater said, “As a son of Arizona, I know we have no greater resource than our sun. Republicans want the freedom to make the best choice and the competition to drive down rates.” He added, “That choice may mean they save money, and with solar that is the case. Solar companies have a track record of aggressively reducing costs in Arizona. We can’t let solar energy—and all its advantages and benefits it provides us—be pushed aside by monopolies wanting to limit energy choice. That’s not the conservative way and it’s not the American way.”

Arizona is one of three states with more than 1 gigawatt of solar installed, and its Governor, Janet Brewer (R), is hardly a liberal bastion. Yet during her inauguration speech in 2011 she pointed out the importance of solar. “We’ve been named the country’s solar king, offering the highest solar power potential in the nation, while attracting new companies—and at the same time rededicating ourselves to business retention,” she said. Arizona, “Will be a state with a solar industry that is the envy of the world, one which continues to lead with innovation and cost-effective technologies.” Since taking office most of that solar has been installed, with 273 megawatts coming online in 2011 and 710 megawatts coming online in 2012.

Solar also is taking off in New Jersey, one of the other states with more than 1 gigawatt of solar installed. There Republican Gov. Chris Christie—a potential Presidential candidate for 2016—has repeatedly signed bills to expand solar in the state. When he signed a bill last year that moved forward the state’s renewables requirements, primarily the state’s solar by increasing the number of solar renewable energy credits (SRECs) that the state’s power providers must purchase, he renewed his support for renewables.

“Since my time running for office, I made it clear that my Administration would be unrivaled in our aggressive support for the development of renewable sources of energy in New Jersey,” Christie said in statement. “Renewable energy not only helps meet our goals of increasing sustainability and protecting the environment, but can be an engine for economic growth and the creation of good-paying jobs for the people of our state,” he said.

These are just a few of the conservative voices that are increasingly open about supporting solar, but none of them are on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., talking with fellow conservatives in the House and Senate about the need for more solar power and how to enact policies that will lead to more solar throughout the U.S. at lower costs.

Customer-eye View of a Solar Installation

We are starting to build a significant solar library installation at the Athens County Public Libraries, Athens branch. Jenaye, the staff Communications Coordinator for ACPL, will be blogging about the installation as it progresses. You can watch the progress on Jenaye’s blog here, and get a taste of the excitement our customers feel as their clean solar energy systems are being built!

Smart Solar Finance—Owning Solar versus Leasing Solar

Why Let Someone Else Profit From Your Solar Investment?

Our society is seeing a great surge in people taking steps to be more green in their lives and work. Installing solar panels is one of the most visible and tangible green actions households can take, and with that in mind, many people are taking a fresh look at solar electric for their homes and businesses. A growing, maturing solar industry means lower manufacturing costs and a lower cost of solar energy. In recent years, the falling price of silicon has also contributed to lower prices of solar panels and making solar energy more affordable for everyone. Experienced solar energy companies like Third Sun Solar are now offering easy finance options for home solar panel systems.

Solar Home Ownership Made Easier

In Los Angeles, a booming solar city where thousands of homeowners have acquired residential solar through leasing, many people are now taking a second look at their solar panel lease—with regrets. Selling a house with a solar lease adds complications, and in some cases, they are now realizing they could have done better financially—much better—by buying their system outright.

With solar loan programs becoming more available and popular, people can now make an investment in installed solar panel kits for their home with little or no money down. If your credit score is good, you can get a good rate and easy terms. Our smart financing options allow us to offer easier purchasing options with better long-term returns than leasing.

The benefits of buying residential solar power, in many cases, far outweigh the benefits of leasing. Under our financing program, all of these advantages apply:

  • Little or no down payment
  • Customer may be eligible for a federal tax credit
  • Customer may gain asset value on home
  • Payments may decrease over time
  • There are no pre-payment penalties

An Investment That Pays You Over Time

Financing your investment in solar can put purchasing within reach and pay nice dividends—in fact, an investment in solar can outpace many other available investments these days. Using either our smart financing, a traditional refinanced mortgage, or using a home equity line of credit (HELOC) can pay for the system and reap solid downstream savings.

Purchasing a solar power system is a great long-term investment that can increase the value of solar homes more and more as utility rates rise over time. The immediate savings on your electric bill can multiply as rates rise, as they are predicted to do. No one knows how fast or how far utility rates will rise; in states like Ohio, where electric rates are low because utilities burn coal in aging power plants, chances are that rates will rise sharply as utilities are forced to replace those aging plants with newer, cleaner ones. Long-term energy savings with clean solar on your rooftop may be more and more attractive to home buyers as rates rise over time.

Downsides of Solar Leasing

Many people are drawn to solar leasing for the same reasons they are drawn to leasing cars—these leases require little money down on signing, and they can “drive more car for less money.” But that sidesteps the fact that they are creating no ownership equity. Dealers love leasing cars, as they make more money that way. With solar energy systems having a productive 30+ year lifecycle, a purchase decision can pay you the dividends, rather than letting someone else make that money off your rooftop.

Put the Money in Your Own Pocket

The advantages of solar leasing include low or no money down and a reduced electric bill that is consistent month to month. But consider these solar energy facts: if you lease, you do not own your solar panels, someone else does; you cannot take the 30% Federal Tax Credit, as you do not own the system; and the reason lease companies offer leases is that they represent earning opportunities for them. Solar ownership puts that earning opportunity in your pocket.

In states like California, where solar has been growing by leaps and bounds, leasing offers consumers a way to spread the up-front cost of solar over a long period of time, while also saving on their monthly electric bill. But lease payments are passed on to the home buyer in the event of a sale, and that is another drawback for a solar lease—selling the home may be more difficult because purchasers must have high enough credit scores to meet the leasing company requirements.

Choose Smart Solar Financing

Purchasing your solar system from one of the better solar panel companies can make the most financial sense in the long run. Purchasing is easier now thanks to lower costs, the 30% Federal Tax Credit and good financing options. Federal tax incentives are set to expire within the next 3 years, so the best time to go solar is now! Call us for details—877-OWN-SOLAR (877-696-7652).