By Raina Russo, co-founder and president of EcoOutfitters.net
Update 8/28/12: According to a Newsday report, Leviton has changed directions in regard to offering solar leasing programs, citing a reconsideration of the marketplace. As information emerges, we will keep you posted. Read more here.
Original post follows:
On my website, EcoOutfitters.net, we are proponents of solar leasing because it makes a solar PV installation accessible to families who might not otherwise be able to afford the upfront cost of a solar installation and don't want to go in to debt to purchase solar panels.
The way a solar lease works is it provides a home with solar panels, which are still owned by either the installer or a finance company working with the installer. The homeowner makes a monthly payment, which is less than what their electric bill would be without solar panels, but probably more than it would be if they were using a solar system that they purchased outright. (Read more about solar leasing options now.)
As cost-effective and eco-friendly as solar leasing is, however, you can't get a solar lease on Long Island. As of now, LIPA (the Long Island Power Authority), prohibits third-party leasing companies from receiving the rebates residents get for installing solar systems in their homes, so it's not a cost-effective choice.
That may change, soon, however. Leviton Manufacturing of Melville, Long Island, NY, an electrical component company, is entering the residential solar energy business with a leasing program through SunRun. The no-money-down leasing option is available through a partnership between SunRun and Leviton in San Diego, California and those within the five boroughs of New York City as well as New York’s Westchester, Orange, and Rockland Counties. In a Newsday article, Leviton announced that it has plans to enter the Long Island market within a year before going national. Can Leviton, a highly influential New York firm, change LIPA's mind?
With 1.1 million LIPA customers, the market could accommodate hundreds of thousands of leased solar PV arrays. The drawback? Many solar installations could quickly eat up LIPA's budget for solar incentives.
The Specifics of a Leviton Lease
Leviton's solar division provides a no-money-down, 20-year solar lease, with the array warranted for the full 20 years. Leviton Solar handles all the paperwork for permits, rebates, and incentives. SunRun manages and maintains the systems, while homeowners make their monthly utility payments to SunRun.
An Eco-friendly Firm
Solar leasing and solar panel installation is indicative of recent steps Leviton has taken to be even more eco-conscious. The company also recently acquired Home Automation, Inc., a privately held, New Orleans-based manufacturer of home automation controls. A stand-alone business unit, HAI by Leviton, will maintain operations in New Orleans, while Leviton will train its worldwide builder and contractor network to install HAI systems, expanding the company's product offerings in terms of home automation for lights, programmable thermostats, audio devices, security and surveillance systems and home theater systems.
These developments show that, like many companies today, Leviton is taking steps to be more eco-friendly and to make it easier for consumers to be eco-conscious as well. Like many companies and individuals, Leviton is recognizing that solar is one path to a brighter, more environmentally sound future.
EcoOutfitters congratulates fellow Long Islanders Leviton for their initiatives and contributions to the solar community.
Raina Brett Russo, of Atlantic Beach, NY, is the co-founder of EcoOutfitters.net, a performance-based marketing company empowering consumers with valuable information and connecting home and business owners with renewable energy providers through its resource-rich Web portal.