Residential PV System Lease Now available at Lowe’s

Lowe’s Companies, Inc., the second largest do-it-yourself retailer (1,750 stores), is now offering a Sungevity solar system lease option at their stores in select

Solar PV Reaching the Masses

California locations. The company also announced that it had purchased a 20% ownership stake in Sungevity, Inc. with terms not disclosed. Lowe’s joins Home Depot in the segment that already works closely with residential solar lease companies Solar City, Inc. and SunRun, LLC. While both home improvement companies offer solar programs with a concentration on California, they also have plans for, or are operating in, Colorado, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and Massachusetts.

No Upfront Cost - Source: SolarCity

The residential solar lease has quickly gained traction (in select states with adequate government support) as it removes the upfront cost of the PV system installation, and even though there is a monthly lease payment, the overall benefit is a lowering of the monthly residential utility bill of up to 25%. The lease company monitors the system and provides maintenance.

On the Sungevity website, the company advertises “Pay $0 down,” “Save 15% on your electricity bill from day one,” and “we’ll guarantee in writing how much energy your system will produce each year and, if we fall short, we’ll pay you for the difference.” It is fairly compelling marketing.

For the Lowe’s relationship, Sungevity will provide in-store quotation kiosks in 30 California stores. The Sungevity kiosk runs their proprietary iQuote web based application, which provides users a quote for their home location within 24 hours.  After the customer inputs location and estimated energy use, iQuote accesses satellite imaging of the roof and surrounding vegetation and then ties that information in with historical solar radiation, government incentives and other variables including the cost of utility-provided power. The final quote provides a customized projection of how much money will be saved on the utility bill along with an artistic rendering of the how the installation will look. Local, certified installers who work with Sungevity, install the system.

The best investment return for a residential solar system is for the homeowner to own and operate it themselves, net meter the excess energy to the utility and secure the government solar energy incentives. But with the average residential system costing $16,000, the solar lease is a great option to having the benefits of solar without the upfront cost. As the Sungevity CEO Danny Kennedy said, ““Our goal is to take this solar offering to the masses across the country.” The big box home improvement retailers should be a great conduit for solar leasing companies to reach those masses.

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