Full article at:In the past, small and medium-sized businesses that wanted to install solar panels were, for the most part, forced to buy them — meaning that companies that didn’t have enough money upfront to pay for the panels weren’t able to go solar. Now, that’s changing.
SolarCity announced Tuesday that it was starting to offer a leasing plan for small and medium-sized businesses. That’s a corner of the solar market that, so far, has been neglected, SolarCity Chief Executive Officer Lyndon Rive told ThinkProgress. And it’s a big corner — according to SolarCity, 99 percent of all businesses in the U.S. are small or medium-sized, a designation typically reserved for companies with fewer than 500 employees.
Until now, it’s been too expensive and too difficult for companies like SolarCity to find ways to finance solar arrays for smaller businesses. Under SolarCity’s new program, the company plans to use its own solar installers — instead of subcontractors — to put in the system, which SolarCity estimates will reduce the cost of installation by around 30 percent. The company has come up with a lightweight solar panel mounting design that allows businesses to fit 20 to 50 percent more solar panels on their roofs and takes takes just a few days to install, rather than two to three weeks.
SolarCity is also taking advantage of the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program, which helps finance private renewable energy installations. With the help of PACE, SolarCity pays the upfront cost for the solar system and small businesses pay off the cost over time on their property tax bills. Still, though the system does open up the market for small businesses that can’t afford the upfront costs of solar, it’s still likely a better deal for a business that can afford it to pay for its own system and earn tax credits itself, as ThinkProgress pointed out earlier this year.
SolarCity is planning to start offering the program to businesses in California, then expand across the country next year. According to the company, the new program will allow small and medium-sized businesses that go solar to pay 5 to 25 percent less than they typically do for electric bills. Rive said the company has had a “tremendous amount of interest” from small and medium-sized businesses over the last few years, so he expects the new program to be successful.