Is solar leasing good for the consumer?

Solar leasing controversyEditor's note: This is the final post in a three-part series. Part 1 / Part 2

While prices might not be climbing as much right now as they have in the past, Wise said, it’s inevitable that they will go up as they have historically.

“It’s like gas,” she said. “If I’d told you we would install a gas pump in your backyard and we would sell you gas at a set price 10 years ago, you’d be saving now.”

Most utilities produce electricity with finite natural resources like coal or natural gas.

“Resources that are exhaustible tend to go up in price as they become harder to find,” she said. “Sunshine is free.”

Mayer said he understands the allure of the solar leasing model, he just wants companies to upfront about what’s happening now in their advertising and make sure customers know upfront that it’s possible they could be paying more for their power with solar than they would with the utility.

Monique Hanis, spokeswoman for the Solar Energy Industries Association said she hopes all solar companies are adhering to the organization’s code of ethics, which includes discussing risks and truth in advertising.

She advises that anyone considering solar consult with at least three operators and get a feel for different options.

But in the end, she said third party solar installers offer the same option to homeowners that car buyers have when they go to the lot and learn about leasing options. They know they won’t end up owning the car and that ownership might be a better long-term investment.

“But leasing options helps consumers with the upfront cost,” Hanis said.

Part 1 / Part 2

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