SunRun offers PV to homeowners at little cost

SunRun is now offering homeowners photovoltaic systems in Hawaii with up-front costs as low as $250. It’s the seventh state that SunRun is offering such a deal in. Like Sun Edison, SunRun offers financing for businesses and entities that install solar power on their buildings through power-purchase agreements (PPAs). Under such agreements the financing company pays for the PV system and the home or building owner agrees to repay the company overtime offering the owner energy pricing stability. However, unlike Sun Edison, SunRun offers such programs for homeowners instead of business owners.

Rob Cahill, manager of business development for the company, explained that SunRun is “taking away the objection of high up-front costs” for installing a PV system on a home. He said that the PPAs or leases homeowners sign with SunRun typically last for 20 years.

“SunRun purchases and owns the equipment, the homeowner pays a fixed, monthly rate. Basically, we’re switching out a portion of the electricity” the homeowner would buy from the grid with a PV system, he explained. After the PPA term is completed, the homeowner owns the array.

Under the PPA, SunRun gets all tax credits and rebates related to installing the system, “That’s how we can make this affordable,” explained Susan Wise, SunRun spokesperson.

“We call it a solar power service,” she said. “It’s like a lease. SunRun handles maintenance and insurance.” of the installed solar system.

However, the typically roof-mounted systems are also grid-tied and net-metered, and the customer is credited—in some states paid—for any excess generation related to the system, Cahill explained.

When SunRun enters into a new state, it contracts with some of the largest solar developers or installers in the region Cahill said. He added that the installers choose which panels they will use, although homeowners can request certain panels.

“Local installers know what the best technologies and panels for the region are. They offer added expertise,” Wise said.

Different PV panels are better in different situations, for instance, some thin-film PV cells are better at absorbing more diffuse light than crystalline cells, despite being less efficient overall. So in some states, they may be a better choice.

SunRun currently offers services in Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. If they’re not in your state already, expect them soon. Cahill explained that the venture-funded company was started with support from PG&E, a California utility, and US Bank. The company’s taken off since then.

“We grew 500 percent in 2009,” Cahill said. “And we had continuous financing for that.”

“Our core focus right now is growth,” added Wise, “bringing solar to as many homeowners as possible.”