Alan Lee is founder and CEO of the solar panel maker and installer ecoSolargy.
Many industries in the U.S. start with government incentives. California’s solar industry, for one, has grown significantly due to state incentives.
But there have also been strong incentives in the past that have gone, and industries grew even larger. The California Solar Initiative, which launched in 2007 and once offered rebates of $3 per watt, is now down to 20 cents per watt. Photovoltaic technology has gotten to a point where it is viable without incentives.
The truth is that electricity prices will continue to rise. Variable fuel costs and the potential of adding more costs to conventional energy, like carbon taxes or pollution control measures, will make solar more attractive for homeowners who will want the ability to have control over their electricity costs and be sustainable while doing so.
The solar industry has been innovative in opening the market to more homeowners through solar leasing programs, which help to amortize the cost over many years.
Mike Davidson is director of marketing for Colorado-based Century Communities.
Incentives have disappeared and solar is selling in a couple of key areas in and around Denver, where I think there is proof that it works.
Stapleton is a great example of a national top-10 master plan where incentives have gone away and solar is selling well. At Candelas in Arvada, Colo., Century Communities’ newest single-family offering includes a prepaid solar lease program with a distinct 20-year maintenance plan. Once our sales team brings it up, buyers get excited, but the majority of them are still looking to be educated on solar in general and what kind of savings can be realized.
However, when it comes to selling upgrades to larger systems, people seem to prefer to spend on granite countertops, upgraded wood floors, and extravagant tile. With energy rates expected to climb over the next two decades, I don’t understand why you wouldn’t buy a huge solar system and include it in your mortgage.
Walter Cuculic is national sales manager-builder programs for the panel supplier SolarCity.
Home buyers and builders are choosing solar even in states where there are no local incentives or where the incentives are disappearing. In the last 12 months, SolarCity has installed systems on more than 200 new homes in Florida and Nevada, where there’s lots of sunshine and no solar incentives available.
On Earth Day, we celebrated the sale of our 1,000th “Zero Electric Bill” house through our partnership in Shea Homes’ SheaXero program.
In states where homeowners don’t have access to solar service providers, builders have a unique advantage when they can sell houses with solar, which buyers can then roll into their mortgages. Prepaid leases and cash purchases allow buyers to lock-in electricity rates for up to 20 years.
Home buyers are increasingly opting to use clean, renewable energy to power their houses. We don’t see this trend reversing, as solar increases a home’s value and saves money from the first day buyers move in.