The Definitive Solar Leasing Guide

The solar industry is bringing cheap and clean energy to consumers in a whole new way – through solar leasing. Leasing a solar system has become an extremely popular way for homeowners to get solar for their home at very attractive rates. Now is a great time to learn about solar leasing and why it may make sense for you.

Option # 1: No Money Down Monthly Solar Lease

Solar Panel Lease CompanyThe benefits of a monthly solar leasing option are multifold. For starters, by leasing a solar system homeowners can avoid the upfront costs of purchasing a solar system since most leasing arrangements require little to no money down from the lessee. A monthly solar lease can deliver savings on your electricity from day one. Another perk is that with a solar lease you are no longer subject to roller coaster utility bills. Instead, solar leases establish a fixed, monthly payment for lessees that won’t soar even when the solar system produces more electricity.

Finally, the icing on the cake is that the solar company maintains, insures and guarantees the system’s performance for the entire duration of the solar lease. This means that homeowners avoid maintenance costs while always resting assured that their leased system is operating at optimal performance.

Option #2: Pre-Paid Solar Panel Lease

A pre-paid solar panel lease delivers many of the advantages of ownership with some significant benefits that only a lease can provide. Pre-paid lease programs, like Geoscape Solar’s EasyOwn lease, are 20-year leases featuring a single significantly discounted upfront payment. You never have to make another payment again and when the lease expires you have the option of keeping your system. It really is the best of both worlds. Moreover, just like a traditional lease, the leasing company takes care of maintenance, insurance, and guarantees system performance. The pre-paid solar panel lease is one of the most popular NJ solar power options.

What Type of Lease Should I Choose?

The terms of solar leases can vary, depending upon how much money a homeowner is interested in putting down upfront. A zero-money down lease is quite common and obviously a good fit for homeowners that don’t want to pay any cash up front. On the other end of the spectrum, a prepaid lease arrangement is one in which the homeowner is as close to owning the system as possible while still actually leasing it. Naturally, this requires a relatively larger upfront expenditure, but also provides the best return on investment and the most solar savings.

Regardless of your leasing choice, you should know that you might still get an electric bill. It all depends on the size of the system that you can fit on your roof or property and the percentage of your electricity usage that your system covers.

In short, solar leasing is revolutionizing the solar industry making solar accessible to really any homeowner that is interested in going green. If you thought you couldn’t afford solar…maybe it’s time you think again!

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Why Solar Is the Clean Energy Choice

Clean Energy TechnologyClean energy resources are receiving a lot of attention these days and central to the debate is picking the next clean power winner. Put simply, what people really want to know is which clean power source can serve our energy needs in the most cost-effective manner.

Solar energy, hands down, takes the cake in both departments. When all things are factored into the equation, like New Jersey’s clean energy financing options and the industry’s technological advancements, solar simply stands out as the most reliable and cost-effective clean energy resource of all.

Solar is the Most Viable Clean Energy Source

For starters, when choosing a clean energy technology, the first thing to consider is which resource is actually viable. Unlike wind, geothermal and biomass, which have glaring geographic limitations, solar energy can be harnessed effectively nearly everywhere, because the sun shines all over; it can even be captured when it’s cloudy. As an example, many Pacific Northwestern states are seeing solar markets take off, despite having some of the most overcast days in the country. With its frequency of sunny days, just imagine how effective solar is in New Jersey…VERY!

Solar Has Most Reliable Output and Then Some

Beyond the fact that New Jersey has plenty of sunlight to work with, most studies point to solar as the winner when it comes to energy output; meaning, solar out-produces its competitors. As such, unlike wind or biomass, homeowners can feel secure that they’ll have ample electricity to meet their daytime demand. In some circumstances, homeowners may even have a surplus of energy, which can be sold back to the grid!

Solar, Clean Power Financing Drives Costs Down

This leads to my next point – New Jersey’s solar industry has a robust clean energy financing infrastructure that, when factored into the equation, sets solar apart from all other clean energy sources from a cost standpoint. The Federal government has made available a 30% investment tax credit (ITC) right off the top. As well, the state of New Jersey has a strong SREC program that delivers additional revenue from your solar system.

In addition to incentives that drive overall costs down, there are a number of financing options available that make investing in solar a no-brainer. With Geoscape Solar, consumers can lease a solar system on a month-to-month basis with no money down or you can choose our Solar EasyOwn™ prepaid lease option that reduces the cost of a solar system by nearly 40%!

Solar Pays Back From Day One

Aside from the upfront costs, it’s important to also look at the big picture. Unlike a monthly energy bill, a solar photovoltaic system means solar owners start receiving the returns immediately through a reduction in their monthly bill. Beyond the incentives, that I explained above, New Jersey has established net metering policies, whereby solar producers can actually sell their excess electricity back to the grid and generate revenue at retail prices.

Solar is the Clean Energy Technology Choice for New Jersey

Whether it is the cost, the incentives, or the savings, solar energy is the clean energy choice for New Jersey. You owe it to your self to understand why solar has an outstanding return on investment, it positive for the environment, and will reduce your monthly expenses. It really is a no-brainer.

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NJ Solar Power…2012 Looks to be a Bright New Year!

NJ Solar Power is strong in 2012

Solar Power is bright in NJ

NJ has been embracing solar power solutions in record numbers these past few years and this trend shows no sign of slowing down in 2012. The New Jersey solar power benefits have never been stronger, making solar power a very easy decision for most homes and businesses. Every aspect of the technology is more efficient than ever and with the powerful solar economics that SREC’s provide, most systems can be paid for in a few short years, producing free electricity for decades.

Solar Prices Keep Dropping

Solar panels continue to become more affordable as the manufacturing techniques and materials used in their construction steadily improve. The surge in solar power installations has increased the volume of solar panels being produced, which further reduces your solar system costs and increases your solar power savings. These panels are fast approaching the magical $1 per watt number that many experts agree will be pivotal for solar power economics, fueling a continued burst of installation activity.

Federal & NJ Solar Power Incentives Remain Strong

The incentive programs that help reduce the cost of the average solar power system are still in place in 2012 and can lower the financial burden of a solar solution considerably. Federal solar power incentives include the 30% investment tax credit, which applies to any system installed until 2016. As well, NJ’s solar power incentive SREC program continues to provide additional return from your solar investment. Even though the SREC values have fluctuated for the current energy production year, recent moves by legislators demonstrate the state’s strong commitment to NJ solar power.

Technology Has Never Been Better with Solar Microinverters

Solar Microinverter

New Solar Technology - The Solar Microinverter

Solar panels have never been more efficient with technologies like microinverters helping to make them even better. These solar microinverters have been shown to increase a system’s efficiency by 16% over an older central inverter solution. Microinverters also make the system more flexible and easier to expand. The solar panels themselves are also thinner and more durable than older designs and can better resist damage from the elements to provide years more service at a lower cost.

Solar Power Is Easy To Afford

The payback period from your own solar system is probably less than you think.  There is a wide range of solar power financing options available to help you afford your new solar power solution. End-to-end solar energy companies, like Geoscape Solar, offer low cost solar power financing programs for these systems that can easily be paid back from the system’s energy savings and the SREC’s they generate. If solar ownership isn’t right for you, solar leasing options allow the homeowner to take advantage of this amazing alternative energy solution with no money out-of-pocket and still save on their monthly energy bills. Solar panel leasing is a great way for homeowners to lower their monthly energy bills without spending anything on a solar power system.

So, make 2012 the year for solar power for you and/or your business.  There really has never been a better time to go solar.

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NJ SREC Prices Will Rise

New Jersey SREC Prices Increase

NJ SREC Prices Will Rise

Yes…a bold statement, and maybe a little bit risky, but we believe, ultimately true.   Many current and potential customers are concerned about NJ Solar Renewable Energy Credit pricing.  And, they should be.  New Jersey SRECs are an important  (but not most important) part of a solar system’s overall return.   But, looking at the current market dynamics, we believe that prices will improve.  Here is why…

The NJ SREC Market

The NJ SREC market is indeed a market that functions with the laws of supply and demand.   The legislated Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) sets the demand side of this market-based program.  The supply side is generated by all of us who install solar systems in New Jersey.

Because of the incredible response of individuals and companies, for the first time since the beginning of the New Jersey SREC program, total installed solar capacity is on track to exceed the Energy Year 2012 RPS requirement.  Prices have dropped considerably from last energy year’s highs.

Supply and Demand Always Win

After the initial panic, we are seeing some firming up of prices, trading between $200 and $250 with continued low trading volume.  According to Jeff Chavkin, Geoscape Solar President with over 20 years of commodity floor trading experience, here is what we are experiencing and expect to happen in the coming months:

  1. Some NJ SREC owners will choose to hold onto their certificates – believing the demand for them will continue to rise.  SRECS in New Jersey may be held for 3 years.  In fact, Geoscape Solar is currently not trading SRECs for our Geoscape Solar owned systems or for our Solar Easy Tradecustomers
  2. At very low prices, power companies will buy all the SRECs they can get hold of, knowing they can use them to satisfy future years’ RPS goals and avoiding much higher future SACP payments.
  3. As SREC owners withhold their certificates, power companies will have to pay higher prices to motivate the sellers.

    Ultimately, prices will rise when there is a stronger demand from increasing RPS goals in relation to installations and all of the “cheap” NJ SRECs are off the market.  Not every project that has been registered will be built, as financing becomes more difficult.  The market will reach an equilibrium that will entice New Jersey SRECs into the market at fair pricing.

    NJ Needs Solar Jobs

    NJ can not afford to destroy the solar industry…one of the only bright spots in the state’s job creation void.  The state assembly recognizes this and in June passed S2371.   Instead of energy providers purchasing 596,000 SRECs in 2013, S2371 would require the purchase of 772,000 SRECs—the amount allotted in 2014. The rest of the schedule would remain untouched out to 2026.  By advancing the NJ SREC goals, this will increase demand and push SREC prices up.  S2371 was passed in the State Senate on June 29, 2011, and remains in the hands of the Assembly Telecommunications and Utilities Committee. The bill would address the “problem” of solar being built-out too fast in the state.

    Regardless…Solar is a Great Investment in New Jersey

    As you assess NJ SREC’s impact on your solar investment, there are a few critical elements to keep in mind:

    • SREC sales are not the only component of your solar cash flows – the 30% tax credit, depreciation for commercial solar systems and electricity savings that increase over time as utility rates inflate are all unaffected by SREC sale.
    • Without receiving a penny from your SRECs – ever – you would still recover 100% of your solar investment in fewer than 15 years, with 10-15 more years of free electricity
    • With NJ SREC prices as low as $100 per year for all 15 years, your rate of return on the solar investment would still be around 10% per year
    • By permanently reducing your electric bill, you increase the value of your home or business
    • By installing solar, you are doing your part to reduce carbon emissions, helping our environment now and for future generations
    • Solar is the only investment where you have no risk of losing your money and can expect a rate of return ranging from 10% (if SREC prices stayed perpetually low) to 20%+ at more stable SREC prices

      We like to look at New Jersey SRECs as the “icing on the cake”.  The SREC program runs for 15 years.  There will many ups and downs.  Solar can provide a great return for you in energy savings and do good for our environment.  SRECs are a bonus.

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      Solar Shingles…Cool Idea with Bad Solar Power Economics

      Solar Shingle Solar Power Economics

      Solar Shingles Not Ready for Prime Time

      95% of all households in America currently have asphalt shingles on their roof. These fossil fuel burning, heat absorbing, short-life span shingles are one of the cheapest forms of roofing around. Some people who are considering putting on a new roof are considering solar shingles.  They should think again and consider the solar power economics!

      What’s the buzz about solar shingles?

      Solar shingles are similar to traditional solar PV cells in that they also contain semiconductor based devices, which convert sunshine directly into electrical current. The one addition that solar shingles bring to the table is improved aesthetics.

      The main draw to solar shingles within the solar power marketplace comes from the buyers who look to have an alternative to what some may deem to be unattractive rooftop racking units. Despite what seems to be an attractive proposition, solar shingles have considerable performance and financial issues that all solar customers must know.

      It’s going to cost how much?

      When you initially find the cost to install solar shingles, your first reaction would undoubtedly be some version of “wow, now that’s a low price!” But, this is an illusion. By simply focusing on a low upfront cost, you would be setting yourself up for a VERY LONG PAYBACK.

      Why would you choose to have a significantly longer economic payoff relative to using traditional, proven solar panel technology? This reason alone should be enough to dissuade a potential solar customer from this unproven technology.

      Longer Payback and Bad Solar Power Economics

      With each solar shingle being much less efficient then a normal polysilicon panel, you would have to install shingles on a much larger roof area cover a reasonable amount of your current electricity usage. Solar shingles are also vulnerable to hail and damage from strong winds, inevitably raising your home insurance. Clearly, you ultimately want to have more efficient panels per square foot, allowing for better solar panel economics, despite the seemingly lower initial cost of solar shingles.

      Less Efficient with Poor Solar Panel Economics

      For solar shingles to actually work to their full efficiency and achieve optimal solar power economics, they need to be put on a roof at a perfect angle to catch the sun. Many roofs are not angled optimally for solar shingles. With traditional solar systems, there is more availability to customize the pitch of the solar array to optimize production and solar panel economics.

      Stick With What You Know

      Aesthetics do hold an important place in the decision making process, but at the end of the day, it’s not worth making a bad investment that reduces solar power economics. Today’s solar panels are not the old school bulky panels you may be envisioning.  A modern day solar system is sleek and attractive. Ultimately, solar shingles are a new technology that brings a lot of promise to the industry, but they are not ready for prime time.

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      Top 8 Solar Myths

      Don’t believe everything you hear in the news.  The solar industry is vibrant in New Jersey and meaningfully contributing to the economy locally and nationally.  More importantly, is providing a significant investment return and electricity savings to New Jersey businesses and homes.

      SOLAR MYTH #1: There are no jobs created by the solar industry

      Today, the solar industry employs more than 100,000 Americans, double the amount of solar workers in 2009. They work at more than 5,000 companies, the vast majority being small businesses, in all 50 states. The industry grew by 69 percent in the past year, making it one of the fastest growing sectors in the U.S. economy.

      SOLAR MYTH #2: Solar only works in states like California.

      Solar energy works in all 50 states. Germany has more installed solar capacity than any other country and it receives roughly the same amount of sunshine as Alaska. Less than one-third of the photovoltaic (PV) capacity installed in the U.S. in the second quarter of 2011 was installed in California. In fact, more PV was installed on commercial buildings in New Jersey than in California during that quarter.

      SOLAR MYTH #3: The market for solar energy is very small.

      The U.S. solar energy market is big and growing fast. In 2010 alone, $6 billion worth of finished solar energy systems were installed in the U.S. The U.S. solar energy market grew 69 percent in the second quarter of 2011, helping aid our economic recovery. In fact, many analysts project that the U.S. will become the largest solar market in the world in the next few years.

      SOLAR MYTH #4: Solar energy is too expensive for widespread usage.

      Solar energy is already cost effective in many locations across America. The price of solar modules has dropped 30 percent since the beginning of 2010 as the industry scales up and companies innovate with new products and manufacturing techniques. Also, new financing options allow homeowners and businesses to start saving money on their utility bills as soon as they turn on their solar systems.

      SOLAR MYTH #5: If solar power really worked, it wouldn’t need government support.

      The U.S. decided long ago to support energy sources since energy drives our economy. Every major energy source and technology has benefited from federal government R&D support and incentives of various types. This is true of the oil, natural gas, hydroelectric, nuclear and biofuels industries—all of which continue to receive government support today.

      SOLAR MYTH #6: Solar products are all made in China.

      The U.S. was a significant net exporter of solar products in 2010, including to China. Total U.S. exports of solar energy products was $5.6 billion, with net exports totaling $2 billion. Of the $6 billion in direct value created by U.S. solar installations in 2010, more than $4.4 billion, or 75 percent of the value, accrued to the United States.

      SOLAR MYTH #7: Solar devices require more energy to manufacture than they produce in their lifetime.
      Studies have conclusively demonstrated that energy payback for photovoltaic (PV) energy is now less than three years. Given that PV module warranties are generally in excess of 20 years, a PV system will produce far more energy over its lifetime than was consumed to manufacture it. Technological progress is reducing the energy consumption of PV manufacturing further. Energy output and input ratios for concentrating solar power (CSP) and solar water heating equipment are also favorable.

      SOLAR MYTH #8: Solar energy needs a technological revolution to go mainstream.

      Solar technologies available today already provide enough electricity to power 630,000 American homes. Solar panel prices have fallen 30 percent in the past year and a half. No scientific breakthroughs are required for solar energy to power America. Solar is ready and available today; it only needs smart and consistent policy to thrive.

      Source:  SEIA

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      5 Critical Questions about New Jersey SRECs – Get answers about SREC prices & more

      The Current NJ Market for SRECs:  The Questions You Need Answered

      1. Why are SREC prices lower than earlier this year?

      The market for SREC trading ends on 5/31 of each year.  This means that Energy Year 2011 ended and Energy year 2012 began on 6/1.  The Energy Year 2011 SRECs were (and are) trading near the ceiling or SACP (Solar Alternative Compliance Price) because there was more demand than supply of SRECS.  Energy Year 2012 will be the first year where it is expected that supply of SRECs will be greater than the demand.  The result of the phenomenon is, as expected, that prices would decline.  What is important to recognize is that this price drop is not permanent and that prices for SRECs should increase over time, as supply becomes better aligned with demand.  Also note that SREC’s have a 15 year life!

      2. Has the SREC market crashed?

      A market crash is normally characterized by a loss in investor confidence.  What NJ is experiencing in the SREC market is more akin to a market correction where pricing is being brought in to line with supply.   Confidence has not been lost in SRECs, people are simply reacting to the supply and demand dynamics.

      3. Will SREC prices recover?

      The questions should not be “will”, but “when”.  No one knows for certain what will happen in the future, but based on the targets for solar production set in the RPS, as well as the possibility of escalating those targets, we are confident that you will see an end to oversupply and a re-firming of SREC prices in the next year or two.

      4. Will the state do anything to support the NJ SREC market?

      The SREC market is immature.  While it is generally recognized that the NJ SREC market is well constructed, it is not perfect.  As it experiences growth pains, like today, it is expected that New Jersey will step in and makes changes to ensure its viability.  Changes could include accelerating the growth of the RPS (Renewable Portfolio Standard) targets, adding a floor to the pricing for SRECs, and/or create an auction mechanism to stabilize SREC prices.  Everything we have seen from Trenton confirms the state’s unequivocal support of the solar market, one of the state’s only real job creators during this recession.

      5. Will my return on my solar investment be less compelling?

      Solar is the only investment where you have no risk of losing your money and can expect a rate of return ranging from 10% (if SREC prices stayed perpetually low) to 20%+ at more stable SREC prices.  It is important to remember that SRECs are only one component of your overall return including government tax credits, and electricity savings.  Solar remains one of the best investments around and Geoscape continues to invest its capital in the New Jersey solar market.


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      The Sun is Shining in New Jersey

      Commercial Solar Projects NJ by Geoscape Solar

      The Sun Shines in NJ

      Ten years ago, if someone was trying to peer into the future of solar energy and the states that would be leading the way…who would have guessed that NJ would be the fastest growing state for solar, have the most solar per square mile, be #1 in incentives, and #2 in total solar installations?  It is breathtaking.

      Geoscape Solar is proud to be New Jersey based and to serve the Garden State.  We believe that there isn’t a better place in the country to install solar.  Our goal is help as many people as possible install residential solar and commercial solar.

      What is Solar Done Right™?

      When our company was founded, we realized that NJ solar companies were not doing a particularly good job of educating customers on their options or providing much transparency into the assumptions they used to project the financial returns of solar PV.

      Geoscape Solar decided to take a different approach to solar.  At the core of our how we interact with customers is to treat them with respect and educate them about the sometimes confusing solar incentives, returns on investment, and specifics of installing solar. We understand our customers’ need to know what assumptions underlie our projections and will happily update those assumptions to reflect our customers’ beliefs…on the spot!

      We always believed that even if a customer chose another company for their solar project, we wanted them to believe that no one educated them better about solar than Geoscape Solar.  Solar Done Right™ is our comprehensive approach to delivering an unparalleled customer experience from sale to installation, and for the life of your system.  You deserve no less!

      Why do you want solar?

      We also know and respect that everyone has different needs and goals for their solar project.  For some, it is the desire to do something positive for the environment and to reduce our dependance of foreign energy.  Others are looking to reduce their energy bills, while some are looking for an investment with an attractive return.  No matter what your reason, solar is a great choice.  Our singular goal is to help people experience the clean, renewable energy solar produces…at prices that make sense.

      So, now is a great time to go solar.  We hope you find the information on this blog and our site useful.  Most importantly, we are happy to help you with your questions and to teach you about solar.   Let us be your trusted guide on your journey to solar…it is our pleasure!

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