Economics Can’t Support the New “Solar Economy”
Welcome to the world of “solar leasing.” This is a new business model pioneered by a handful of solar panel companies in the last couple of decades in which the solar company “leases” panels to homeowners – sometimes covering installation and other associated up-front costs – in order to provide and sell solar energy to customers.
A key variable in this business model is what is called “net metering.” In a lot of jurisdictions, homes with solar panels that are also connected to the traditional power grid get to sell their unused solar energy back to the local utility company for a profit. In fact, in many places, the power companies are required to buy back excess solar energy. And, as you can imagine, this comes with political fights.
In places with net metering mandates, there are local regulatory authorities that set prices at which the power companies are required to buy-back this excess solar power. Naturally, power companies fight for lower prices to be set on these net metering mandates. Solar panel owners and solar panel companies fight for higher rates.