Wednesday, September 8, 2010

SolarCity Provides San Francisco Electricity at Less than Grid Price


Lyndon Rive is the chief executive officer of SolarCity, a startup that leases solar panels to property owners. He encourages San Francisco residents to consider and take definitive action on going for solar energy.
Solar energy became a viable proposition in the city, even for those with less financial clout, due to incentive schemes launched by the authorities in July..
The incentive program for San Francisco extends monetary support, to be utilized for the installation of solar panels, ranging from $3000 to $6,000 to property owners, $10,000 to businesses and non-profit organizations and $30,000 to non-profit entities which provide low cost housing. The program is scheduled to stay in effect for a decade.
This drive to encourage the use of solar power complements a matching program to offer a discount of $1.90 per installed watt and also 30 percent federal investment tax credit (ITC) for solar power. These incentives spell good times for even the less financially privileged in their attempt to opt for solar energy as an alternative.
Rive states that a majority of San Francisco residents pay a differential rate for their energy usage- those who consume more power have to pay a higher rate. The rates range between 12 cents per kilowatt-hour and 36 cents per kilowatt-hour, depending, of course, on consumption.
Before opting for solar energy, most clients of SolarCity have had to pay between 23 cents and 31 cents per kilowatt-hour for electrical power. But with the advent of the incentive package, even consumers who had paid as low as 12 cents per kilowatt-hour for electricity can be expect to make savings upon opting for solar panels- according to Rive.
“For as low as $25 per month, you can get a 2.4-kilowatt capacity system,” he said.
Chris Clark, who lives in Inner Sunset, a misty area in San Francisco, is almost through with concluding a lease agreement with SolarCity. “It‘s going to reduce our bill significantly with the city rebate, probably 40 percent,” he said. Clark, who has to spend around $120 per month, on electricity bills, is expected to cut it down to $70 per month once SolarCity installs his system in August.
John Stubblebine, who belongs to Cupertino, California, had solar panels fitted out on his roof by SolarCity about a month back. He chose to pay an initial amount of 8 percent on the $35,000, 6-kilowatt solar panel system.
“You can choose to pay zero, 8, or 16 percent of the system. Since I chose to put in a slightly more expensive system, there would be a slightly higher rate without a down payment,” he said.
The immediate upshot of his investment was a reduction of his electricity bill from $158 per month to $116 per month. However, he noted that he was still required to pay a token charge to Pacific Gas and Electric for meter readings. Further, the rates he is required to pay for electricity have been altered from a static rate to one which depends on usage, with maximum rates applicable during the midday, when demand is generally highest.
“You settle your bill with PG&E by the end of the year. If you‘ve used more electricity than you produced, you pay all that. If you‘ve used less, you don‘t get money back,” he explained.
SolarCity, since its inception in 2007, has had enviable growth- from two employees to almost 300 currently- and harbors hopes of at least recording a 100 percent increase on its 30 million dollar profits for the current year.
Despite competition from Bay Area newbies like Sun Run, Clean Power Finance and GroSolar, SolarCity has extended its presence to places like Arizona and Oregon, with plans to cover the East Coast as well by 2009.

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