If you meet certain income thresholds, you currently have access to one of the best solar power deals available today for your Connecticut home.
This is not a purchase, but a solar lease. In this post, we’ll go over the basics of this Connecticut version of a solar lease, and in the next post, we’ll look at the pros and cons of this particular program. Overall, however we think it’s a great affordable, no-money down deal.
In terms of qualifying for this solar lease:
- As the name implies, you must own a home in Connecticut and you also must be a customer of CL&P or UI utilities.
- Your household must make less than 200% of your area’s median income and those thresholds vary by how many people live in your household. See this chart here. But it’s pretty generous. For example, if you’re a 4 person household in Bridgeport, you qualify if you make less than $162,00 a year. If you make more than the 200% formula, than the thinking is you can afford to buy and benefit from the 30% Federal tax credit.
- Your FICO credit score has to be good, not great, at around 650 or better.
- The amount of home equity left in your home is not a factor.
- Finally, the program approved solar installer is going to have to make sure that your home is right for solar. Typically, this means you have to have a South, South West, South East East facing roof, your roof’s in good condition (5-7 years old), and you’ve got minimal shading on the roof.
Now let’s talk about how much:
- Nothing up front. O. Zero. Zip. Hello? Nada.
- The minimum term of the lease is 15 years. It’s extendable to 20.
- As always, your monthly cost will depend on how much energy you use and how much you want to offset by the solar panels.
- A typical 4KW system will run you $97 a month. A 5KW system for larger homes will be around $120 a month. If you decide to extend the lease to 20 years, that gets kicked down to a sweet $29 a month for the 4KW system and $36 a month for the 5K!
- For really big energy hogs, a 10Kw system is $238/month for the first 15 years, $71 for years 16 to 20.
- If they size it right, your solar lease payment plus whatever’s left over from your regular bill should be less than what you’re now paying. Perhaps not by much, but less. So again, no-brainer.
- The lease payment is FLAT. So unlike the California Solar City lease model, there’s no increase in your lease payment every year. Nice.
- You get “solar dividends.” This is a standard program that allows you to share in the sale of the panel’s Renewable Energy Credits (RECs). RECs are similar to carbon credits and their price is variable. The money earned goes into an account that you can use towards paying for a new inverter or eventually removing your system. Inverters usually conk out every 10-15 years.
- You can buy your solar system for fair market value (FMV) after 20 years. This could be almost nothing or a few hundred bucks, but nobody knows until we get to 20 years from now.
So what’s the risk in all of this:
- It’s a 15 year, or more likely, 20 year commitment. But the lease is transferable to a buyer, so there’s a good chance that’s not going to be a big deal. It might even help the sale of your home.
- It’s a bumper to bumper warranty for 5 years. After that, you take care of everything. But solar is notoriously low maintenance and the panels themselves are warrantied for 25.
- The maintenance is up to you and so is the panel performance. That means if you don’t wipe down your panels every few months or you decide to plant a tree for more shade, don’t blame the CT Solar program if your regular electric bills are going up.
- When you decide to end the term at 15 or 20 years, it’s going to cost you something to take off those panels. How much? Depends on the (un)-installer at that time. But by law, you can’t yank them off yourself. But your Solar Dividends account is expected to take care of this cost.
In the next post, we’ll get into a more pro and con analysis. Meanwhile, if you live in Connecticut and want to get more specifics, call one the program’s pre-qualified installers and get a quote. Couldn’t hurt.
Last modified: May 16, 2019