“Wow! We should be putting all that energy to better use,” agreed Nan Profitt. “At work, we’ve been trying to find a cost-effective way to add solar panels to our building. But as a nonprofit we don’t pay taxes, so programs like federal tax credits for solar don’t do us any good. Besides that, raising the up-front capital would be tough,” she lamented.
“Lucky for me,” Wanda Solarize said, “as a tax payer, I can benefit from that 26% federal tax credit, and I could swing small monthly payments. But I don’t have the up-front cash either. Oh well. I guess it’s, ‘Sorry Mr. Sun, but it’s too hard for Nan and me to make the most of your energy.’”
That evening Nan happened upon an article describing a concept called Third Party financing. She learned there are two models used most often: power purchase agreements (PPAs) and solar leases. Both pretty much eliminate up front barriers such as installation and maintenance costs for folks who can’t afford direct ownership as well as the obstacles for organizations that can’t access tax credits and utility rebates.
In both models, home owners, businesses or nonprofits install a solar system on their own property. Often there’s no upfront costs. Under a PPA, the customer pays for the electricity generated by the solar system at an agreed-upon rate. With a lease, a customer leases the solar system and benefits from the electricity the system produces. The key is this; the customer doesn’t have any installation or upkeep responsibilities. Twenty-six states allow third-party financing. And those states have far more installed solar than states like Wisconsin, that don’t specifically permit 3rd-party financing.
“But the Wisconsin legislature is currently working on a third-party financing bill,” Nan explained. “Let’s encourage our elected officials to pass it. Then our ‘Earth Star’ will shine even more brightly for us here at our only home where we’re all forever… Earthbound.”