Lease the Sun FAQ

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Your Independent Ecopreneur:

Mike Schaul

(919) 863-6654

email:

First, for the spammers who collect emails, info@leasethesun.com will go straight to trash. Unfortunately, you the human will have to decode the following:

solar <at> leasethesun <dot> com

 

 

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Lease the Sun questions

Overview

 

How does the program work?

 

Planning

 

When will my system be installed?

If it will be that long, why should I sign up now?

What is the risk to signing up now?

What will it cost to sign up now?

When is the first time I pay anything?

When do I pay after that?

 

Cost

 

How is my rate determined?

When do I start saving money?

How much will I save?

What’s my bottom line? What comes out of my pocket and when?

What happens if new technology lowers the utility’s price?

 

Things change

 

What happens if I move?

What happens if my family’s usage changes?

 

Business of Solar

 

Tell me about the company that’s doing this.

I heard there’s a silicon shortage. How will CitizenRE meet the demand at the price they expect to pay?

Why do you rely on net metering instead of helping me get off the grid completely?

 

Safe and Sure

 

Is it safe?

Will I have power if there’s are outage?

Who else is using solar?

Will it damage my roof? If it will, will CitizenRE repair the damage when the panels are removed?

Do I have to insure the system?

 

Making Money

 

How do I become an Ecopreneur? What does it cost to be an Ecopreneur?

Can I get this program for my residential rental properties?

Can I get this program for my commercial property?

 

Lease the Sun answers

How does the program work?

The salient points are:

        The only upfront cost is the $500 refundable, interest-bearing deposit.  No installation or purchase cost!

        The installer's engineer comes to your house shortly before installation and designs your photovoltaic system that meets your annual power consumption needs and is suitable for your house.  The deposit is paid after you sign off on the design.

        Your solar power is interchanged with the grid, so there are no storage devices. You sell to the power company while the sun shines and buy back at night.  (KISS principle.)

        You pay for the solar power generated.  The rate is fixed for the 25-year lease (there are shorter options) at the utility's current rate.  No price increases for 25 years!

        The photovoltaic system is continuously monitored.  Repairs are done promptly because if there is no power being generated, you don't pay. The photovoltaic panel configuration can be changed if the power usage changes (change in family size, etc.).  If there is a change noticed in monitoring, that will be brought to the homeowner's attention so an adjustment can be made. Your rate stays the same.

When we put solar-generated electricity into the grid during the day, i.e., the peak usage period, we reduce or eliminate the need for new power plants.  Everyone can participate and make a difference for minimal cost. Your property value will probably go up as the utility’s rates go up and your solar power cost stays the same.

Return to questions. Return to home. Sign up.

When will my system be installed?

We’re not sure yet when the factory will be ready. The first systems are expected to be installed soon after that. If you sign up now, your position on the queue will probably get your system to you late in a year or so. (There are already more than 33,000 customers in the queue ahead of you!)

If it will be that long, why should I sign up now?

If you sign up today you

   Pay nothing until the engineer visits shortly before your installation, i.e., there is no cost and no risk to signing up now. (If you get a better deal while you’re waiting, just tell us to take you off the list.)

   Reserve your place in the installation queue. Yes, it may be a year or more before you get your system, but if you wait a year to sign up, it could still be another year.

   Lock in today’s rate before it goes up! You’re setting your electricity cost for up to 25 years, and, if you wait, it could be more. Why wait?

   Tell the Sun-Blockers Congress, your utility and your state legislature that you’re serious. Sign up neighbors, and start educating your homeowner association (some of the worst Sun-Blockers!) that solar is beautiful.

Sign up today!

What is the risk to signing up now?

None. You have no commitment until the engineer designs your system and you approve it. One caveat: if the engineer offers you a workable plan, and you decide you really didn’t want solar, after all, you may go on a “do not serve” list. To prevent that, you should cancel no later than when the engineer calls to make an appointment.

What will it cost to sign up now?

A few minutes of your time. That’s all.

When is the first time I pay anything?

When you approve the engineer’s plan for your house. That’s when you pay the $500 refundable interest-bearing deposit.

When do I pay after that?

You’ll receive monthly bills for the power generated. You’ll be billed equal payments each month based on the power rating of your system. If it generates more, you benefit. If it generates less (due to weather or other reasons), you get a rebate.

Return to questions. Return to home. Sign up.

How is my rate determined?

CitizenRE has calculated the average rate for each utility company based on rates it has filed with the state utility commission. These rates are on their website, and your rate will appear on your Forward Rental Agreement (FRA) that I will send you after you sign up. That is your rate. If you wait to sign up until after your utility raises its rates, you will pay the higher rate for the full term (1, 5, or 25 years) of your FRA. Don’t wait! Sign up now.

When do I start saving money?

If your utility’s rates are higher than on your FRA, you save money from the first kilowatt hour. Otherwise, you start saving when all your neighbors start paying higher rates and you don’t.

What’s my bottom line? What comes out of my pocket and when?

Immediately, when you sign up – nothing.

Just before your system is installed, after you approve the system design – $500 deposit for most houses, up to $1000 for large houses.

When your system is operational – approximately what you are paying now, averaged over the year. Your rate is set when you sign your Forward Rental Agreement, and it doesn’t change for the lease period (I recommend the full 25 years). So, if your utility raises its rates before your installation, you still get today’s rates.

What would this system cost me to buy?

CitizenRE doesn’t sell residential systems. However, a man recently told me that he had spent $35,500 to put a 4 kw system on his house. He doesn’t have enough income to benefit from tax credits. However, he is able to sell the excess to his utility. I doubt he will ever break even compared with leasing the sun.

I saw an expert explain how, by using North Carolina’s very generous tax credits, a homeowner could install a 2 kw (minimal) system for just under $10,000. The homeowner is responsible for maintaining the system, as well as dealing with moving, reroofing, etc. The owner of a PV system in a sense buys the sun and handles all the support issues that CitizenRE will handle for you.

Return to questions. Return to home. Sign up. Sign up.

How much will I save?

How much will your utility’s rates go up?

What happens if new technology lowers the utility’s price?

Fat chance! But, if there really is a way you can save money, tell CitizenRE to take the system off your roof. As long as you meet your obligations, the worst that can happen is that will probably lose your deposit.

Is it safe?

As safe as any other source of electricity. In theory, it could fall off the roof and hit you on the head, but so could a tree branch. Be careful during hurricanes and tornadoes.

Will I have power if there’s are outage?

The first consideration is the safety of the repair people working to restore service. Any power coming through the meter from you can be dangerous to them. CitizenRE is working on a way to connect you that allows you to have power from your panels while not endangering the repair people.

Who else is using solar?

Frankly, not enough homeowners because of the large cost – until now. (Other countries are way ahead of us, and the surprising thing is that the leader is Germany, not some tropical or desert country.) This program will change all that. 25% of all US homes by 2025 is a reasonable goal. However, more and more businesses are using solar. Wal-Mart plans extensive use of photovoltaics for its stores. The Norfolk and Southern railroad is using solar to run all those isolated signals along the tracks (they are using solar-powered batteries to provide nighttime signals). A manufacturer of electric cars wants to put solar on mechanics’ roofs to allow recharging away from home. It is rumored that one hybrid maker is planning to put solar on its car roofs to run the A/C. (I love that idea – the more the sun heats your car, the more it cools it!)

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What happens if I move?

You have choices. You can take the system with you. The first time is free. After that, there will be a reasonable fee. Or, you can transfer the lease to the new owner(s), assuming they accept the contractual obligations. At worst, you can ask to have the system removed and forfeit the deposit.

What happens if my family’s usage changes?

The franchisee will monitor your usage. If it changes, they will add or remove panels so that you continue to generate enough to break even with your electric utility. Obviously, over 25 years, depending on your age, your family could get bigger, then smaller, then maybe bigger again, and your needs will be met. Of course, you don’t have to wait until the franchisee discovers that you have a new baby, the baby has gone off to college, or that your parents have moved in.

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Tell me about the company that’s doing this.

The name is CitizenRE, i.e., Renewable Energy for you, the Citizen. When you follow the link to sign up as a customer or as an Ecopreneur, you’ll be on their website where you can find more information about them.

I heard there’s a silicon shortage. How will CitizenRE meet the demand at the price they expect to pay?

Their factory will be totally vertically integrated – sand in, photovoltaic panels and all connection gadgetry out. They have contracts for plenty of raw product at a reasonable price.

Why do you rely on net metering instead of helping me get off the grid completely?

Getting off the grid is less efficient and more damaging to the environment. It requires a lot more panels. You have to be sure you have enough capacity, for both generation and storage, to get through a multi-day storm. Batteries at the moment are still the weakest link. They are inefficient, and they qualify as hazardous materials. They probably won’t last as long as the rest of the system. Also, when you are connected via net metering, you are cutting down the utility’s peak need by being an extra source of power to the grid. If you’re off the grid, you actually make less of a contribution to the societal goal of reduced dependence on large power plants.

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Will it damage my roof? If it will, will CitizenRE repair the damage when the panels are removed?

CitizenRE will carry a special insurance policy that will be activated at the site review signing/down payment. It will cover any damage from installs and removals.

Do I have to insure the system?

Most insurance companies will insure any item that is attached to the house (and leased) under their “18 perils” clause. If you have a problem, CitizenRE is looking into a low cost supplemental policy for the panels.

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How do I become an Ecopreneur? What does it cost to be an Ecopreneur?

Unlike most programs that allow you to sign up both customers and other distributors, there is no charge to become an Ecopreneur. CitizenRE provides training materials and requires you to pass a test to qualify. After you sign up, you will have access to the training materials and test. CitizenRE is so serious about having knowledgeable independent distributors that they upgraded the training and test in the Spring of 2007 to weed out people who weren’t properly committed. Sign up here.

Can I be an Ecopreneur if I rent my own home?

Yes. Sign up here.

Can I get this program for my residential rental properties?

Yes. The procedure is the same to sign up, except that you complete both a billing address, and a physical address.

Can I get this program for my commercial property?

CitizenRE plans to sell systems for commercial buildings, and financing will be available. If you want to be notified when it’s available, send an email with basic information about the building (city, size, type of roof, etc.) to solar (at) leasethesun (dot) com.

Return to questions. Return to home. Sign up.