Solar leases and power purchase agreements (PPA) can be a cheaper, less-hassle way to get solar panels on your roof. Many companies handle all of the paper work, national grid connection and other hurdles surrounding installing a home solar power system. But before you sign a solar power agreement, there are a lot of things to consider. Most solar leases or power purchase agreements (PPA) involve a 15-20 year term, which is quite the commitment. If you’re looking into signing a solar lease or PPA, it’s best to make an informed decision and know you’re with a company you can trust so you can protect yourself from unexpected costs or worse. Make the best decision for your home by considering these five tips before signing a solar power lease or PPA.

  1. Thoroughly read the contract. A 15-20 year commitment is a long time. While there are many given benefits to installing a solar power system on your rooftop, you need to be sure that the benefits detailed are fair and protect you from any potential mishaps. Read your contract several times and be sure it’s not missing anything you expected. If your solar representative is promising you things that aren’t listed in your contract, remember that verbal agreements don’t always hold up after you sign the dotted line.
  2. Find out about tax credits, rebates and refunds. If you were to go about it alone and install a home solar power system without a third-party company, you would be entitled to various tax credits, rebates and incentives, depending on what state you live in. On top of that, if you produce more energy than you use, you’ll receive a credit from the utility for the unused power you added to the grid. These incentives vary from state to state so be sure you do some research. Inquire with your solar power company about whether or not you will remain entitled to these benefits if you sign a solar lease or PPA with it.
  3. Be sure you’re receiving professional service. If you’re signing up with a solar company, it’s best to be positive that its credentials are in order. You wouldn’t want an unlicensed worker installing or maintaining your panels. Solar power systems are complex. Not to mention, if not properly installed, they can damage your roof. Before signing up, look up license numbers to ensure you’re getting the service you’re entitled to.
  4. Understand exactly how much you’ll be paying. Part of the allure of going solar is the potential savings but it’s best to know for sure how much you’ll be saving. A legitimate solar lease or power purchase agreement should detail your exact pricing terms. For a lease, this should include what your flat monthly payment will be each month of your contract. A PPA should include your rate per kWh for your entire contract. Also be sure that any extra charges are listed so you’re not caught off-guard in the future.
  5. Make sure the system is covered. Typically, in a solar lease or power purchase agreement contract, the solar company owns the system and should therefore be responsible for maintaining it and making sure it’s running properly. Triple-check that your contract details the terms of maintenance and repairs. Some companies also cover any potential damage to your roof during installation, removal and the time in between.
  6. Know your options if you have to move. Considering how long a solar contract is, it would be best to know what happens if you have to move. You never know what’s going to happen – you could be relocated or just fall out of love with your home. Most companies offer a contract that is transferable to the next homeowner. Relocating your solar power system may also be an option.

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