So, this summer I started researching solar. I looked into several options, from multiple companies. Apparently, my house is a good candidate for solar. Two different companies gave me quotes for systems, but purchasing them outright would require a significant cash outlay, and I am not in a position to do that at this point.
Fortunately, both companies also had $0 down lease/PPA options. The initial offers were similar, in that both had 5.64 KW systems, and both were for around $0.23 a KWh. The main difference was in the yearly escalator clause. One had a 3.5% escalator, the other a 3.9% escalator. Both companies projected I would save between $1500 and $2000 a year by going solar.
Since I don't trust salesmen, I did the math myself. PG&E has a tiered rate system. Tier 1 is around $0.12 a KWh for up to 100% of baseline, tier 2 goes up to $0.14, but only for between 100 and 130% of baseline. Then, the ripoff rates kick in. Tier 3 is $0.30 a KWh for up to 200% of baseline, and then it maxes out at tier 4 at $0.34 a KWh. Since the baseline is 18 KWh a day in summer and 28 KWh winter, and according to my PG&E smart meter, I use between 40 and 85 KWh a day, I am continually paying the highest rate possible for the power.
The system should generate roughly 8000 KWh a year, if they all save me $0.11, that is roughly $900 a year. Not bad for paying nothing, but then it got better. One of the companies offered to give me the first year free. So, that is 8000 KWh I am getting at a savings of $0.34 each, a first years savings of $2700. Of course, in year 2 I go back to paying for it, but that extra $1800 in savings the first year is what is motivating me to get the system installed. Without that, I was on the fence.
There is still some risk, since the solar rates go up 3.5% a year. If PG&E rates stay flat, in year 13 solar will be more expensive for me then PG&E. If baselines increase dramatically, then the savings can disappear. Neither scenario seems likely, but who knows?
I just received the paperwork from the salesman, and I plan to sign it on Monday. By the end of the year, the system should be installed. I will track the progress and savings here. Hopefully, it all goes according to plan.