Solar Power On The Cheap For Maryland, D.C. Homeowners

Maryland and Washington, D.C. homeowners, how would you like to get solar power installed on your rooftop for free? Rockville-based Clean Currents is partnering with SolarCity to offer just that, via a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) that will allow homeowners to purchase solar-generated electricity at a rate lower than the local utility company offers, but still pay back the cost of the system over the long term, removing upfront costs. So what’s not to love here?

Under the new program, homeowners sign a fixed-price PPA with Clean Currents and get a free solar panel installation on their roofs from SolarCity. The latter company also also insures and monitors the systems, guaranteeing their performance and providing necessary repairs at no additional cost. As an added benefit, both electricity supplied by the local utility and electricity generated via the rooftop system will be encompassed by a single bill, removing potential confusion from the process of running two sources of juice.

solar power

image via Grid Point

“The Clean Currents Solar PPA will vastly improve how homeowners buy clean electricity in Maryland and Washington, D.C. by allowing them to lock in a competitive fixed rate for decades, while helping the environment and promoting green power,” said Gary Skulnik, Clean Currents’ President, in a statement. He goes on to note that the partnership between Clean Currents and SolarCity has resulted in a first-of-its-kind product.

And if that weren’t enough to get homeowners on board with rooftop solar, Clean Currents is offering the first month of solar power free to anyone who signs up before World Environment Day (June 5th, 2012). The program will be limited to specific utility territories in Maryland and Washington, D.C. initially, with plans for future expansion. More information is available here.

Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.

6 Comments

  • Reply June 2, 2012

    Charlie Barrett

    One question: Which group of taxpayers are REALLY paying for all the upfront costs of panels, grid-sync inverter, and installation, which can amount to $40,000+ to completely power a house?

    If it’s just being financed for 30 years by the Federal Government, then we’re ALL paying for it through inflation, because the only way the Federal Government can loan money is for the Fed to print it out of thin air line it did in QE1 and QE2..

    Hopefully Romney will cut the bleed, and restore normal market forces to prevent another bubble.

    • Reply June 2, 2012

      Jaycee0207

      From my research, taxpayers are not shelving the the bill anymore for complete systems.  Solarcity is a private firm that has teamed up with the energy company mentioned in this article.  Solarcity is financing the projects.  Of course, there is the Investment Tax Credit (ITC).  This used to be a grant- which would be footed by the taxpayer, but it expired last year.  The ITC reduces the tax liability of the entity.  So these entities have to have a tax liability in order to reap the benefits of the fed. program. 

      -This ITC does reduce tax receipts for the government over time, but as a conservative, this can be viewed as a good or neutral thing (its not the governments money anyways, its ours).

      -The government no longer guarantees loans under the 1705 act, so we are not going to risk future solyndra’s.

      -In the long-run these projects promote self-dependence, which is something all conservative support.  

      Although you are factually right about the deception of inflation and I hope Romney wins, your analysis on the the taxpayers footing the bill is wrong in a post-1603 grant life.  

      Research solar some more, you will realize that it has become a viable investment option, with returns of up to 25% if you purchase the system yourself and do not lease.  

      Funny enough, I am a conservative and just got a job with a solar manufacturing company just because I have a passion for self-sufficiency.  

      Hope this post helped

  • Reply June 25, 2012

    Kyle Sager

    @Charlie Barrett: In 2008, DOE issued solicitations for $6 billion in loan guarantees for projects that incorporate carbon capture and squestration (CCS) or other emissions-reducing carbon technologies into retrofitted
    and new coal plants, or industrial gasification activities, and $2
    billion for loan guarantees for advanced coal gasification projects.  Coal accounts for 47 percent of tonnage and 25 percent of revenue for U.S. railroads.  Railroads get loans and loan guarantees from the Department of Transportation and the Federal Railroad administration and receive numerous tax incentives.  Coal plants receive tax-exempt financing and interest subsidies for bonds that place millions of taxpayer dollars in coal plant investments.  Virtually ALL Gigawatt+ coal facilities now in planning stages will receive massive federal loan guarantees.  Numerous nuclear plants have failed to complete construction or go operational yet all new nuclear facilities are receiving loan guarantees and in Georgia rate payers are now paying 4 years in advance for non-operational nuclear facilities that (if anything goes wrong and they follow examples in South Texas and New York) one day might not even go live.  All of these examples shift risk taking onto tax payers and rate payers.  PPA financing — which is what this article is ABOUT — shifts risk onto private companies willing to absorb the risk.  Why try and make an article about PPA financing about something else, subsidies? If it’s about subsidies, then at least do competing fossil fuel and nuclear subsidies equal courtesy.  This comment just barely scratches the surface on fossil fuel and nuclear subsidies.   kyle sager heliocurrent.com

  • Reply June 25, 2012

    Kyle Sager

    I love your treatment of SolarCity.  The company is helping move the industry forward nationally.  In Georgia, where I reside, the local utility is lobbying against legislation to allow PPAs that permit companies like SolarCity to work their magic.  As a result, we barely have 2 Megawatts installed in Georgia in the entire state as of early 2012.  That will improve in 2012 but we are always way behind.  Some “citizen lobbyists” have reported that state legislators here in Georgia are afraid of the utility lobby; and early this year, Senate Bill SB-401 was shuffled to a committee not expected to act on it.

    Every time I read an article like yours here on PPAs I am very encouraged.  PPA financing will likely be very central to transforming energy production as we move further down the grid parity curve.  GREAT ARTICLE.  Two thumbs up. (btw…you know that Elon Musk is partly behind SolarCity too, right?  The only reason I bring it up, the car industry told him he couldn’t make the Tesla work either…until the Vice Chairman finally stepped up and said politely that Musk broke the industry wide open.  I’m a HUGE SolarCity fan.  We need them in Georgia.)

  • A nice and motivating idea to provoke people to use solar panels over the roofs. This will play a major role in saving environment as well as money…!! I wish your project great success….:)

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