I just want to update my warning about Citizenre because of a comment I read on a Treehugger.com forum about someone thanking Ed Begley, Jr for his referral to Citizenre. The commenter not only thanked Ed, but said they were happy with the Citizenre service…which is impossible.
First of all, for those who don’t know, Citizenre is a company that is supposed to rent solar panels. That’s great, and nothing new there. Many companies are doing some version of a solar lease or a solar PPA.
However, I find it difficult to believe that any Citizenre system is working or sold, as of the writing of this post in July 2009 January 2010. First of all, as of July 2008, Ed Begley, jr has had nothing to do with the company. How do I know? Through this Citizenre press release.
Second, Citizenre’s business plan is based on making its own solar panels. Yet, its own website says that its factory location has not even been decided—let alone built. It also encourages those who do not want to wait for their factory to buy a system now through a NABCEP certified installer. This is from their own website. Read their full statements here. But I quote:
We want to make very clear that the location of Citizenre’s manufacturing facility is still in negotiation. And, as with all scheduling, delays can occur. If you have the financial ability to buy a PV system today, we urge you to do it. Our environment and economy need you to act as soon as possible.
I admire Citizenre for its goals of renting solar and also for being fairly honest that it is nowhere near providing this service. (Think about it: The factory location doesn’t even have a location! Citizenre is years away…if ever.) I also commend the company for not taking any deposit money upfront. Their intentions seem to be well meaning, but their business plan is apparently very flawed.
As the Citizenre’s own website suggests, please don’t delay getting solar. Solar quotes are generally free, so you have nothing to lose by getting a quote from a NABCEP installer in your area–as Citinzenre also suggest in the full statement. And if you live in a net metered state with solar subsidies and have enough home equity, you may be surprised at how affordable solar is today. It’s not your 1980’s solar anymore.
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, there are also other ways to buy solar, such as solar leases and solar power purchase agreements (solar PPAs). These are becoming more common and typically have low money down….but in the long run, you pay out more with a solar lease and a solar PPA than you would if you bought solar. Plus, you’re locked into 15 -20 years of payments. Don’t get me wrong: Solar leases and solar PPAs still save you money over your regular electric bill. It’s just not as much money if you buy. So if you can swing the home equity loan, buying is most cost effective.
In any case, I don’t know how the person commenting on Treehugger was thanking Ed Begley, jr for Citizenre service, given what the Citizenre website says. So please,don’t wait for Citizenre. If you want to go solar, find a qualified installer in your area now.