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Environment

Leased Solar Systems Dominate The U.S. Marketplace

Sullivan Solar Power Construction foreman, Cesar Chaidez
Katie Schoolov
Sullivan Solar Power Construction foreman, Cesar Chaidez

Most people who install solar arrays on their homes, don't own that system, but a new study says that could be changing.

A new report by solar industry watcher GTM Research found that more than 70 percent of the solar array's installed for homeowners are leased.

Researcher Nicole Litvak said the leased systems are attractive because there is an instant return.

"Those types of financing models give customers year-one savings so they have no up front costs," Litvak said. "They just start paying for their power or the monthly lease payments."

More people are buying solar systems because they can cash in on generous federal tax rebates, said Litvak.

Under the leasing system the installer gets that cash.

Homeowners are starting to realize that companies that install leased systems are keeping substantial federal tax incentives, Litvak said.

Even so, prices are dropping and so are incentives.

"There's also a lot of local incentives in most of the major state markets," Litvak said. "However, we're already starting to see states like California in particular that are moving past those state and local incentives and being able to make the economics work."

Litvak said she expects the number of homeowner-owned systems to surpass leased systems by 2020.