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The Beat of Gaia's Heart

Going Solar

I took a HUGE step today. I signed on the dotted line to go solar.

I already drive a Prius, and have wanted to put solar panels on my home for years but couldn’t quite make it happen; something always seemed to be out of sync. When rebates were available, I was in the throes of planning a relocation for my job. When the relocation and the job fell through, the rebates were exhausted and money became a much more serious issue. Solar became a dim dream, something that I still hoped to do some day but no longer considered an immediate possibility.

But then Sungevity (http://www.sungevity.com) stepped in and made me, as they say, an offer I couldn’t refuse. Solar company Sungevity, through partnerships with various environmental and social groups, is offering a way to lease a system of solar panels at $0 down. Yes, you read that correctly; ZERO. It’s not a purchase of a system; it’s a 15-year-long lease, during which time Sungevity will maintain the system free of charge (subject, of course, to all the usual legal disclaimers, which actually seemed pretty reasonable – and subject to my own disclaimer: I am not an attorney, nor do I play one on TV).

The company recently partnered with Lowe’s in an effort to make solar “as easy as ordering pizza”—their words, not mine. There are all sorts of guarantees, and the system they designed for my house (other houses with different configurations may have different results) is supposed to save 81% of my electric use – something I could really use right now, in the middle of a hot summer!

They have quite a deal set up: there’s the zero-down-payment plan, if you’ve always wanted to go solar but haven’t had the cash to do so, or you can opt to pay an up-front fee that greatly increases your savings over the life of the lease. You can even make that up-front payment on a sliding scale, and they have a neat calculator on their site that will show you how the size of the down payment reduces the size of the monthly lease payments – and how much you will save on electricity, too, for the life of the lease. Guaranteed. And how the environmental benefits add up – now that is pretty impressive.

In the end I chose to try to pay for it up front; one thing that helped with that decision was the fact that I would get $1,000 back from the organization through which I received the offer. So that cut my cost, and that’s how I’m planning on having the system put in.

If you’ve ever wanted to do solar, but lacked the money (and in this economy, who doesn’t?), I think this is the way to go. I will blog about the whole process, so that anyone who might be interested can read about how my installation goes and see if they want to follow suit. This is all new to me, although I did do quite a bit of research on solar systems a few years ago before that erstwhile relocation – so I will be learning as I go, and if you wish, you can learn right along with me. I won’t be posting about it every day, since the process takes time, but every time there is a development I’ll put it up here for everyone to see, and I will let you all know how smoothly (or otherwise) it goes.

Thus far, the way it has worked is this: I went to their website, put in my address and e-mail address, and got a quote via e-mail within 24 hours based on information available about my house on the Web. I spoke with my contact there (Patrick, who sent me the quote – he’s a great guy, very enthusiastic and knowledgeable), and he explained how everything works. When I decided I wanted to go ahead with it, we did the paperwork online, and he explained any points in the contract and guarantees that I might have questions on. Two electronic signatures later, I was embarked on The Great Solar Adventure.

Patrick tells me that next week I will hear from my project manager and a date for a physical inspection of the house will be set so that Sungevity can be sure that the job can be done the way they estimated. Once that is out of the way, the real process starts. I’ll tell you more about that when I know more.

If we go through this whole process together and you decide you’re interested in a similar deal (or if you don’t want to wait that long), I can tell you that if you go to Sungevity and tell them you read about it on my blog, they will give you the same deal I got – $1,000 cash back toward the cost of your system. They do that even if you choose the zero-money-down option. Pretty cool, right?

One more disclaimer: they also have a generous referral program at present, which could help me pay for the rest of the cost of the system if anyone else takes advantage of it and mentions my name. (It will do the same for you, if you decide to have their system installed and then refer people back to them.)

To get the $1,000 cash back offer, all you have to do is tell them you saw it here on my blog. (Tell them when you first call to inquire. Sort of like, “Present coupon when ordering.”) You’ll get $1,000 back to offset part of the cost of the system, you’ll have solar installed on your house, you’ll start saving on your electric bill, AND you will have the satisfaction of knowing that your energy comes from a clean, self-contained solar system and not from coal, with all its pollutants; natural gas, with all the controversy over fracking and groundwater contamination; or nuclear power and its attendant risks (remember Fukushima).

Sounds like a win-win to me. And, as my very able contact at Sungevity, Patrick, said, “Sometimes the stars have to align just right.”

One huge step for me. One small step for the environment. Care to join me?
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