Austin’s Green Mountain Energy Co. has introduced a program that allows residential customers to lease solar panels for a monthly fee.

Green Mountain, founded in 1997, was acquired last September for about $350 million. The company sells renewable energy from wind, water and solar sources.

The new program doesn’t sell the actual solar arrays to customers, but rents the equipment using a 20-year lease that includes installation, insurance, warranties and monitoring. Although Green Mountain is based in Austin, the power retailer’s product is not available to Austinites because Austin Energy, which is run by the city, doesn’t operate in a deregulated electric market.

In traditional markets, Green Mountain partners with utilities that want to offer renewable energy products to their environmentally conscious customers. The company is currently working with Portland General Electric as well as utilities in New York and New Jersey that run multi-supplier green pricing programs.

“Think of a car lease, where the homeowner leases the panel from a third party who ‘owns’ the solar array,” said Jason Sears, senior product manager at Green Mountain.

He said the upfront cost for a typical solar panel installation on a home sans rebates usually runs around $28,000.

So will the new program save customers any money on there monthly power bill? According to Green Mountain, not really.

source: bizjournals