What Happened When I Bought a House With Solar Panels

By Esmé E. Deprez : bloomberg – excerpt

Third-party ownership and decades-long contracts can create real headaches.

On a rare rainy day early last year, my husband, Alex, and I toured what, with any luck, would become the most exciting and daunting purchase of our lives: a cream-colored bungalow-style fixer-upper, built in 1924, a few blocks from our rental in Santa Barbara, Calif. What the house lacked in curb appeal, it more than made up for in charm and utility: the original built-in cupboards in the dining room, the way the light streamed in from copious windows, the fenced backyard for our wirehaired mutt. Moldy linoleum in the bathroom would be easy to rip up. A shower head inexplicably hanging above the kitchen sink would be easy to rip out. The location was a big draw, as was, at least initially, the fact that the red pitched roof of the two-car garage was outfitted with 17 solar panels. We’d get to do our bit for the planet…

I’d soon learn that the system was tied to the title of the house. It appeared that if we bought Jug’s place, we’d have to assume his lease arrangement with Sunrun. I wasn’t sure how I felt about this as a buyer, but it definitely piqued my curiosity as a journalist. I set out to examine the value proposition carefully…

There’s more to the story, including the fact that Jug’s solar panels never worked at full efficiency. This was because of what Sunrun characterized as “severe shading” caused by the next-door neighbor’s tree. That’s right: Sunrun installed the system beneath a big old tree. This makes me again question the judgment of Jug’s salesperson. Sunrun has a production guarantee—if the system underperforms, you get a credit. In Jug’s case, $203 was credited to his account on July 17, 2017, half a year after his death… (more)

We need to push the state legislators to fix the”severe shading” problem caused by both trees and higher denser buildings going up nearby solar panel powered roof systems. Now that they are required on some homes, they should be protected from shadows. Perhaps this is a case for the courts to decide?


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