FAQ, aka “Frequently Asked Questions”
Most of the answers to the main questions about how this program works are below. Please email us if we missed anything.
These are examples of electric bills and how the utility charges you. They take the amount of kwhs consumed for the month and multiply that by many different factors, such as the supply rate, delivery rate, EmPower MD, county taxes and a couple others. Solar does not work this way, we have one rate without all the add ons.
Above you can see the graph chart that shows your monthly usage details. This is why we need to see a copy of a recent electric bill so we can design the system according to your annual needs.
We totally expect most people to sell their home within the 25 years and to simply transfer the agreement to the new buyers since they will certainly need electricity too, just like when you transfer your regular electric bill to the new buyer. If you have lived in the home for 10 years, then they will have 15 years remaining on the agreement. We have a 100% transfer rate and when the person buying your home has signed the transfer agreement, you will be released from your obligations under the PPA.
Basically as long as you don’t intentionally damage the System, the leasing company has an insurance policy on each solar system and will bear all of the risks whether there is damage, loss, destruction, theft or similar occurrence to any or all of the solar system.
Yes, simply call your lender and they can remove the fixture filing that is on the loan, or contact the PPA leasing company and they will temporarily release it, and then it will be put back on the new loan after you have completed the refinance. The PPA leasing company cannot prohibit the sale, conveyance or refinancing of the property. With approximately 2 million of these leases across the country and 70,000 in Maryland, this process has become very standard.
No, this is covered by the leasing company who will obtain insurance against any damage or loss, which includes any damage caused by faulty installation or manufacturing defects, or malfunctioning of the system.
If you are to purchase the system then you need to check with your home insurance company concerning adding extra insurance for the solar system. The annual amount is usually below $100 and sometimes does not add any amount.
Warranty on the solar components: During the entire PPA leasing term, under normal use and service conditions, the System will be free from defects in workmanship or defects in or a breakdown of materials or components.
Roof Warranty: We will warrant all of the system’s roof penetrations to be watertight and the roof warranty will run the longer of (A) ten (10) years following the completion of the System installation; and/or (B) the length of any existing installation warranty or new home builder roof warranty.
During the entire term the leasing company will honor the System Warranty and will repair or replace any defective part, material or component or correct any defective workmanship, at no cost or expense to you which include labor costs.
And if you purchased the home with the solar already on the roof, the warranty will cover you for the remaining balance and term of the existing PPA.
No. It is a UCC-1 Fixture Filing which is not a lien nor an encumbrance against the property, and it is intended only to give notice of its rights that relate to the solar system itself.
If the property was to go into foreclosure, your lender has the right (yet is not obligated) to terminate the PPA and have the system removed. Now, for clarity, the leasing will not prohibit the sale, conveyance or refinancing of the Property.
This PPA lease is free of any restrictions that would prevent the homeowner from freely transferring their Property to a new home buyer. So only in foreclosure is the option to have it removed available, and the bank may choose to not have it removed if the new buyer wants to transfer it into their name which is usually what happens in foreclosure situations.
Simply contact the leasing company before the end of your term, usually within 90-120 days, to remove the System from your Home at no cost to you.
The leasing company must create a priority stream of operation and maintenance payments to provide enough cash flow in order to pay for its Warranty obligations for the full 25 years.
Yes, you have the option to renew your PPA for up to ten (10) years in two (2) consecutive five (5) year renewal periods.
No, Maryland has very strong laws in favor of solar, and does not tax solar power.
The average time period from signing to completion is 60-90 days.
The Install Process involves: Inspection of your roof, completion of the final design, application and approval for any local permits needed, HOA application process if necessary for your community, and the interconnection process with the utility. Once we have all of these items, we can call to schedule your install. After install we receive the final approvals from your county, and then the PTO or Permission To Operate from the utility, and then we can turn on your system. At this time is when you should expect your first bill, usually within 30 days of the day we received PTO.
You are still hooked up to the grid, so any additional energy or kwhs needed will be provided by your electric utility company. Just remember how the net energy meter works. The excess that the system made during those sunny days and sunny months will get you thru cloudy days and nights, and the less sunny months. Your electric bill with the utility will show the rollover kwhs from month to month and list this in the “Excess Generation Summary” on their bill.
All of the electric energy made by the solar system goes into your electric panel or back feeds the grid and you receive the credit at that moment. And if at any time you need more electricity than is being produced by the solar, then you will be responsible for purchasing that additional energy from your utility.
Please remember that this is where the net metering of the bidirectional meter “banks” the additional kwhs that the system either made today when the sun was shining and you didn’t use all of those kwhs, or from when it “banked” the extra kwhs from a previous month such as in the spring or fall when a solar system typically makes more kwhs than your home will need, and these rollover to future months where the solar may not be able to make all of the electric, such as in December. As you can see below, this customer after solar has now wiped out almost all of their kwhs for the year, simply needing 87 total kwhs over the last 12 months! And at the bottom you can see the excess kwhs already being banked for next winter.
Yes, after year 5 and on your anniversary each year, you have the option to purchase this system at Fair Market Value. This is one of the reasons why the PPA is such a great option. It allows you to have solar installed on your home without any upfront costs and immediately save money on your electric bill without having any type of obligations of ownership or any type of loan. Then if you decide one day after year 5 that you want to own the system then great, this is an option!
When the electric grid goes down, your solar power system will not work. The reason for this is it is against the law for the solar power to be backfeeding the electric grid while the grid is down, let’s say after a storm. This is called islanding, and the inverter has anti-islanding technology so when it senses the grid is not working, it automatically shuts down the solar system at the inverter so it doesn’t backfeed any excess solar generation to the grid while a linesman is working on the grid to get it back up and running. There is nothing the homeowner needs to do, it will automatically come back on once the grid is up and running again.
Yes, your HOA may still require you to fill out their normal HOA application for the solar panels, yet they are not allowed to say no to the installation as per state law. Specifically, the Maryland Real Property Code “prohibits any restrictions that (1) significantly increase the cost of a solar system, and/or (2) significantly decrease the system’s efficiency”. Some requests such as solar panel color and solar panel placement do, in fact, increase the cost and/or decrease system efficiency and are illegal per Maryland statutes.
The main thing is that we use only the best looking panels which are all black panels with a matching black frame, and we hide the conduit in the attic as long as it is possible. You can check out our picture gallery to see this.
We will inspect your roof before installation. Once you agree to sign up for solar, the next step is we send out an inspector to get up on your roof to do a full inspection to check for any existing soft spots and wear and tear of shingles. If we recommend you to get a new roof first, then we will tell you this. At this point, if you are unable to pay for a new roof, then we will simply cancel the agreement. Or, if you decide to have the new roof installed, then great, we’ll continue with the project and getting the permit approvals while you work with your roofer to get the new roof installed.
Yes you may cancel or you may continue with the project and a Change Order will be required that reflects the new numbers. We always send the final design to you via email to make sure you know exactly where the panels are being installed, the amount of panels, and the production from the system on an annual basis.
We always tell people that if they are planning on doing additions or renovations to the roof area where the solar is going to be installed, it is best to wait until you have completed those projects before moving forward with solar. However if you do go solar and then you decide to do renovations to that area, then we would need to remove the system at your cost, you would do the renovations, and then we would reinstall the system at your costs.
Just like your utility, your solar system also has a monitor that you can see in your solar portal online. We also are able to monitor your system within our portal to make sure that the system and each panel are working toward their full capacity. This monitoring is done thru local cell towers and internet service at your home is not needed for our monitoring as other companies require. The monitoring is part of the 25 year full package.
For the monthly payment you set up ACH which is Automated Clearing House, and you have a couple of choices for which date your monthly payment comes out of your checking account. If you instead choose to put on a credit card, then a 10% fee is charged. We strongly encourage to set up the ACH, and 99.9% of our customers want to do this anyway.
You can either pay a fixed monthly amount which is based on: the total amount of kwhs the system will produce over the course of the year, multiplied by our low kWh rate, and then divided by 12 for 12 months. This is essentially a budget bill.
Or, you can choose to pay each month for the system’s kWh production that month multiplied by our low kWh rate. This would mean more of a fluctuating bill each month. And always remember, your Excess Generation from the previous sunny months will go toward those cloudier winter months.
The PPA lease and the solar loans all require a 650 FICO credit score, and require no upfront money. And leasing does not add to your DTI, or Debt To Income ratio. We are simply replacing one higher electric bill with now a lower one.