First Solar, the maker of thin-film solar panels, signed a deal this week with SolarCity, a California based solar system installer, to bring thin-film solar panels to the residential market. SolarCity currently runs a solar panel leasing program that allows homeowners to go solar without a large upfront investment, and they will be continuing the leasing program with the First Solar thin-film panels. The deal calls for First Solar to supply 100 megawatts of thin-film solar panels to SolarCity over the next five years, beginning in early 2009, and SolarCity hopes to use the new panels to expand its leasing program to more states – they’re currently in California, Arizona, and Oregon – to include east coast states like New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey who offer additional state incentives for solar power.
The SolarCity SolarLease program allows homeowners to get solar panel systems without an upfront investment, because you would be leasing the system from SolarCity rather than buying your own solar power system. Monthly lease payments are usually lower than what you’re currently paying for electricity, and rates are locked in for the length of the lease.