Going solar doesn't have to cost a grip

Stephen Mark tells me he's really trying to save energy. He recently installed energy saving appliances and lights in his Santa Monica home.

He drives a hybrid car, and his yard is being converted into drought tolerant plantings, but his latest environmental move was to put in solar power.

"I feel good that I'm not drawing from the coal power plants," said Stephen.

But solar is expensive and the panels on Stephen's roof could have cost over $30,000 after rebates and tax credits, yet that's not what Stephen paid. His cost was only $10,000 and now he's saving big time on his utility bill.

"My bill for the past month is $10.64, last year it would of been $191," said Stephen.

Sounds pretty good doesn't it? But is $10,000 still too much for you? How about a $1,000 and pay about the same or less on your utility bill than you are now? It's all possible through a company called SunRun.

"As the system owner, I'm in charge of the system. I do everything it takes to produce power, all Steve does is enjoy the low cost bills," said Tom Harvey, SunRun.

Here's how it works: SunRun owns the solar panels but for a $1,000 they'll install the panels at your home, then maintain them and insure them against earthquakes. You then pay SunRun a monthly fee that is fixed for 18 years even if your utility company raises its rates.

"As a business it's much less expensive for us to own a solar facility then it would be for a homeowner. We're able to pass those savings along to the homeowner in the form of a monthly bill," said Tom.

This concept is not for everyone especially if you think you might move because then you need to convince the new owners to get on the plan or you have to pay for the system.

SunRun is the first third party solar company to be approved by the LADWP. Now, there is another solar company doing something similar and they are called Helio Power. They will install solar panels at your home for no up front cost, but your monthly bill can go up whenever Edison or LADWP raises their rates.

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