Tesla Motors Founder to Lease No-Money-Down SolarCity Solar Panels

When you're green, you're green: Tesla Motors chairman Elon Musk's other gig is SolarCity, a solar energy company that just announced it would lease panels to residents of San Jose with no money down. Typically going solar requires a US$20K to US$30K install, or at the very least, a US$2,000 down payment, so a no-cash-upfront proposition is nice. But further reading suggests it may not be the homeowner's dream come true.

The Mercury News says:

In a typical scenario for a 2.8-kilowatt system, Rive said, a customer with a US$150-a-month electric bill before installing solar would end up with a US$60-a-month electric bill, an US$80 or US$90 monthly lease payment to Solar City, and thus "positive cash flow" of as much as US$10.

But to me that sounds as arbitrary as it costing $10 more. Maybe you can't put a price on the smug feeling you'll get from being the first on your block with panels, but there's also a small matter of SolarCity's 15-year contract to ask about first. One hopes a long-term contract like that will provide regular upgrades as solar-power conversion gets more and more efficient. [Mercury News via TreeHugger; SolarCity]