SolarWorld has jumped into the fray of companies that offer solar under a third-party ownership (TPO) arrangement through its new Freedom Plan. The company is now introducing the plan in the Hawaii market, which has some of the most expensive electric costs in the U.S.
“With abundant sunshine and some of the nation’s highest utility rates, Hawaii is an ideal place for homeowners to reap the financial and environmental benefits of solar,” said Rusty Pittman, director of marketing for SolarWorld Americas, a subsidiary of the German-based SolarWorld AG. “SolarWorld’s Freedom Plan makes the decision to go solar easier and more affordable for Hawaii residents.”
Under the Freedom Plan, homeowners can choose zero-down, low-down or prepaid options for a SolarWorld array. Under the first two options, the homeowners will pay monthly payments designed to be lower than homeowners would pay for electricity off the grid. The program includes the installation of PV array and other equipment as well as system installation, monitoring services, system insurance and maintenance for up to 20 years.
To supply the Freedom Plan in Hawaii, SolarWorld partnered with solar distributor Inter-Island Solar Supply. It’s also working with a number of solar installers on the island state to install the arrays and is seeking more installers to join the program.
“We are excited to partner with SolarWorld to bring the Freedom Plan financing program to the Hawaii’s homeowners,” said Ron Richmond, manager of business development for Inter-Island Solar Supply. “The Freedom Plan enables Hawaii families to reduce their electric bills by removing the high cost of purchasing a PV system.”
SolarWorld launched the Freedom Plan earlier this year in California. Now it is available in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts and New Jersey. The company also plans to roll out the plan in Arizona and New York this year.
The company said its Freedom Plan is differentiated from other TPO options in that it guarantees the modules used in its installations are American-made. However, other U.S. PV manufacturers, like SunPower, also offer TPO services for homeowners. SunEdison, another U.S.-based solar company with manufacturing in North America and overseas also offers financing options.
Overall, TPO ownership—which includes power-purchase agreements and some lease arrangements with solar installers or companies that specialize in TPO arrangements—are one of the fastest growing segments in the solar industry. And as more states clear the way for such arrangements, by allowing TPO and or creating net-metering programs that help reduce the up-front costs of solar, they’re helping more people in the U.S. go solar directly.