Consumer Advocacy


How SOL POWER helped a rental property owner turn a solar lemon into "Solar Rental Lemonade"

by Mary, Brentwood CA


Mary is a retired senior citizen that owns rental properties in the East Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Area. Mary has been suffering with health problems and her cognitive skills were somewhat diminished.

Recently, Mary was informed that a solar finance company would soon place a lien on her home for non-payment of a solar loan. Bewildered, Mary called SOL POWER to determine the best means to understand and then resolve the matter.

Apparently, Mary had been harassed and stalked by a “Unlicensed Home Improvement Salesperson” that worked for a Bay Area solar company.  The Unlicensed Home Improvement Salesperson somehow coerced the elderly woman to sign the agreements, despite the fact that she would not recall the entire transaction and had no idea what she was signing up for.

Nonetheless, Mary was locked into the solar purchase and financing agreement for 30 years with a cost close to $6/W-dc for the installation. Mary contacted PG&E, but received no help! She contacted the solar company and they threatened to place a lien on her home!

Mary then contacted SOL POWER because she was in a no-win situation with no where to turn!”

“Help! I have solar and I cannot get it turned on! And, I’m being threated by some company that they are going to put a lien on my home!”

SOL POWER immediately contacted the solar company and politely requested they look into the matter, but most importantly requested a reduction for the installation cost. After multiple conversations, the owner personally became involved and reduced the cost of the system for Mary.

But this was only Step #1!

The Unlicensed Home Improvement Salesperson had somehow convinced the tenant living in the rental to sign off on PG&E documents promising a lower utility bill. But when PG&E determined the renter was not the homeowner, then Mary became the proud owner of a solar energy system on her rental property that she was obligated to pay for on a monthly basis, but had no means to recover the utility expense from the tenant.

And she could not obtain Permission to Operate from PG&E. To make matters worse, the tenant was moving and now Mary had to foot the bill for the vacant rental and a solar energy system loan payment. A real solar lemon! However SOL POWER’s solution was simple!

  1. Negotiate a lower install cost for the solar system so the monthly finance payment would be reasonable.
  2. Contact Mary’s property management company to make them aware of the tenant issue at the property.
  3. Work with PG&E to get the electricity service in Mary’s name to apply for a Net Energy Metering Agreement
  4. Work with the property management company on new lease language for a “Utilities Clause” to the new rental agreement. The new agreement increased the price of the rent to cover the now modest finance payment that would be covered by rental income fees.

So here’s the ingredients for “Solar Lemonade” for a rental property:

  1. Mary’s tenants will never have to forgo thermal comfort for the sake of a lower utility bill!
  2. Mary’s property appreciated over $40,000 due to the solar addition!
  3. Mary’s property will be less likely to be vacant or deteriorate due to extreme heat and cold conditions and mold and mildew related to poor indoor air quality!
  4. Mary’s rental may now be leased at a premium to other local comparable homes due to the “electricity included” rental agreement!


Strategic Planning

  • Mary: SOL POWER receives authorization to Act on a Customer’s Behalf
  • Solar Installation Company: SOL POWER to negotiate lower installation rate ($/W-dc)
  • Solar Finance Company: SOL POWER to negotiate compelling payment factor and term
  • Property Management Company: SOL POWER to facilitate new “Electricity Included” rental agreement clause
  • PG&E: SOL POWER to coordinate PG&E Standard Net Energy Metering Interconnection application for Permission To Operate

Project Development

  • Solar Installation Company: Installation rate to be reduced to facilitate an equitable positive cash flow transaction.
  • Solar Finance Company: Finance company to forgo lien process for amicable resolve while reducing payment factor and interest rate
  • Property Management Company: Notifies tenant of pending update to rental agreement.

Project Finance

  • Solar Installation Company: Installation rate reduced by almost $1/W-dc.
  • Solar Finance Company: Solar finance agreement renegotiated to provide a favorable monthly payment that will create positive cash flow with modest increase to rental agreement.
  • Property Management Company: Tenant rental agreement renegotiated and accepted based on market rate and electricity provisions.

Project Delivery

  • Solar Installation Company: To submit PG&E Standard Net Energy Metering Interconnection application to  obtain PTO

Project Revenue

  • Mary: Increased Property Valuation and Rental Income
  • Property Management Company: Rental property agreement with all electric clause will lower vacancy rate resulting in less turnover related work and expense for management company
  • Tenant: The tenant enjoys the greatest benefit since they no longer have to forgo thermal comfort and indoor air quality for the sake of a lower utility bill!