Perhaps no U.S. state has seen as dramatic a turn in its solar market as Florida. While the state had only a few pilot projects before 2016, the last two years have seen an explosion of utility-scale solar, which has propelled the state to become the third-largest market in 2017.
Rooftop solar has been slower, hindered in part by a ban on third-party solar due to the state’s prohibition on sales of electricity by any party that is not an electric utility and cannot provide power 24/7.
However, a crack in that wall opened in April when Florida regulators declared that Sunrun’s 20-year solar equipment lease is not a sale of electricity and does not make the company a utility subject to its regulation. And as of today, Sunrun has begun offering both its leases and its Brightbox energy storage service to Florida consumers.
Sunrun says that both the solar lease and Brightbox are available now in the service areas of Tampa Electric, Duke and Orlando Utilities Commission, and that it plans to expand to the rest of the state “shortly.”
Despite being the company that brought the issue to the state’s public utilities commission, Sunrun was not the first to begin offering solar leases; Sunnova announced that it had begun offering its leasing options in the state a week ago. However, Sunrun brings the market presence of the largest third-party residential solar provider in the nation.
This move to open up Florida to third-party solar comes as the national share of third-party solar is declining, with more consumers choosing to utilize the increasingly broad array of loan options now available on the market.
However, the ability of Florida homeowners to be able to choose to own or lease their PV system is good news for the state’s residential market, which Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) expects to keep growing, at least through 2023.