At this point, pretty much all of the major residential solar power companies who had signed power purchase agreements everywhere else in the country are now approved to sell a solar lease product in the state of Florida.
The State of Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) has given a recommendation of “Yes” as to whether or not Tesla’s SolarLease product can be sold into the Florida market without triggering electricity sales-related laws. If the contract had been deemed a sale of electricity versus equipment, then the group would have been deemed an electric utility, making the product untenable in the state. The final vote on whether the commission will approve the Petition will be on March 14, 2019.
The PSC referenced the original decision on the topic in Order No. PSC-2018-0251-DS-EQ, issued May 17, 2018, in Docket No. 20170273-EQ, In re: Petition of Sunrun Inc. for a declaratory statement concerning the leasing of solar equipment (Sunrun). It was this contract pushed by Sunrun that opened the floodgates for Sunnova, Vivint, and now Tesla to have their contracts approved for the solar market.
And while technically, the solar lease has always been legal in the state of Florida, the residential solar majors have avoided the market with their products until recently.
There are other ongoing Florida market dynamics as well.
The pushes by these various companies comes as the state’s distributed solar market has been growing significantly. A report by the PSC shows that 6,283 new customer-owned, distributed renewable energy systems were added to the grid in 2017. This is more than double the 2,982 systems that were connected in 2016. Total capacity deployed grew by 94%, from 33 MW to 64 MW. The 2018 report is pending.
There are also pushes by advocates to get the power purchase agreement legislation changed – making these solar lease agreements no longer needed. The goal of the legislation is to allow 2.5 MWac or less facilities to be allowed to sell to those located on their own property.
Additionally, while this small scale stuff is going on, we have the state’s largest electric utility – Florida Power & Light – aiming to deploy 1 GW of solar power per year through 2030.
And lastly, all of this is happening in a market with zero state-level solar incentives, while the broader market of residential solar power has significantly shifted away from residential leasing toward residents owning their projects either via a loan or cash payment.