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 $20K to $30K install, or at the very least, a $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 $150-a-month electric bill before installing solar would end up with a $60-a-month electric bill, an $80 or $90 monthly lease payment to Solar City, and thus "positive cash flow" of as much as $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]

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