Maintenance With a Power Purchase Agreement
If you do choose a PPA, a power purchase agreement, how do you maintain it? Who maintains it? How does that work? Does it cost you anything? Let me just answer those for you.
The 3 Pillars
There are three pillars that support getting solar on your home with a power purchase agreement.
#1 is you finance it.
#2 is you get it installed.
#3 is maintenance.
We won’t be talking about the first two steps. We’re only going to focus on what comes after those in step three, which is maintenance.
You don’t have to worry about it at all when you get a power purchase agreement.
If you go with somebody who finances it like Sunnova, Sunrun, Vivint, or any of the others, they’re pretty much the financier.
Then there are the installers. They get it on your roof, and then the financiers are the ones that are in charge of making sure you get what is promised. That’s the contract or the agreement that you’ve signed; it’s with them.
I’m going to use Sunnova in this example.
The key thing to understand with a power purchase agreement when it comes to maintenance is a power purchase agreement is you’re just purchasing power, nothing else.
You don't own the solar panels, remember?
You don’t own the panels. Remember that? If you don’t know what I’m talking about, I’d stop and read our blog on power purchase agreements and how they work and why they might be more beneficial to you rather than owning it or getting a loan or cash. It may not always be that way, but that might be the case for some. Come back to this and learn about maintaining it once you understand how Power Purchase Agreements work.
The reason why you don’t maintain it or why you’re not responsible for it is because you don’t own it. It’s just like that little meter on the side of your home that you get from like SDG&E or PG&E or whoever your utility provider is that provides you with your current power.
I have a big assumption here that if you’re reading this, you don’t have solar on your roof. That means you have a utility provider that’s providing you with your power. They’re getting energy and giving it to you.
How do they even measure how much you use?
They do so by the meter on the side of your home. It measures forwards and backward.
I’m going to use SDG&E as an example. If you have SDG&E, San Diego Gas & Electric, then they’re looking at your meter digitally at this point, and they measure it. Then they send you a bill for how many kilowatt-hours you use.
Do you go outside and try to maintain that meter on the side of your home? Are you worried about maintaining that meter? No. That’s because you’re purchasing power from them. You’re not buying the little meter on the side of your home, right? That’s why there’s no maintenance on a power purchase agreement.
Let’s talk about why and how that works, though.
Sunnova vs. Sunrun
If I were you, I’d be thinking, “Well, he’s going to talk about Sunnova, but I’ve also heard of SunRun. Do they have the same stuff in their contract?” The answer is pretty much.
There are some nuances and differences, pros and cons, but not that many.
Every agreement can be customized, but for the most part, when you get a PPA, it is fully warranted.
All your parts, labor, and everything are fully warranted. When they install it, it’s fully covered, and they have a warranty on your roof for a certain amount of time to cover any leaks or anything if something were to happen.
God forbid something happened to your roof, and it leaked from the installation, but they have insurance on it, so everything’s covered.
Let’s go back to that meter on the side of your home.
You don't have to pay for maintenance!
If something happened and SDG&E broke something on your meter or your home, they would have to pay for it, right? You fully expect them to take care of that. It’s the same thing with Sunnova or Sunrun.
They cover that and have all these warranties on it, and they make sure everything’s okay. So, do you have to do anything then? No!
They’re going to maintain it. Maintenance right now on panels is deficient. So, even if you owned it or financed it, it would be low maintenance. But it certainly needs to be checked at least annually. Keep in mind; these panels last at least twenty-five years if they’re appropriately maintained.
There’s also something called monitoring. Monitoring is not maintaining the actual structure or cleanliness, like keeping the panels cleaned off and all that stuff. Monitoring is making sure it’s producing power.
Things can happen. There may be an error in the system or an issue with the panel. Or maybe a windstorm comes by, and a panel gets loose.
That’s called maintenance, but what you’re also doing is monitoring. You want to make sure you are getting the energy that was promised.
Power Purchase Agreement
With a power purchase agreement, you’re purchasing a certain amount of power. Usually, you have a power purchase agreement to replace 100% of what you typically use in a year. Assuming that’s what you have designed on your home, then monitoring it is merely saying, “Hey, is it still producing that amount? If not, I’m worried because then I have to pay San Diego Gas & Electric for the remaining part of the power that I didn’t get from my system.”
Now, you’d have to pay a higher rate, almost double many of the time.
Monitoring is securing the fact that you don’t have to pay San Diego Gas & Electric because you’ve designed your system not to have to pay them. That’s why the benefits of a power purchase agreement are you don’t have to maintain it. You don’t have to monitor it because they take care of that with your power purchase agreement.
Here’s a video you can watch on Power Purchase Agreements and why it’s generally the best option.
No Maintenance or Monitoring Required
Having a PPA with Sunnova means you do not have to maintain or monitor it, and the same goes for Sunrun. That’s the same with anybody who offers a PPA. They don’t want you even touching it.
In fact, you can void the warranties and insurance on those things because you touched it. You just report it if something needs to be fixed or if you think there’s a problem, just as you would with your utility company because that’s your new utility company. They come and fix it. That’s all free. It doesn’t cost you a dime to do any of that with a power purchase agreement. Pretty cool, right?
There are NO costs for repairs.
There are no costs for repairs or for monitoring it. They watch it for you. They have these little microchips in them that simply read the wattage and what’s moving in and out of it and if it genuinely is producing power.
The power purchase agreements with the Sunnova and Sunrun, they guarantee a certain amount. At least upwards of 80%-95%, something like that. Over time, they’re making sure that you can feel comfortable that it’s always going to produce what’s promised. And if it doesn’t, then they will give you credit toward your next ones. You’ll always be covered.
Hopefully, this helps you understand that’s also the optimal way to go. If you’re someone who doesn’t want to get on the roof or deal with hiring someone to do the work for you to maintain and monitor your system, a power purchase agreement is the best option for you.