Company allows customers to lease solar panels

- Mark DePlasco may not be a typical power company customer. He says he can't wait to get his power bill every month.

DePlasco has been using the sun to power his home for the past five months. 

"I don’t have an electric bill," he said. "Every month, we get this bill from TECO and my wife and I look at each other and say, 'OK, how much do we think it's going to be?' We only have the service charge."

DePlasco uses solar panels from Sunrun, a company that allows customers to lease solar equipment over 25 years.

Before April, Florida households couldn't lease solar panel systems but a vote from the Florida Public Service Commission removed that regulation.

“It’s a long-term relationship with the customer that helps them to go solar in a cost-efficient way,” explained Sunrun's southeastern director of public policy, Tyson Grinstead.

The panels work by absorbing the power from the sun and converting to usable energy. How much a customer saves every month depends on their household's energy consumption.

“It's very much a customer-by-customer approach," said Grinstead. "We look at a person’s historical power bill and try to come up with a system and a solution that works best for them.”

DePlasco bought his panels outright for about $26,000 but his electric bill, once averaging $160 a month, is now a $17 service fee.

“We’re generating more electricity than we’re using, so TECO takes that, uses that, and gives us a credit," he said.

Now the DePlascos are in the black on energy consumption - and green for the environment. 

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