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Honda and SolarCity offer a home discount for going green

February 26, 2013|By Ronald D. White
  • American Honda and SolarCity are teaming up to offer Honda customers a discount on residential solar power installations.
American Honda and SolarCity are teaming up to offer Honda customers a discount… (Honda )

Buy a new Honda Fit EV or Accord Plug-In Hybrid and get a big discount on a solar power installation at your home.

Or don’t buy a new one; just prove you own a Honda generator or show up at a dealership with the paperwork for your rusting, 1970s-era first-generation Civic, and have a shot at getting the same deal. Seriously, says Honda.

American Honda Motor Co. and San Mateo-based SolarCity aren’t the first to team up to offer homeowners a discount on residential solar power systems.

In 2011, for example, Ford Motor Co. partnered with the nation’s second-largest solar manufacturer, SunPower Corp., to offer a deal on home solar systems to drivers of the electric version of the Ford Focus.

But this might be the first time that buying an electric car or plug-in hybrid isn’t necessary to get the deal.

“You are eligible if you have bought any of the Honda family of products,” said Ryan Harty, assistant manager of environmental business development for American Honda.

“It can be a generator you bought 10 years ago. If someone has a 1975 Civic with the CVCC engine, they can come in,” Harty added. “If you have liked us on Facebook, you can take advantage.”

Under the terms of the program, Honda and SolarCity will finance $65 million worth of rooftop solar for customers and perhaps also for some dealerships.

Experts say they like the synergies involved in such deals.

“There seems to be a natural fit for automakers and renewable energy companies companies to work together,” said Don Anair, research director of the clean vehicles program for the Union of Concerned Scientists.

“We are trying to tackle these challenges of oil consumption and global warming, and tackling global warming means tackling our fossil fuel use," Anair added. "This gives consumers more options to do their part to address both of these challenges.”

Paul Scott is a founding member of Plug In America and a longtime advocate for renewable energy. He’s also been a salesperson for the Nissan Leaf electric car.

"My experience selling [solar power] to my EV customers has been extremely positive,” Scott said. “When I sell a car to someone, I always look at their address on Google Maps to see if they have a solar-viable roof. If they do, I pitch them on getting solar.”

Customers who want to take advantage of the Honda/SolarCity offer must live in one of the 14 states served by SolarCity, which includes California. The other states are Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas and Washington.

SolarCity mostly offers leases and power purchase agreements to customers and then takes care of everything from design and permitting to monitoring and maintenance of the systems they install. They are also sell solar systems, but the Honda/SolarCity the discount does not apply to sold systems.

Consumers taking advantage of the program with Honda get a $400 discount on top of the $750 discount SolarCity offers regular customers.

Shouvik Banerjee, senior manager for new products and business development for SolarCity, said,  “This is really a great opportunity for us to build awareness. Honda is a global brand known for quality and dependability at an affordable price."

Banerjee added, "Being associated with them will help build awareness that customers can have solar power at home for less than the cost of what they pay their utility company.”

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