Fla. PSC says it won’t regulate Tesla’s solar leases

The Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) issued a declaratory statement that affirms Tesla, LLC (Tesla) can offer residential solar equipment leases in Florida with fears that it will be regulated as if it’s a utility.

The declaration removes a cloud hanging over Tesla’s solar-power expansion in Florida, and those homeowners considering the energy-efficient upgrade. As a result, more homes could be sporting solar panels as the company kicks expansion plans into high gear.

PSC rules allow leasing of renewable energy equipment as long as it doesn’t involve selling electricity to customers, although they can benefit from net metering with their utilities. In its declaratory statement, the PSC found that:

  • Tesla’s residential solar equipment lease, through Tesla’s SolarLease, does not constitute a sale of electricity
  • Offering its solar equipment lease to Florida consumers will not cause Tesla to be a public utility under Florida law
  • The residential solar equipment lease will not subject Tesla or its customer lessees to PSC regulations

PSC rules have long allowed leasing of renewable energy equipment, as long as the lessor is not effectively selling electricity to the customer. Homeowners can purchase or lease equipment to generate electricity for personal use and also benefit from interconnection and net metering with their local utility.

In its decision, PSC commissioners agreed for the third time in the past year that a solar equipment lease is not a retail sale of electricity. In 2018, the PSC issued similar declaratory statements for Sunrun Inc., and Vivint Solar Developer Inc.

PSC approval isn’t required for a company to lease solar equipment to Florida residents.

“While today’s declaration is limited to the facts in Tesla’s petition, companies operating under the same facts can rely upon this declaration as well,” says PSC Chairman Art Graham.

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