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.

© 2019 Florida Realtors®

Spring selling season comes early, groundhog shadow or not

house-with-garage_4460x4460Demand for housing is picking up and housing analysts are pointing to lower mortgage rates as the main reason. The spring buying season may be coming early whether the groundhog saw his shadow or not.

In Coppell, Texas, a suburb of Dallas, real estate pros reported a traffic jam of buyers lined up on the front stairway to get into an open house.

“It kind of caught us a little bit off-guard,” says Laura Barnett, a real estate professional with RE/MAX DFW Associates in the Dallas area, to CNBC, about the sudden uptick in buyer demand. “We actually did get a surge of buyers coming in. And, matter of fact, I worked with two this weekend, one of which is under contract; another is about to be.”

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage increased for most of 2018 and neared 5 percent, prompting home sales to decrease. However, rates have been moderating in recent weeks and hit a 10-month low today of 4.41 percent. As a result, potential home shoppers are taking advantage.

Mixed with the lower rates, home prices are slowing too. Home prices in December were up 4.7 percent annually, the smallest gain in more than six years, according to CoreLogic, a real estate data firm.

“When you see those numbers coming down, you want to go, ‘OK, this is the time to buy,'” says Celena Vittorio, a home shopper in the Dallas area. “You certainly don’t want to buy at the top of the market.”

Also in buyers’ favor recently: The share of homes with price reductions increased in 39 of the 50 largest markets, an analysis from realtor.com found. The most expensive markets saw the largest price cuts.

The cities with some of the largest reductions in list prices were in Las Vegas (up 16 percent); San Jose, Calif. (up 9 percent); Seattle (up 8 percent); Orlando, Fla. (up 6 percent); and Phoenix (up 5 percent).

Real estate pros are responding to the increase in traffic by trying to get the homes that were going to wait to list until the spring ready to go to the market earlier.

“We don’t want to miss that opportunity, so we’re trying to get busy with our listings and start getting our listings on the market early,” Barnett told CNBC.