Solar is a great option to have in most areas of sunny San Diego!
But, there are different types of Solar programs out there and it can be a little confusing sifting through all the information.
DISCLAIMER: I am not a Solar expert nor am I associated with any solar companies, so please do your own due diligence. This is from work experience as a Real Estate Agent in San Diego, CA. Speak with a Solar Expert for up-to-date information.
*kWh = Kilowatt
Lease (a.k.a. Power Purchase Agreement/PPA): This option is when a solar company installs panels on your home, and you have them on your home for 10-20+ years. You’ll never own them, but after an X amount of years, you may have the option to buy them out-right. You pay the solar company a certain $ amount every month. However, if you enter a variable-style contract, they are allowed to increase the rate of kWh by a certain % every year. This can eventually add-up and soon you may pay more, or equal, to what SDG&E may charge you. But, there may be more of a fixed-style contract which locks in the rate of kWh for an X amount of years (may not be indefinite). The solar leases can usually be easily transferred to other owners if you want to sell your home. You may also have the option to buy the solar panels outright after 4-5 years.
Lease-to-Own/Finance: Essentially, you obtain a loan and then pay for panels, plus % interest, for X amount of years. You can qualify for the State Tax Benefits, you may have a chance of making a little bit of money if you produce more than you use, and you have the option of battery-storage. Eventually, you will own them and it may not take long to make the money back that you have invested (plus interest). For re-sale, usually the loan will have to be paid off at time of sale or may be transferred to buyers (if contract allows and/or buyer(s) agree to transfer).
Buy Outright: You own them, but you do have to pay a high amount of money upfront. Depending on the size of house, a solar system can cost a lot of money initially. Also, the price goes up if you opt for a battery storage unit. Personally, I think this is the best option for most people if the homeowners can afford it. There are no contracts to worry about, you may qualify for the California Tax Incentive (if still valid), and you may be able to make a little bit of money at the end of the year if you’ve created more power than you have used. Or, if you have a battery storage unit, no need to worry about the food in the fridge when the power goes out. For resale purposes, this is the easiest to deal with as there are no leases to transfer.
PACE/HERO program: This is a program where the government gives you a loan to add energy-efficient updates to your home, which can be used towards Solar Panels. The downside is that it puts a Lien against your property. This can be a bummer for resell purposes because the PACE program takes 1st priority if the property goes into foreclosure or the new homeowner files bankruptcy–Home Loan Companies do not like being 2nd place. When homeowners do use this program, the seller often offers to pay off the remaining balance of the PACE loan when they decide to sell their home.
Here are some links that explain Solar, PACE & other CA solar initiatives: