Honda Gives Free Solar Installations
PHOTO: Green workers install a residential grid-tied solar array on a hillside in Malibu, California, USA.

(Image credit: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

In a first for an automaker, American Honda Motor Co.will offer free home solar systems to customers, hoping the incentive will help its green reputation and make solar power more affordable.

Honda is partnering with SolarCity, based in San Mateo, Calif., to pay for the upfront costs to install a solar home system.

Honda has invested in a $65 million fund for solar projects to help Honda and Acura customers with the initial costs, though the customers will pay for the monthly solar electricity. Insurance, repairs and monitoring service are included, Honda said.

"Honda and Acura customers and dealerships will be able to install solar power with little or no upfront cost, depending on the customer's choice of plans. Customers will be given a choice to pre-pay for their solar electricity or pay a monthly payment that will be lower than the cost of their current utility bill, with insurance, repairs and monitoring service included," according to the company.

Customers in SolarCity's 14-state area are eligible: Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas and Washington. Interested customers can visit and get a free web or phone consultation.

The idea to help customers with solar system installation costs sprang from Honda hoping to assist electric car and plug-in vehicle owners, who sometimes have higher energy bills, while saving on gas, a spokesman for Honda said.

The total cost of installation and equipment is typically $10,000 to $20,000 for a residential solar system, the spokesman said.

Depending on one's location and whether they use a private or public power utility provider, switching to solar could save 10 to 80 percent of one's monthly utility bill, he said.

"We believe Honda and Acura customers are going to be very interested in going solar once they find out that they can install solar at their home with little or no upfront cost, can lower their monthly utility bill, and can make a positive contribution to protecting the environment," said Steven Center, vice president of the Environmental Business Development Office of American Honda Motor Co., Inc., in a statement.

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