June 05, 2018 | By Keith Martin in Washington, DC

Florida confirmed that contracts used by Sunrun to lease solar equipment to customers are not retail sales of electricity.

Only regulated utilities can make retail electricity sales in the state.

The Public Service Commission issued a “declaratory statement” on April 20 confirming that the form of solar lease that Sunrun proposed to use with customers is not a sale of electricity in substance and would not turn Sunrun into a public utility. Sunrun asked the commission for such a statement at the end of December before starting to use the contract in the state.

Florida law allows utility customers to lease equipment that they use to generate their own electricity.

The commission staff said the key in this case is that the customers will pay fixed rent for use of the equipment that does not vary with the electricity output.

Two Florida utilities called the commission staff’s attention to several contract features. The staff said Sunrun will not guarantee customers that the equipment will generate any particular amount of electricity. It analyzed whether Sunrun can still maintain the equipment for customers and also be responsible for monitoring the equipment, before deciding that Sunrun can. It said Sunrun is providing customers who are leasing equipment essentially with a separate maintenance plan.