Idaho AG Says to Beware of Solar Companies’ Deceptive Sales Tactics | Idaho

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BOISE — Attorney General Lawrence Wasden is advising Idahoans to do their homework before buying residential rooftop solar systems. The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division continues to receive reports and complaints from the public regarding deceptive sales tactics by some solar companies through door-to-door sales and social media advertising.

“Installing solar equipment in your home can be a big investment,” Wasden said. “There are some very reputable solar companies doing business here in Idaho, but some installers aren’t always 100% honest in their representations to customers. My goal is to shed some light on the matter to ensure Idahoans are prepared and protected in the marketplace.

Consumers report misrepresentations that:

  • Installers work for or partner with the State of Idaho or the customer’s utility company. Neither an electric utility company nor the State of Idaho partners with companies that sell residential solar systems. Instead, electric utility companies process consumer requests to connect a solar system to the power grid.
  • Consumers will receive government rebates or payments for installing solar systems. Only certain consumers are eligible for tax credits and should discuss their eligibility with their financial or tax advisor.
  • Customers with solar equipment will never pay an electricity bill again. Even with a residential solar system, consumers are connected to the electrical grid and still receive bills from their electric utility for connection fees and electrical service beyond what a solar system generates.
  • Idaho is experiencing an energy shortage. The state has ample access to a variety of energy resources.
  • Solar customers will be “locked in” to current rates set by the Idaho Public Utilities Commission. Idaho’s PUC does not set solar power prices.
  • During a power outage, consumers with rooftop solar panels will still have electricity. Solar panels only generate electricity during a power outage if a solar battery is installed.

When deciding to purchase a home solar system, consumers should:

  • Compare reviews online and check with the Better Business Bureau for any complaints. For businesses operating in multiple states, focus on local, relevant, and recent customer reviews.
  • Check qualifications and look for established companies to ensure your solar equipment warranties will be honored. If an installer goes out of business, consumers may have no one to answer questions or resolve warranty issues.
  • Make sure your installer is licensed, bonded, and insured and has provided you with the information required by law under the Idaho Residential Energy Systems Disclosure Act.
  • Plan your system with your installer to decide on the appropriate size and equipment, and find out if your electric utility offers information regarding these considerations.
  • Ask for references from past clients.
  • Shop around and get multiple quotes just like you would for any major purchase to ensure you get the best deal to meet your needs.
  • Understand the interconnection process required by your electric utility by contacting your electric utility’s customer generation department. Consumers have expressed concerns regarding installers’ failure to follow application, inspection, and connection requirements to connect solar systems to the power grid.
  • Research the benefits and potential problems of a rooftop solar system by understanding your electricity consumption habits, the size of the solar system needed to meet your electrical needs, and the financial commitment of a solar system. Some consumers complain that they experience no significant reduction in their electricity bills after installing their systems.
  • Know how to get installer help after installation.
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