Solar Energy Sales Practices Under Scrutiny

In an era focused on sustainable energy solutions, the federal government has intensified its efforts to encourage solar power adoption. It is done through legislative support such as the Community Solar Consumers Choice Act of 2023 and valuable tax credits for homeowners installing rooftop solar panels. These incentives have sparked a surge in solar companies’ activities, particularly in states like Kentucky and Illinois. It aims to capitalise on this growing market. However, this rush has also led to a rise in misleading sales tactics by some companies in the industry.

Clarifications from Local Power Companies

Amidst the increasing number of solar installations, misunderstandings have occurred, prompting local power companies to step in. Paducah Power System and Egyptian Electric Cooperative Association, based in Murphysboro, Illinois, have both issued public statements denying any partnerships with solar power providers. These companies have made it clear that their involvement does not extend to endorsing any solar sales activities, especially those conducted door-to-door.

  • Brad Austin, the Engineering and Operations Manager at Egyptian Electric, has pointed out the frequent misrepresentations made by solar sales personnel, including false promises of completely eliminating electric bills. Austin emphasizes, “The only way to entirely eliminate a utility bill is by disconnecting from the grid and using a fully self-sufficient solar system with batteries.

Experiences of Local Residents

Residents have had varied interactions with solar sales representatives, ranging from cautious interest to outright deception. Paula Coleman, a paralegal and investigator, encountered a salesperson from Genesis Power Solutions who assured her that transitioning to solar could eliminate her electric bill. Fortunately, her expertise allowed her to recognize the potential scam, leading her to decline the offer promptly.

Legal repercussions are also a significant concern, as evidenced by attorney Wes Sullenger‘s ongoing legal battle against a solar provider that failed to activate installed panels yet continued billing the client. Sullenger warns, “Homeowners should be particularly wary of offers that seem overly beneficial without clear documentation. Always seek legal or professional advice when entering such agreements.

Options for Financing Solar Panels

Michelle Knox, owner of Wind Solar USA, outlines several financial arrangements available to consumers opting for solar panel installations:

  • Lease Agreement: Similar to leasing a car, the solar company retains ownership of the panels, and the consumer pays a usage fee.
  • Power-Purchase Agreement: Consumers pay a set price for the electricity generated, but the panels are owned by the solar company.
  • Cash Purchase: Consumers can buy the panels outright or through bank financing. This option qualifies for federal and state incentives and is generally the most economically advantageous in the long run.

Knox strongly advocates for cash purchases, suggesting that local bank financing can provide better interest rates and more favourable terms. As compared to other financing options. She emphasises, “Keeping financial arrangements local helps support the community’s economy and provides more transparency in the dealings.

Guidance for Potential Solar Adopters

As interest in solar energy grows, consumers are advised to thoroughly investigate their options and understand the implications of their choices:

  • Confirm the solar provider’s credentials and legal standing.
  • Engage with local utilities to discuss potential impacts on electricity bills.
  • Check the Better Business Bureau and state attorney general’s office for any registered complaints against the company.
  • Obtain multiple quotes to ensure competitive pricing.

While no complaints have been registered against Genesis Power Solutions. The absence of formal grievances should not be mistaken for a clean record. Potential customers should remain diligent and sceptical of overly favourable promises.

Leave a Comment