DON’T BE DECEIVED BY SOLAR SCAMS
DAVID VONDRAN, CEO/GENERAL MANAGER
Conventional wisdom says that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Yet, every day, solar companies attempt to mislead our members with promises too good to be true. Often, these sales tactics target elderly and low-income members.
Collectively, the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas are one of the state’s largest net metering utilities, and we’re big fans of solar. However, we’re not fans of third-party solar or other companies using slick sales tactics to deceive our members.
HERE ARE SOME RED FLAGS TO LOOK FOR:
- No more electric bill. You’ll still receive a monthly electric bill for a service availability charge, which is a fixed fee that covers the basic monthly costs of providing poles, transformers, wires, meters, billing and other infrastructure items.
- A 30% tax incentive. The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) offers a 30% tax credit for rooftop solar. A tax credit is a reduction of the income tax you owe. It is not a rebate or discount. Also, many financing options require a lump sum payment, equivalent to the 30% tax credit, within the first year to maintain your monthly payment, or your payment will increase.
- Financing makes solar affordable. Check the math. If your average electric bill is $200 per month, and your solar payment will be $200 a month, you’re not saving money. There are charges on your monthly electric bill that aren’t impacted by the installation of solar. Financing solar often results in a lien being placed on your home. This lien could present an issue if you sell your home. When you finance a solar array, you are making the decision to prepay the array’s lifetime energy production upfront. Most often you have little or no guarantee that the system will perform as advertised.
- Solar panels add to the value of a home. The appraised value of your home may not increase with the installation of solar.
- Living off the grid. Solar energy is intermittent and does not produce energy when the sun goes down (or is not shining). You’ll still be connected to the grid to power your home when solar does not generate sufficient electricity. Your cooperative’s diverse mix of resources supplies reliable electricity when needed 24/7.
- No more power outages. Unless you have sufficient battery storage or a generator, you’ll still experience outages.
- Electricity costs will continue to rise. Over the past decade, the cost of electricity has risen by an average of 1% annually. Solar companies often exaggerate the future cost of electricity to increase by 3 to 6% annually. This makes for impressive saving projections that simply aren’t based on long-term, documented rates.
IF YOU’RE STILL INTERESTED IN SOLAR, PLEASE:
- Contact C & L Electric. As your trusted energy service provider, we can look at your account and provide you with factual data to help you make an informed decision before you sign a contract. Call us at 870-628-4221.
- Make your home more energy efficient. We can provide you with an energy audit to see if your home or business can save energy and lower your electric bill. Even if you opt for an intermittent energy resource, an energy efficient home will save you money.
- Do your research. Don’t be pressured by a solar sales company. Obtain multiple, written quotes, and ask for references. Let C & L Electric give you a competitive quote and provide an analysis of any quote before you sign a contract.
- Consider all costs. If you purchase (or lease) a solar array, you are responsible for the ongoing maintenance and repair costs, which, in addition to the purchase price, may include installation fees, interconnection costs, insurance, taxes and disposal costs for failed panels.
- Get it in writing. Always get any warranty or guarantee in writing. For example, some solar providers promise to remove and reinstall panels if your home needs a new roof. Warranty claims are only good if the company that made the offer is still in business when the issue occurs.
If you see a misleading solar ad or are approached by an aggressive door-to-door solar salesperson, don’t fall for their scams! File a consumer complaint with the Arkansas Attorney General’s office by calling 800-482-8982 or by emailing consumer@ArkansasAG.gov.