From television and radio commercials to postcards in our mailboxes and sales reps knocking on our doors, the marketing of solar power is prominent across our area.
Most sales pitches promise to save you thousands of dollars on your power bill if you install solar panels on your property. What often gets missed in the messaging is the huge investment and long-term commitment that is required with most solar installation contracts.
Unfortunately, we’ve heard from a number of members over the past few years who were victimized by solar companies using unethical sales tactics. They were promised easy financing and a rooftop system that would nearly eliminate their electricity bill. What they got was tens of thousands of dollars of debt and a minimal reduction in their bill, nowhere near the return on their investment they thought was coming when they signed the contract.
Last summer, the South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs announced new regulations on the marketing and sale of renewable energy. Solar companies are now required to meet the following guidelines to help consumers make informed decisions and prevent predatory sales tactics:
- Consumers aged 70 or older must be allowed to review contracts for at least three days prior to signing.
- All consumers may cancel a contract without fees or penalty within 10 days of signing it.
- Prospective clients must be provided an educational brochure that details solar basics, consumer rights, questions to ask the seller, and red flags to watch for.
- Before signing a contract, consumers must be provided a disclosure statement that clearly lays out the specifications and costs of the solar installation.
- When a building permit is denied or a consumer’s homeowners association does not approve the install, a consumer has seven days to cancel the contract or amend it.
- Consumers must be given a copy of the contract that contains a description of all fees, install dates, details on any savings described, warranty information, and more details required by the law.
As your trusted energy advisor, we’re glad that our members are receiving clearer and more dependable information about solar arrays.
The truth is, rooftop solar isn’t for everyone, no matter who is making the sale. Sometimes there isn’t enough exposure from the sun or space on the roof. Sometimes the actual energy reduction potential doesn’t justify the investment in a solar system. State and federal tax credits offered for solar installations may not apply in all situations as only consumers with a sufficient tax liability are eligible.
That’s why we encourage you to contact us to speak to York Electric’s resident solar advisor Brent Clinton at (803) 628-5554. We can provide data about your energy use and help you calculate whether solar is right for you. If you do decide to install solar at your home, we’ll also guide you and your solar contractor through our net metering connection process.
We want to help you make the best decision for your home, now and in the future.