Summer is here, temperatures are rising and so are energy costs associated with running our air conditioners day and night. Higher energy bills might have you thinking about installing a few solar panels on your roof. But the Connecticut Attorney General and the Commissioner of the Department of Consumer Protection are issuing a word of warning to potential solar customers: do your research.
AG William Tong and DCP Commissioner Michelle Seagull issued the warning on Tuesday, telling potential residential solar customers to be wary of “misleading marketing and high-pressure sales tactics” by solar companies. The Attorney General’s office says they have several open investigations into multiple solar companies following customer complaints.
“Solar power can be an attractive option for people looking to reduce their utility costs and carbon footprint, but we are hearing from a number of consumers that the deal they were offered proved to be too good to be true,” said Seagull in a statement. “Consumers should be cautious when entering into a solar contract – do extensive research, compare costs, understand if your home is suitable for rooftop solar, and don’t allow yourself to fall victim to high-pressure sales tactics.”
Among several factors the AG’s office and DCP say you should consider: figuring out if your roof even gets enough sun exposure to make solar panels effective. Solar companies may ask you to remove trees to increase exposure which would be an additional cost. They also warn that some roofs may need to be reinforced or replaced to support the panels and that if work needs to be done beneath the panels in the future, that would likely also come at additional costs.
The primary takeaway from the warning, though, is to take your time. They advise not to sign any contracts under pressure, even if the salesperson is claiming that it would “get the process going” or allow you to receive additional information. “You should never feel pressured to read a contract quickly, let alone on the spot on a salesperson’s tablet or computer,” reads the warning. “And you may ask a visiting salesperson to leave your home at any time.”
You should also understand what tax credits are available and under what circumstances, and understand what your electric savings might be, if any.
“Solar power purchase agreements or lease agreements are often long-term, complex, and can be expensive. Any electric bill savings varies per household depending on many factors,” said Attorney General William Tong. “While electric rates are high and we are all looking for ways to save money, consumers should never feel pressured into a solar contract or any other major home project.”
If you have had a negative experience with a solar company, you can file a complaint with the AG’s office or the DCP.