The solar panel market is growing nationwide, stimulated by tax rebates and the Federal goal of installing 1,000 gigawatts of solar power by 2035. Not surprisingly, many want a bite of this lucrative endeavor – but not everyone is qualified to put solar panels on your roof.
Over summer, door-to-door solar salespeople descended on the greater Spokane area, selling solar panel installations to homeowners who, in many cases, had never even considered installing solar panels.
According to this Time article, Spokane and Coeur d’Alene were not the only areas flooded with alleged solar panel deals – it’s a nationwide trend where companies hire salespeople to work as independent contractors selling just one thing: the appointment for a potential solar installation that may or may not materialize.
As has been the case here in Spokane, Time uncovered that some door-to-door sales teams focus exclusively on low-income neighborhoods or elderly homeowners and lure them with false promises of never having to pay another power bill again.
Time quotes Pennsylvania-based consumer attorney Andrew Milz: “Solar is ground zero for consumer fraud right now. The industry is just littered with bad actors trying to put solar on as many roofs as possible as fast as possible.”
Door-to-door salespeople are solely motivated by high bonuses. Once they’ve reached their sales goals in one area, they move on to the next.
Their fraudulent promises range from free solar panels from the government to how solar panels will produce all the power you need, and you will get paid by the utility company. None of these claims are true. Sometimes the door-to-door solar sale screws pose as energy specialists, consultants, or even your utility – all your red flags should pop up if a consultant you didn’t make an appointment with suddenly shows up at your door. This is not how professional solar panel installers work!
According to the FTC, there are five times as many complaints about solar installations today as there were in 2018, and the fraudsters show no signs of slowing down.
A big part of the problem is that the solar panel industry is largely unregulated. Nevada is so far the only state that is making an attempt at regulating the sales side of the solar panel industry by passing a law that requires solar salespeople to either be employed by solar contractors or have the equivalent of an electrician’s license. This may seem harsh, but the aim of the law is to get rid of unqualified door-to-door salespeople and to protect consumers, as well as local businesses.
So, what’s a homeowner to do?
The best very best thing you can do to protect yourself against fraud and faulty installations is to pick a local solar panel company with a proven track record. Find a company like Northwest Renewables that has been around for decades and ask for references. Check the BBB rating.
A local solar installer has experience in your region. They know which materials hold up best and how homes are constructed in your area. They understand the microclimate of your neighborhood, and in many cases, they are super competitive on the final quote for your solar project.
Give us a call today for your free quote. And don’t forget: Solar shouldn’t be sold door-to-door.