Attorney General Tong Urges Caution in Reviewing Residential Solar Contracts – CT.gov

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06/21/2022

Attorney General Tong, DCP Commissioner Seagull Urge Caution in Reviewing Residential Solar Contracts

(Hartford, CT) – Attorney General William Tong and Department of Consumer Protection Commissioner Michelle Seagull at this time suggested householders concerned with residential solar panels to do cautious analysis and be cautious of deceptive advertising and high-pressure gross sales techniques by solar firms.

The Office of the Attorney General has obtained numerous complaints from shoppers and has energetic investigations into a number of solar firms concerning gross sales and advertising practices.

“Residential solar may help reduce electric bills and dependence on fossil fuels to power our electric grid, but consumers must proceed with caution. We have received numerous complaints regarding misleading marketing and high-pressure sales tactics by solar companies, and we have several active investigations. 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,” stated 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.”

“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,” stated DCP Commissioner Michelle H. Seagull. “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.”

Attorney General Tong and Commissioner Seagull warned shoppers to pay explicit consideration to: whether or not their home will get satisfactory solar publicity to justify the solar panel funding, whether or not their present roof will want alternative through the projected lifetime of the solar panels, how tax credit and refunds work, the impact solar panels could have on their home’s worth, and the way promoting their home can be affected if leasing solar panels. Consumers, and particularly seniors, additionally want to concentrate on potential high-pressure gross sales techniques to signal them up for costly long-term solar contracts.

What should I find out about rooftop solar?

Not all houses are equally fitted to solar. The measurement of the roof, orientation of the home, quantity of solar publicity, and the home’s energy calls for are all vital elements to contemplate. Solar firms could ask about eradicating bushes to extend solar publicity, which is an extra expense.

Some roofs require reinforcement or alternative earlier than solar set up. This is a separate price that solar firms sometimes is not going to pay for. And, if roof work is required through the helpful lifetime of the system, the house owner could should pay to take away the panels.

Compare critiques and costs. As with any main buy, you need to evaluate different shoppers’ critiques of solar firms and store round to make sure you’re getting a good deal.

Know who you might be doing enterprise with, and guarantee they’re correctly licensed in Connecticut. Many solar firms contract out their advertising and installations to 3rd events, so that you could be requested to signal a contract with a distinct firm than you thought.

Never signal any settlement with a solar firm below stress. The Attorney General’s Office and the Department of Consumer Protection have obtained complaints of high-pressure gross sales techniques by solar firms. Even if a salesman suggests you signal to “get the process going” or to “get more information,” don’t signal except you might be absolutely snug committing to the solar transaction. You ought to by no means really feel pressured to learn a contract rapidly, not to mention on the spot on a salesman’s pill or pc. And you might ask a visiting salesperson to go away your home at any time.

Under Connecticut regulation, you might cancel your contract any time earlier than midnight the third enterprise day after a transaction.
Here are some regularly requested questions on residential solar techniques:

What is a solar panel system?

A solar system consists of rooftop panels and an inverter which converts daylight into electrical energy. Installing solar panels may be an intensive course of: the system have to be professionally designed and put in, permitted and inspected by native officers, and authorized by the electrical utility. Roof reinforcement or alternative could also be required earlier than putting in a solar system, at further price to the house owner.

The identical shopper safety provisions apply to solar installers and salespeople as different home enchancment contractors and salespeople. For extra info, go to the Department of Consumer Protection’s web site.

Is residential solar cost-effective?

The advantages and prices differ. Consumers must be cautious of solar firms that promise that solar is smart for them earlier than fastidiously analyzing their scenario. Never decide primarily based on on-line calculations or estimates, which can be primarily based on information from different components of the nation.
Salespeople will emphasize that the price of electrical energy is excessive and will increase yearly. While electrical energy prices do enhance, shoppers ought to watch out for guarantees by solar firms {that a} solar system can assure a sure stage of financial savings. You can discover historic electrical prices to your utility right here.

Can I get a solar system without charge?

No. There is not any such factor as a no-cost solar system. While some solar installations could haven’t any up-front price, these choices require month-to-month funds and will not be sensible in the long term.

What about tax credit or different incentives?

There is a 26% federal tax credit score on the price of solar techniques put in by the tip of 2022. The credit score drops to 22% in 2023 and expires in 2024 except renewed by Congress. Only the purchaser of a solar system could take the tax credit score, not lessees or PPA clients, and purchasers will solely profit in the event that they owe federal earnings tax. While solar firms could promote low price and even “no cost” solar packages, these contain the solar firm, not the house owner, receiving any tax credit score.

Who pays for the solar system?


Purchase. Consumers can purchase solar panels utilizing money or acquire financing. The shopper owns the system and customarily is answerable for sustaining and repairing it. Only a purchaser can profit from any relevant tax credit.

Lease. Consumers can lease solar panels by paying a hard and fast month-to-month cost in trade for the usage of the solar panels for a set time period. Much like a leased automobile, the buyer can purchase the panels on the finish of the time period, give again the panels, or renew the lease. There is not any assure that the lease funds shall be lower than the electrical energy invoice would have been with out panels. And, if the system doesn’t generate sufficient to cowl the home’s full energy use, there may be nonetheless an electrical invoice.

Power buy settlement (PPA). Under a PPA, shoppers don’t personal or lease their techniques, however pay a month-to-month cost primarily based on how a lot electrical energy they use. The price per kWh is mostly lower than electrical charges, however will increase over time. As with a lease, there isn’t any assure that the month-to-month funds shall be lower than the electrical energy invoice would have been, and, if the system doesn’t generate sufficient to cowl the home’s full energy use, there may be nonetheless an electrical invoice.

Will I nonetheless have to pay for power from the electrical utility?

Homes with solar panels are nonetheless linked to the power grid. This means the house owner pays for power from the electrical utility except their system produces sufficient to cowl their energy wants. A residential solar system can ship energy again onto the grid and, relying on the association the house owner selects with the electrical utility, the utility will present a credit score if the home generates extra power than it makes use of. More details about credit for solar era is out there right here.

Does a solar system have an effect on my home’s worth?


Solar firms typically declare that solar panels enhance the worth of your home. There is presently not good information to assist this declare. Many home patrons don’t see solar panels as a profit. Also, householders with leased panels or PPAs could have problem promoting their home because the new purchaser and the corporate have to conform to switch the lease or PPA.

Connecticut shoppers who consider they’ve been harmed by a solar firm’s practices ought to file a criticism with the Office of the Attorney General right here: https://www.dir.ct.gov/ag/complaint/ or with the Department of Consumer Protection right here: https://portal.ct.gov/DCP/Complaint-Center/Consumers—Complaint-Center.

Twitter: @AGWilliamTong
Facebook: CT Attorney General

Media Contact:

Elizabeth Benton
elizabeth.benton@ct.gov

Consumer Inquiries:

860-808-5318
lawyer.basic@ct.gov

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