When you think of solar power; free clean and green energy springs to mind. But the environmentally warm and fuzzy nature of solar power can sometimes override due diligence on behalf of consumers and leave them severely out of pocket.
While the solar industry is made up of many people and companies truly passionate about the technology and dedicated to giving their customers the best possible experience; given the amount of money involved in buying a system some vultures do circle, looking for easy marks
A recent case in the USA highlights such an occurrence. 82-Year-Old Emma Yeager of San Diego, California spent more than USD$ 40,000 on a rooftop solar power system after responding to an ad in the paper promising a 100 percent government rebate. Not only did she not receive the rebate, she paid $40,000 for a $20,000 system. Additionally, the company involved forged her signature and tried to claim the rebate for themselves. Ms. Yeager is not alone – around 50 people were scammed by the company.
While this is a North American example, solar power shysters are not unique to the USA. Australia unfortunately has its share of them too – companies trading on consumer enthusiasm for renewable energy and lack of familiarity with the technology. Some make wild claims about performance and pepper agreements with fine print that can see consumers spending much more than they originally intended, or receiving far less than they expected.
After hearing many solar horror stories, Energy Matters, a national provider of off grid and grid connect systems, recently published a consumer’s guide to buying solar power systems in order to help people recognise and avoid the pitfalls. The guide contains details on a dozen different areas and tactics used by less than scrupulous players in the industry in the hope that by exposing the ruses it will not only help protect consumers, but make for a more level playing field for the many ethical solar companies operating in Australia.