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Snake Oil in the Solar Industry Pt 1.

solar power

How I am so ashamed of the industry that I am so proud of.

This is part one of a 3-part series. Part 2 will deal with installation and construction faux pas, and part 3 will go over our solar orphans.

Have you seen any or all of the following?

“Get solar at no Cost”

“2022 is the last year you can get solar!”

“See if you qualify.”

These are all statements made by unscrupulous contractors in the solar industry, shame on them.

The Solar industry is changing the way we generate and use electricity for our homes. Through advances in technology, burning fossil fuels for energy will become as obsolete as starting an open fire to make coffee. I am proud to be a part of this evo/revolution. However, there are many contractors in the industry that use dubious tactics in their marketing and sales activities… For shame.

Let’s look at the first statement – “Get solar at no cost.” This can only be on a leased system which would have no upfront costs, but can have enormous financial, logistical, and emotional costs if you ever try to get out of the lease. They place a lien on your house and if you try to sell, the new owner either needs to either take on the lease or the leasing company needs to release the lien.  This can add months to the closing. Real estate agents often cringe with they see a solar system on a possible listing because of these lease-related nightmares. In actuality, if the system is owned, it will increase the value of the property by 3 to 5%, and houses with solar sell faster.

The purchase of a residential solar system has a very significant upfront investment usually in the tens of thousands of dollars. However, it is the best home improvement investment you can make. It will not only garner the property value increase of a new kitchen or bath, it will all but eliminate your electric bill.

The second statement – “2022 is the last year you can get solar.” Again, not true! The Investment Tax Credit is set to go from a 26% federal tax credit to 22% in 2023, and then phase out in 2024. It was supposed to be 22% this year and then go away next year. The Build Back Better Act would have pushed the credit back up to its high of 30%. Even though residential solar is a great investment, these tax credits make it even more appealing. As political fortunes ebb and flow, so will these incentives. We have no way of knowing what will happen in the future. For shoddy salespeople to use this as a way to build urgency is disingenuous. Dovetailed with this statement is the following – “You only qualify if your bill is more than $100.00 per month.” Solar contractors will purport that this is a utility mandate. Again, not true. It just means that they do not want to bother with small systems, they are only interested in the whales. Really? Shame!

Last, my personal favorite – “Enter your information to see if you qualify.” This is used by marketers for geographical and demographical analysis. Further, your social media platforms will be inundated with specious ads.

Another Interesting Solar Industry Tactic

At the recent Southern Arizona Home Builders Association Home Show there was a solar contractor building urgency by telling potential customers that they need to get a solar system now before their area becomes saturated and Tucson Electric Power will not allow any more systems. This is a thing, but we have never had a system turned down because of it. Further, TEP has had their hand slapped for trying. Why can’t we just sit down and have an intelligent conversation about the realistic benefits of residential solar power? It’s shameful!

There are other methods contractors will use such as door-knocking, robo-calling, and inundating emails with misleading information.

Some further words about the utilities:

They attempt to block installations of systems at every turn. They tried to confine system sizes to 10 kW on any shared transformer. Also, much of the solar that they generate is sold to California. There is a certain amount of logic in their actions, every time a new system is commissioned, they lose a very valuable revenue stream. Even though they profess support for solar power, they fight its implementation wherever they can.

The advantages of solar power are numerous from environmental and financial standpoints. It is too bad that the advantages of solar must be corrupted by such shameful practices.