In recent years there has been a great demand by consumers for more renewable energy sources, such as solar energy. Because of this demand, there has been a rise in the number of solar companies. In the last ten years, the solar industry has been expanding exponentially. In fact, Solar has grown at such a drastic amount that the compound rate is 60% a year. Think in terms of money: if you had invested $100.00 at a compound rate of 60% annually, after ten years, your initial investment would now be $10,995.12. Now that is a crazy high increase! But, now back to solar. Because of such a demand by consumers, solar companies are popping up all over the place—what I refer to as the renewable energy gold rush. New companies are forming to get a piece of the action. However, with growth in an industry, comes growth of fraud in the industry.
There are many reputable solar companies out there. And, there are a lot of companies coming and going—scamming trusting consumers along the way. It is important to research the solar companies you are thinking about doing business with. Look at reviews on Yelp, Google, and other credible sources and see what real customers have to say. Ask others who have solar panels who they have used and what their experience was. Thorough research will save a lot of heartache and headaches down the road. Some things to look out for are:
- Is it going to be financed, paid in cash, or leased? If you are not paying cash, make sure you understand all elements of the financing or lease. Look to see how it affects the sale of your home, should you want to sell before the financial commitment has completed. Know what you are getting into, because most terms are over ten years, and some are over twenty!
- Are you going to save money? Many solar companies push their products by stating that you will save so much money by switching to solar. However, often this is not the case. In fact, many people are paying more monthly for solar energy than they ever did through their electric company. Understand, before you commit, what your current electric bills are and what you will pay for everything monthly after a solar install.
- Have all terms in writing and know what you are signing. During the process of purchasing a solar system, a lot of promises are made. If a promise is made, make sure it is in writing. If it is not in writing, it will be denied that the promise was ever made. Also, when signing the contract, read what you are signing. I know we all hate reading contracts, but it is important to read these contracts because you will be bound by the terms for many years to come.
- If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t! If you are going through the process and something does not feel right, take a step back and reevaluate. Make sure that everything is on the up-and-up, because this is a long-term commitment.
New Mexico has great consumer protection laws; one such law is the Unfair Practices Act (UPA). The UPA protects consumers from fraudulent or unfair dealings. The UPA also has a provision for attorney’s fees and costs of litigation, which make filing a lawsuit possible in low damages cases. Most importantly, the UPA is a great tool to right the wrong when you have been subject to unfair practices by a solar company. Whether it was deceptive practices or fraudulent activity, we can help get you compensation under the UPA.
If you have been a victim of fraud or deceptive practices by a solar company, contact Bradley Law. We will aggressively pursue your case to help you get fair compensation. Call today.
** An add-on to this story. The issues of consumer fraud in the solar arena have been so bad that PNM has called for new legislation to protect consumers. See the article here.