As the push for solar increases, so do the scams, sketchy sales tactics

By Lily Leung, The Orange County Register

Solar scams are on the rise, as some companies hit homeowners with increasingly aggressive sales and marketing tactics, and under-deliver on promises of low installation cost and big electricity savings. Recent stories from around the state include a solar installer climbing atop a home without permission to take roof measurements and contractors pulling city building permits even before customers sign contracts, state officials say.

This year, state officials have logged roughly 200 complaints arising from solar projects throughout California, a fourfold increase from the same period five years ago, according to the Contractors State License Board, which regulates contractors and the construction industry in California. Close to 800 such complaints have been filed with the agency since 2010. The California Public Utilities Commission, which regulates utility companies, also has noticed a recent uptick in complaints about solar scams and telemarketing misrepresentations, and it is looking at ways to address the problem.

Why the recent increase? “Because of the money available for rebates and the push to go green,” said David Fogt, enforcement chief at the licensing board. “It’s bringing into the marketplace unscrupulous individuals.” Such government incentive programs have provided fertile ground for novice solar equipment and installation companies. As the industry has grown, so have consumer complaints.

Read full article in the Orange County Register

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