But politicians, businesses, and private citizens throughout California have come together to develop meaningful solutions to these challenges.
And as a result, the state currently boasts more solar energy capacity than all the other 49 states combined.
However, this success sometimes comes at a cost.
Let’s take a look.
The Dark Side of the California Solar Industry
The nonprofit Campaign for Accountability (CFA) is urging California’s Attorney General, Kamala Harris, to conduct an in-depth investigation into the state’s solar energy sector. According to CFA, many residential contractors use a host of dishonest or predatory tactics to trick homeowners into going solar.
One popular example is the “forced arbitration clauses” that some of the big-name installers include in their contracts. Under this provision, customers are not allowed to take installers to court – even when said installers have broken the law.
We’ve covered other shady practices in the past as well, including solar scams, robo-calls, and false credentials.
Altogether, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has received over 125 consumer complaints in the past 4 years.
That may not seem like much – especially in a state with 40 million people. But as the Campaign for Accountability points out, not everyone who can complain actually does. So the true number of dissatisfied customers is probably much higher.
But regardless of the number, we hope that the Attorney General takes this issue seriously. Although California is a pioneer in solar, the industry is still in its early stages. And each complaint diminishes the good work that reputable installers do on a daily basis.
According to reporter, Leon Kaye,
“Tales of hyper-aggressive sales tactics, misrepresentations of the services provided, and preying on low-income and elderly consumers all risk leaving a black eye on an industry that has long promised to free citizens from dependence on fossil fuels while lowering their monthly utility bills.”
Given that solar represents about 1% of America’s electricity mix, there is plenty of room for growth – even in a market as saturated and competitive as California’s solar industry is. And as such, there is never any reason to mislead potential customers.
Sunshine sells itself.
But unless state regulators crack down on unscrupulous marketing tactics, the complaints probably won’t stop anytime soon.
However, you can take steps to protect yourself from predatory solar contractors. We’ve published several resources to help you find reputable PV installers (even if you don’t decide to use our services). You can check out some of those articles down below: