Avoiding Solar Energy Scams: An Insider’s Guide

Solar_EnergyWhen it comes to getting a great deal on a solar system, it’s like any other major home investment: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

A solar system can help you save money on utility bills, and help the skies stay blue at the same time. Unfortunately some unscrupulous companies are jumping into the solar energy market to make a quick buck.

Here are some strategies you can use to avoid scams and make sure your solar system performs for years to come.

Ask for licenses, certifications and references: Solid companies will show you their credentials for solar energy installation as well as licenses for doing electrical work and other skilled trades. They will gladly give you their Registrar of Contractors number (ROC number) and will encourage you to check them out with the Better Business Bureau.

Understand your contract: Make sure to read the contract in its entirety.  If you have questions a quality contractor will always take the time to address your concerns.

Understand the rates: A leasing company may offer low introductory  rates but then the rates may go up each year. Know what your long-term cost will be. If there is an escalator on your lease agreement, find out how much your lease payment will increase and when. Legitimate companies will always spell the lease details out for you in writing.

Don’t fall for high pressure: A reputable company will work with you to see if your home is right for solar energy and design a custom system for your house. The sun will come out tomorrow. So you can sleep on it to make sure you’re doing what’s best for you.

Beware of unsubstantiated claims: Claims that your utility bills will increase
7-14% every year for the foreseeable future or that your average utility bill could be 10 to 15 times higher in 20 years.  In the last 10 years, Arizona utility customers averaged a less than 3% annual increase to their utility costs.

Know the rules about solar tax credits. Taxpayers are eligible for a federal tax credit of 30% of the cost and installation of the power generating components.  As well as a 10% Arizona State tax credit up to $1000 maximum. Have your tax preparer verify your tax credit eligibility and calculate the correct figures before you enter into a purchase agreement with the solar company.

Work with a local, reputable company: Harmon is a second generation, family-run company that has been helping to power Arizonan’s homes and businesses since1975. The company has a long history of community support and will service what they sell.