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Scams, Fraud Flourish in Solar Still
Townhall.com ^ | March 30, 2014 | Marita Noon

Posted on 03/30/2014 1:10:10 PM PDT by Kaslin

Consumers considering installing solar panels on their rooftops have far more to think through than the initial decision to “go solar.”

They may search for the best price, only to discover, as customers in central Florida did, that after paying $20,000-40,000 for their systems, they are stuck with installations that may be unusable or unsafe. BlueChip Energy—which also operated as Advanced Solar Photonics (ASP) and SunHouse Solar—sold its systems at environmental festivals and home shows. Buyers thought they were getting a good deal and doing the right thing for the environment. Instead, they were duped.

A year ago, it was revealed that BlueChip Energy’s solar panels had counterfeit UL labels—this means that the panels may not comply with standard safety requirements established by the independent global certification company Underwriters Laboratory. The Orlando Sentinel reports: “UL testing assures that a product won't catch fire, will conduct electricity properly and can withstand weather. Without such testing, no one is certain if the solar panels may fail.” Additionally, it states: “Without the safety testing, they shouldn't be connected to the electric grid”—which leaves customers nervous about possible risks such as overheating. Other reports claim that BlueChip inflated the efficiency rates of its photovoltaic panels, which do not meet “65 percent of the company’s published performance ratings.”

In July 2013, BlueChip’s assets were sold off at pennies on the dollar and customers were left with rooftop solar packages that now have no warranty.

With the shakeout in the solar photovoltaic industry, bankruptcy is a key concern for buyers. No company equals no warranty.

Two of China’s biggest panel makers have failed. On March 20, 2013, Suntech, one of the world’s biggest solar panel manufacturers, filed bankruptcy. Earlier this month Shanghai Chaori Solar became China's first domestic corporate bond default. The Wall Street Journal reports that another, Baoding Tainwei, has reported a second year of losses and investors are waiting to “see if officials will let it fail.”

Regarding Suntech’s bankruptcy, an industry report says the following about the warranties: “While Suntech has said that it was committed to maintaining the warranty obligations on its products following the bankruptcy, we are unsure if customers will be willing to take a risk considering the firm’s faltering financials.”

Last month, it was reported that solar panels can be “dangerous in an emergency.” Firefighters have been forced to stop fighting a fire due to electrocution concerns. The report quotes Northampton, MA, Fire Chief Brian Duggan as saying electrocution is not their only concern: “cutting through the roof for ventilation would also take a lot longer.” Springfield fire commissioner Joe Conant says: “nothing will stop them if there’s a life to be saved, but if it’s simply to save the structure, solar panels may keep them from going on the roof.

A Fox News story on the risk solar panels pose to fire-fighters states: “Two recent fires involving structures decked with solar panels have triggered complaints from fire chiefs and calls for new codes and regulations that reflect the dangers posed by the clean-energy devices. A two-alarm fire last week at a home in Piedmont, Calif., prompted Piedmont Fire Chief Warren McLaren to say the technology ‘absolutely’ made it harder on firefighters. Weeks earlier, in Delanco, NJ, more than 7,000 solar panels on the roof of a massive 300,000-square foot warehouse factored into Delanco Fire Chief Ron Holt’s refusal to send his firefighters onto the roof of a Dietz & Watson facility.”

Then, of course, there are new concerns about scam artists like the one in North Carolina who collected “money from victims under false pretense that he would buy and install solar panels in their residences.”

As if all of that wasn’t enough, a new potentially fraudulent scheme has just been exposed.

A recent report from the Arizona Republic, points to complaints the Arizona Corporation Commission—the state’s top utility regulator—is getting from Tucson customers of SolarCity Corporation. They claim: “the solar leasing company is misleading them regarding the state rules for hooking up a solar array.”

In essence, customers in Tucson are being told one thing by their utility, Tucson Electric Power (TEP), but something else by a private solar power company, SolarCity—the nation’s second largest solar electrical contractor. This has drawn the ire of Bob Stump, Chairman of the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC). “This is an issue of consumer protection and solar installer transparency,” Stump told the Arizona Republic.

Stump made his concerns clear in a March 12 letter to Lyndon Rive, SolarCity’s Chief Executive Officer: “I am concerned that you—as well as other solar providers—may be communicating with customers in a way that is both confusing and misleading and which deprives them of the balanced information they need in order to make informed decisions.”

The letter states: “Some customers … say that solar providers have told them that the rates, rules and regulations applicable to net metering are ‘grandfathered,’ thereby implying that the rates associated with net metering are not subject to change.” As a result, Stump says: “Customers are then surprised, disappointed, and angry to learn from TEP that this may not be the case.”

As a vocal advocate for responsible energy—which I define as energy that is efficient, effective and economical—I have closely followed what is happening with Arizona’s solar industry. There, when the ACC proposed a modification to the net-metering policies to make them more equitable to all utility customers, the solar industry mounted an aggressive PR campaign in attempt to block any changes. When the decision was made in November to add a monthly fee onto the utility bills of new solar customers to make them pay for using the power grid, I applauded the effort.

In light of this new issue, with a leading solar company misleading customers, it is time for the nation’s regulators to take a hard look at their states’ policies. Remember, this past summer, Georgia regulators voted for solar leasing such as SolarCity offers.

Pat Lyons, one of New Mexico’s Public Regulatory Commissioners, watched what happened in Arizona’s net metering battle. Upon learning about SolarCity’s potential deception, he was alarmed. “As solar leasing, like SolarCity pushes, moves into additional markets, regulators across the country need to be aware of the potential pitfalls and misrepresentations.”

It is vital that solar providers be held to the same high standard to which we hold our electric utilities and are made to answer tough questions about consumer protection, safety, and operation issues. Stump’s letter to SolarCity’s CEO asked for responses to his questions by March 31 and said he will “be placing this matter on a Commission open meeting agenda in the near future in order to discuss these important concerns with my fellow commissioners.”

It may be too late to protect some solar customers in Tucson, but there is still a chance to make sure others are treated fairly. If things don’t change, the dark clouds hovering over the industry will be raining on unsuspecting customers.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Editorial
KEYWORDS: energy; energypolicy; greenscam; maritanoon; solarpower

1 posted on 03/30/2014 1:10:10 PM PDT by Kaslin
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To: Kaslin
Reminds me of this: Brad Pitt's charity houses begin to rot.
2 posted on 03/30/2014 1:14:32 PM PDT by Steely Tom (How do you feel about robbing Peter's robot?)
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To: Kaslin

Local solar companies advertising a rebate of 5000 dollars from the state and the cost of solar and its installation is absolutley free, tag line from lou grant “its a no brainer” Which really means dont use your head because you will know its a scam. This scam has come and gone and we all saw what it was really intended to do, pay back zipperheads friends for supporting him, billions of our tax dollars given out and the GOP slept, Im more angry with them than with the criminals who did this


3 posted on 03/30/2014 1:20:25 PM PDT by ronnie raygun (Im missing a jumbo jet with 235 passengers has anyone seen it?)
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To: Kaslin

The only thing I would ever consider solar for is my own personal supplemental heat and I would probably build it myself.


4 posted on 03/30/2014 1:29:44 PM PDT by cripplecreek (REMEMBER THE RIVER RAISIN!)
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To: Kaslin

Two words: Zomrworks Tracker.


5 posted on 03/30/2014 1:30:05 PM PDT by Georgia Girl 2 (The only purpose o f a pistol is to fight your way back to the rifle you should never have dropped.)
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To: ronnie raygun
...and the GOP slept, I'm more angry with them than with the criminals who did this...

Look, the GOP certainly has its problems, but in all honesty I don't see what they could have done. The country - and particularly the news media - was literally in a love-struck swoon over Obama during pretty much his entire first term. It could well be argued that that's still the case, although a few cracks are beginning to show.

I don't think there was a thing anyone could have done. The "green jobs" scams - Solyndra and the like - were well known, and none of the blame went anywhere near Obama. He was completely untouched and unfazed by any of it.

6 posted on 03/30/2014 1:30:20 PM PDT by Steely Tom (How do you feel about robbing Peter's robot?)
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To: Kaslin

I got a junk call a couple weeks ago from some solar installation company. I told the young dingleberry that I wasn’t interested. She kept prattling on about all the wonders of solar. I kept saying I wasn’t interested (normally I hang up on them after first screaming obscenities), but this kook was kind of fun. Her final pitch is “All your neighbors are getting tax breaks because they installed solar. You should get your tax credits, too, before they expire.” Unfortunately, she hung up before my stream of invective got revved up.


7 posted on 03/30/2014 1:38:15 PM PDT by ProtectOurFreedom
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To: Georgia Girl 2

You got that right: I installed my panels 200 feet from my house. Panels installed on roofs can cause roof leaks, make
it super expensive to repair a roof and are architecturally
disturbing to a home’s appearance.


8 posted on 03/30/2014 2:35:19 PM PDT by upcountryhorseman (An old fashioned conservative)
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To: Kaslin

A Republican site and authoress demanding more regulations. That’s no surprise. Most voices in politics are those of anti-competition socialists. Built-up, over-regulated Florida and users of subsidies are also poor examples.

No-vote. There are many, who want to be more independent instead of relying so much on government-linked, anti-competition businesses for necessities.


9 posted on 03/30/2014 3:15:26 PM PDT by familyop (We Baby Boomers are croaking in an avalanche of corruption smelled around the planet.)
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To: Georgia Girl 2

That’s interesting about trackers. I reckon they’re better for your climate. Up here, there are around 300 sun days and much extreme cold. We don’t need the trackers (also frequent high winds), but very sturdy mounts and MPPT controllers are a good idea (cold temps).


10 posted on 03/30/2014 3:23:16 PM PDT by familyop (We Baby Boomers are croaking in an avalanche of corruption smelled around the planet.)
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To: Kaslin
Interesting point about the ‘grandfathered’ rates... If you install a device or if you otherwise decrease your electric bill, the company has a right to increase your rate to make up for the lost income. Thank you lobbyists! So, if you spend your 100k$ for solar panels and get your electricity bill down, the electric company will then raise your rate to the point that you are paying the same amount you previously paid but getting less for it.
Sounds like a plan to me!
11 posted on 03/30/2014 3:36:06 PM PDT by ArtDodger
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To: Kaslin

"If it sounds too good to be true..."


12 posted on 03/30/2014 4:16:29 PM PDT by Elsie (Heck is where people, who don't believe in Gosh, think they are not going...)
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To: Kaslin

Environmentalism is this century’s snake oil. Mankind will never be bereft of fools or scoundrels.


13 posted on 03/30/2014 4:17:52 PM PDT by Spok ("What're you going to believe-me or your own eyes?" -Marx (Groucho))
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To: Spok

no, snake oil was business, scamming the gullible

Enviromentsl grants and loans are treft from the treasury. money is laundered through companies established explicitly for the purpse

The Democrat Party is a Criminal Enterprise


14 posted on 03/30/2014 4:21:54 PM PDT by bert ((K.E. N.P. N.C. +12 ..... History is a process, not an event)
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To: familyop

The nice thing about the Zomeworks tracker is its a passive tracker and does not need electricty. At night you just push it back into position and it starts all over the next day. Its supposed to improve the efficiency of your system by up to 35-40%. We get a lot of gray days in the winter in GA.


15 posted on 03/30/2014 4:32:15 PM PDT by Georgia Girl 2 (The only purpose o f a pistol is to fight your way back to the rifle you should never have dropped.)
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To: Georgia Girl 2

Needs no extra power. Good stuff!

I’ve come up with a few good modifications for existing space and water heating systems (free designs by others), but it appears that the Mechanical Code (IMC, IBC, ASTM) favors manufacturers and is going to get in the way somewhat. It’s likely that many others are going to build the systems anyway. I wonder how many people have dumped insurance or are planning on doing so.


16 posted on 03/30/2014 4:44:22 PM PDT by familyop (We Baby Boomers are croaking in an avalanche of corruption smelled around the planet.)
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To: ProtectOurFreedom

I received a call also, I told them I was not interested in solar. They asked me why and I told them the sun was rapidly burning out and solar panels were on the way out they better look for a new job...


17 posted on 03/30/2014 5:24:59 PM PDT by rolling_stone
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To: rolling_stone

LOL...nice response. The dim bulbs that call me would reply “Oh, really? OMG, I didn’t know that! Like, I better go get my nails done right away.”


18 posted on 03/30/2014 5:34:17 PM PDT by ProtectOurFreedom
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To: Steely Tom

Excellent point. I am tired of those who are pointing the finger at the GOP instead at those who are really at fault. they are forgetting that we only have the House


19 posted on 03/30/2014 5:47:59 PM PDT by Kaslin (He needed the ignorant to reelect him, and he got them. Now we all have to pay the consequenses)
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To: ProtectOurFreedom

When they call me I tell them it isn’t right , moral, or just to steal from my neighbors for my benefit. Then I tell them they should quit trying to get people to steal. Then they say they don’t know what I am talking about and hang up. Yeah they do. When we all refuse the fruits of thievery, thievery will stop. Well done.


20 posted on 03/30/2014 6:06:08 PM PDT by Nuc 1.1 (Nuc 1 Liberals aren't Patriots. Remember 1789!)
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To: familyop

We are buying a plug and play off grid system from Wholesale Solar. For now we are just going to set it up and keep as back up for when the grid goes down. We are moving to our mountain retreat and putting all appliances on propane and then 2 one thousand gallon propane tanks. We figure we can go two years eithout a refill. Woodstove for heat. Hopefully that will be good enough. :-)


21 posted on 03/31/2014 8:36:23 AM PDT by Georgia Girl 2 (The only purpose o f a pistol is to fight your way back to the rifle you should never have dropped.)
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To: Georgia Girl 2

Oh, yeah, 2,000 gallons will work real good. ;-) A thousand could go for nearly 20 years if used for cooking only.


22 posted on 03/31/2014 7:02:46 PM PDT by familyop (We Baby Boomers are croaking in an avalanche of corruption smelled around the planet.)
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To: familyop

stove, refrigerator, water heater, dryer, and backup generator.


23 posted on 03/31/2014 8:14:46 PM PDT by Georgia Girl 2 (The only purpose o f a pistol is to fight your way back to the rifle you should never have dropped.)
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To: Georgia Girl 2

That’ll probably work really well for more than a couple of years. There are less expensive ways over time, but they’re also more labor-intensive, sometimes more costly to build and less convenient over time (PV solar refrigeration, clothes drying shelters, various mass heaters like masonry heaters or rocket mass heaters, wood-fired or solar water heating and so on). Many of the less expensive solutions can also be problematic in regards to codes and insurance in some areas.

Looks like your plan is a great one. Here, we have different conditions—a climate sometimes too cold for propane to produce enough gas pressure for a generator (pressure too low even from big tanks in winter) but dry and sunny enough to make a few other things work a little better.

Heating is a tough problem here. Saw a low of -39, F, one night in the winter of 2012-2013. A small house here can gobble a thousand gallons of propane for heaters within six months, and without any powerlines nearby (PV solar electricity needed), furnace blowers aren’t feasible. So you chose a great place.


24 posted on 04/01/2014 1:16:02 PM PDT by familyop (We Baby Boomers are croaking in an avalanche of corruption smelled around the planet.)
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To: familyop

Yes in the GA mountains you get 4 nice seasons. Summer not too hot, winter not too cold, fall and spring delightful. With raised bed gardens you can get two crops if you time it right.

We are going to use a woodstove for heat if the grid goes down so as not to use up the propane. If you sit one of those eco fans on it and leave the bedroom doors open it will push the heat all over the house.

Solar for lights, a small freezer, well pump, washing maschine, vacuumn that kind of stuff.

Mr. GG2 has made a rocket stove for every memeber of our family and also put together a ceramic water filtration system for everyone. We have a Berkey and then we kept one of the homemade filtration systems for a back up for us.

It definitely pays to prepare. :-)


25 posted on 04/01/2014 2:59:20 PM PDT by Georgia Girl 2 (The only purpose o f a pistol is to fight your way back to the rifle you should never have dropped.)
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