Skip to comments.Scams, Fraud Flourish in Solar Still
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 Energywhich also operated as Advanced Solar Photonics (ASP) and SunHouse Solarsold 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 Energys solar panels had counterfeit UL labelsthis 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 gridwhich 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 companys published performance ratings.
In July 2013, BlueChips 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 Chinas biggest panel makers have failed. On March 20, 2013, Suntech, one of the worlds 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 Suntechs 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 firms 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 theres a life to be saved, but if its 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 Holts 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 wasnt enough, a new potentially fraudulent scheme has just been exposed.
A recent report from the Arizona Republic, points to complaints the Arizona Corporation Commissionthe states top utility regulatoris 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, SolarCitythe nations 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, SolarCitys Chief Executive Officer: I am concerned that youas well as other solar providersmay 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 energywhich I define as energy that is efficient, effective and economicalI have closely followed what is happening with Arizonas 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 nations 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 Mexicos Public Regulatory Commissioners, watched what happened in Arizonas net metering battle. Upon learning about SolarCitys 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. Stumps letter to SolarCitys 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 dont change, the dark clouds hovering over the industry will be raining on unsuspecting customers.
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
The only thing I would ever consider solar for is my own personal supplemental heat and I would probably build it myself.
Two words: Zomrworks Tracker.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
Environmentalism is this century’s snake oil. Mankind will never be bereft of fools or scoundrels.
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
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.
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.
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...
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.”
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
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.