(BOISE) – Attorney General Lawrence Wasden is advising Idahoans to do their homework before purchasing residential rooftop solar systems. The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division continues to receive reports and complaints from the public about some solar companies’ misleading sales tactics through door-to-door sales and social media advertisements.

“The installation of solar equipment at your home can be a big investment,” Wasden said. “There are some very reputable solar companies doing business here in Idaho, but some installers aren’t always 100 percent honest in their representations to customers. My goal is to shed some light on the issue to make sure Idahoans are prepared and protected in the marketplace.”

Consumers report false representations that:

  • Installers work for or partner with the State of Idaho or the customer’s electric provider. Neither an electric utility company nor the State of Idaho partners with businesses that sell residential solar systems. Rather, electric utility companies process consumers’ applications to connect a solar system to the electric grid.
  • Consumers will receive government rebates or payments for installing solar systems. Only some consumers are eligible for tax credits and should talk to their financial or tax advisor about their eligibility.
  • Customers with solar equipment will never pay a power bill again. Even with a residential solar system, consumers are connected to the electric grid and continue to receive bills from their electric utility for connection fees and electric service beyond what a solar system generates.
  • Idaho is experiencing an energy shortage. The state has ample access to a variety of energy resources.
  • Solar customers will be “locked in” to current rate pricing established by the Idaho Public Utilities Commission. The Idaho PUC does not set solar prices.
  • During an electrical power outage, consumers with rooftop solar will still have power. Solar panels only generate power during a blackout if a solar battery is installed.

When deciding whether to purchase a residential solar system, consumers should:

Compare online reviews and check with the Better Business Bureau for any complaints. For companies operating in multiple states, focus on local, relevant, and recent customer reviews.

Check qualifications and look for established companies to ensure your solar equipment warranties will be honored. If an installer goes out of business, consumers may have no one to answer questions or address warranty issues.

Ensure your installer is licensed, bonded, and insured and has provided you with the legally required information from the Idaho Residential Energy System Disclosure Act.

Plan your system with your installer to decide the proper size and equipment and find out if your electric utility offers information regarding these considerations.

Ask for references of prior customers.

Shop around and get multiple quotes just like you would with any large purchase to ensure you’re getting the best deal to fit your needs.

Understand the interconnection process required by your electric utility by contacting your electric utility’s customer generation department. Consumers have expressed problems about installers’ noncompliance with the application, inspection, and connection requirements to connect solar systems to the electric utility grid.

Research the benefits and potential issues of a rooftop solar system by understanding your electricity use patterns, the solar system size necessary to meet your electrical needs, and the financial commitment of a solar system. Some consumers complain about experiencing no significant reduction in electric utility bills after installation of their systems.

Know how to get help from the installer following installation.