Apr 29, 2023·edited Apr 29, 2023

I am a consumer attorney, and I can tell you that the fire hose of money coming for Solar is absolutely sparking a terrible wave of scammy solar companies going around and selling wildly overpriced solar systems to elders and vulnerable populations who will get no benefit from the tax credits. the systems are being sold with high-pressure door-to-door sales people who use iPads to get the elders to sign on the dotted line, without ever showing them a single readable piece of paper, and carefully leaving no paper in the house for children, or grandchildren to find So they don’t run afoul of the three day right to cancel rule. I had a client who makes barely any money at all per year who fell for and got sold a $62,000 solar system they could never actually afford but they were shown glitzy projections of How much money they would get, which were all based on the assumption that the tax credits were valuable to them.

A lot of home security system companies and their sales forces are being dedicated over to these solar sales now because they target the same vulnerable populations and use exactly the same techniques. They are vicious And they hide behind forced arbitration, clauses to prevent themselves from ever facing the judge or jury.

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This scares me. I don’t know what can be done about it

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The thing to do is NEVER buy anything from a door-to-door salesman — I counsel all my clients (especially elders) to refuse to talk to any door to door folks except to say “If you leave something for me to read, I’ll read it.”

Most of the shadiest folks have no written material (because that is called “evidence”) — they have a practiced spiel and a tablet to get signatures on, which leaves essentially no trace for a neighbor or adult child to ask about (which would blow their cover). They want to get you talking and they are very good at winning your trust.

Buy your solar through a community solar purchase program — they will get you a good price on a bulk purchase through a contractor list that is vetted.

Funny, just this weekend, a crew of prospectors went through our neighborhood and they knocked on my door Saturday morning. My bride answered and she’s so nice that she didn’t tell the young lady to shove off, and I heard the young lady misrepresenting changes to our solar net metering law, telling my wife that the law was going to change “soon” and that it would mean our recovery would go down by up to 50% (this is all bunk).

And of course, what the young lady couldn’t see is that we have solar on the back of the house already, purchased through a community solar project through a local nonprofit. But it’s amazing how brazen these prospecting crews are — they will say ANYTHING to get you to sign on the line that is dotted.

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Thanks for this

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Just read about this startup that had an innovative product that allows solar installs without any modification to the electric panel. It seems like a way to significantly lower the install cost. I'd love to hear a Volts interview with this company: https://connectder.com/products/solar-meter-adapter/

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Update: got a call yesterday from an elderly man in a small rural Oregon town; his even more elderly wife, a month before she died, got sold a 42 panel solar PV system (!) for their 1200 sq ft house, with a sticker price of over $100,000. Assuming 350w panels, that’s a 15kW system, which is way way more than these people could ever need. And a low, low, low price of nearly $8 per installed watt. (For comparison, not that far away, in 2021, I paid $1.75 per installed watt for a 7 kW system purchased through a group purchase plan run by a nonprofit.)

Before she died, the wife who did the deal with the solar company had a monthly income of $1400 from Social Security, and so obviously she will get no benefit from tax credits applied to her income since she paid no income taxes.

The husband has never signed anything and has no idea what’s going on and the solar company won’t talk to him since he’s not on the contract . . . (He’s just a co-victim.)

In other words, it’s an equity stripping scam, solar is now being sold just like the old aluminum siding and vinyl window scams: use door-to-door prospectors to find elders with a ton of equity and sell them something for their house that’s absurdly overpriced and then either they pay you monthly for the scam or they die and you get paid on your lien against the house. And, no doubt, they’re going to fight like rabid weasels.

So the moral of the story remains the same — never talk to a door-to-door salesman. At most, offer to read anything they leave behind, but do not talk to them, and for God’s sake don’t invite them in and don’t sign anything. Anything they tell you about “We’re in the neighborhood working on a house nearby so we have a special discount if you sign up today” is utter BS.

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