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Flitter Milz represents people with a variety of problems involving consumer credit and collections. If you have a particular question or believe your consumer rights have been violated, Contact Us for a no cost consultation.

Solar panels on your home — an advantage or not?

Solar energy can provide benefits to many homeowners — from the financial reward of savings on energy bills, to the ecological benefits of  “going green”. While some folks may see a home with a solar power system as an added benefit, others may find it undesirable.

Regardless, the consideration of solar power and panels for the home requires research. Homeowners must explore the variety of products, evaluate the best system for the needs of the household, investigate cost savings, compare finance and/or lease terms, and finally, determine whether adding a solar system is right for their budget.

Is solar power is right for you?

Before contacting a solar sales company, the homeowner should take time to evaluate whether adding solar panels to the home would provide enough financial benefit, plus meet the energy needs of the household. Factors for consideration are: house size, roof — condition and dimensions, climate zone, community regulations, local electricity rates and government incentives. As well, the homeowner may contemplate the following:

Current energy usage?

Am I using my energy wisely?  Will solar panels reduce my monthly energy bill?
Review your energy bill for usage.  Determine ways that may reduce the current expense such as, changing light bulbs; installing dimmers; fixing a leaking faucet; repairing ductwork. Understand your cost of energy and how much you might save by changing to solar.

Sunlight Exposure?  

Does my roof get enough sunlight throughout the year?

Evaluate the sun’s path during daylight hours.  How many hours of the day does the roof get sunlight?  Calculate the number of hours that your roof is shaded.  Does the sun/shade ratio change from season-to-season?  Would solar panels provide the same benefit throughout the year?

Roof Condition?

Does the roof need repair before adding solar panels?
Does the roof and/or shingles require repair or replacement before installation of panels? Will the roof handle the weight of solar panels?  Shall I contact an independent roofer to evaluate the roof’s condition?

 

Tree Removal?

Do I need to remove trees to create more sunlight for my home?

Review landscaping around the property for sun exposure to the roof.  Will panels get enough sunlight to perform at maximum efficiency?  Consult with an arborist to estimate tree growth over a 25 year period and the impact of sunlight over the seasons. Will trees require removal or transplant?

Is solar power free?

Often, prospective customers for solar systems are told the panels will be free.  But, we must know, there is no such thing as a free lunch…and in this case, no such thing as free solar panels.  Customers will pay for the electricity that is produced by the panels, usually under a solar lease or power purchase agreement.  What is the difference?

Solar Panel Lease
A solar lease is a contractual agreement between the homeowner and the solar energy company for installation of solar panels on the roof of the home.  Usually, there is no down payment and the solar company is responsible for maintenance. The homeowner makes monthly payments to the solar leasing company at a fixed monthly amount or sells the electricity generated from the panels at a set price per Kilowatt-hour. The solar company is also entitled to all the rebates, tax breaks and incentives for solar power.  Solar leases typically last 20 – 25 years.

Power Purchase Agreement (PPA)
A Power Purchase Agreement is an arrangement in which the solar company plans for the design, permitting, financing and installation of a solar energy system on a customer’s property.  The homeowner does not own the hardware — the panels or inverter. The solar company sells the power generated to the homeowner at a fixed rate that is typically lower than the local utility’s retail rate. This lower electricity price serves to offset the customer’s purchase of electricity from the grid while the solar company receives the income from the sale of electricity as well as any tax credits and other incentives generated from the system.

PPAs typically range from 10 to 25 years and the solar company usually places a lien on the property.  The solar company remains responsible for the operation and maintenance of the system for the duration of the agreement. At the end of the PPA contract term, a customer may be able to extend the PPA, have the solar system removed or choose to buy the solar energy system from them.

Buying, Selling or Refinancing a Home with Solar Panels

Before entering an agreement for a solar power system, whether as an initial purchase, refinancing an existing contract, or purchasing a home with an existing system, you, the consumer, must obtain a copy of the solar panel contract. Take time to review the terms of the agreement. If you need clarification, consult with a real estate agent or real estate attorney for explanation of your legal and financial obligation.  Determine whether this agreement is right for you by evaluating:
-Monthly cost for panels
-Monthly cost for power
-Full term of lease or finance agreement.
Common questions:
-Ask whether you are able to assume the solar contract from the seller?
-Find out if the panels were purchased or leased.
-Inquire whether there is a lien on the property for the panels?
-Must the lien be satisfied before the sale?
-Does the solar panel contract allow for transfer to a new home buyer?
-Does the warranty transfer to the new home buyer?

Seek Legal Help from a Qualified Consumer Law Firm

Flitter Milz is a nationally recognized consumer protection law firm that evaluates solar panel sales matters for potential violation of the consumer laws involving fraud, such as forged contracts, identity theft and credit reporting privacy violations.  Contact Us

Pictured:  Cary Flitter (center), Andy Milz (left), Jody López-Jacobs (right).

 

Are Solar Panels Really Free? Things To Look Out For During Solar Sales

There may be a knock on your door by a friendly solar panel sales representative. You may be informed of the benefits of solar power and that by choosing to get panels for your home they would be ‘free’.

Remember the old adage – ‘There’s no such thing as a free lunch.’

Free Doesn’t Mean Free or ‘No-Cost’

A solar company sales representative may inform you that by signing up for solar power, you won’t have to pay for the panels themselves — they will be given to you for free.

The trouble is that you will still end up paying each month toward a lengthy contract which could last up to a quarter century. Basically, a solar lease, or solar power purchase agreement (PPA), closely resembles a home mortgage in contract duration than it would an automotive loan. (Think long-term versus short-term).

Solar Leases or PPAs: What Is The Difference? 

Solar Lease. If you opt to enter into a solar panel lease, you contractually agree to pay a monthly fee for the ability to essentially rent the solar system from a third-party vendor.  So, while the sales representative may tell you that by signing up you are getting the solar panels for ‘free,’ you are still locked into a contract for a system that you will have to pay toward for several years.

Power Purchase Agreement. The other model is a PPA, which is where the homeowner chooses to purchase power directly from the solar power company at a certain rate. In this type of arrangement, the solar companies typically make out better financially than the individual consumer, since the company can take advantage of certain tax credits and monetary benefits, being that they are technically the ‘owner’ of the system, while the individual customer still has to pay for a system that isn’t actually theirs.

The ‘Free’ Panels Aren’t Yours

Because both of these types of arrangements – a lease and a PPA – involve paying for electricity-generating equipment over a lengthy contract period, those ‘free’ panels that you were promised may be anything but. Once installed on your home’s roof, you will still end up paying toward an entire system that is leased or rented, for a number of years. In the end, the savings you may reap from the solar generated electricity itself may not be enough to make up for those ‘free’ panels.

Be Cautious…Be Patient…No need to act today.

Many door-to-door solar sales representatives often ask the consumer to make quick, on-the-spot decisions about obtaining solar power for the home. It is not unusual for the homeowner to feel pressured and the need to act immediately.

 

 

Before signing anything consider the following:

1.  Insist that the salesperson provide paper copies of contracts and documents
2.  Read every document that requires your signature or initials.
3.  Get all of your questions answered.
4.  Get all of the salesperson’s promises in writing.
5.  Seek advice from a trusted advisor.

Seek Legal Help

Flitter Milz is a nationally recognized consumer protection law firm experienced in evaluating fraudulent sales tactics, such as forgery, identity theft and unauthorized credit pulls by solar panel salesmen. If you feel as though you may have been scammed into leasing a home solar system, Contact Flitter Milz today for a no-cost consultation.

Solar Power – The Wave of the Future? Beware of scams.

Solar power can be an exciting and environmentally-friendly way to “go green” while potentially saving money on your electric bills.  Often consumers view the change to solar power for their home as an investment in the future with benefits for generations to come.  But before you or your family chooses solar, you should determine if solar is right for you and your home.

Continue reading Solar Power – The Wave of the Future? Beware of scams.