Consumer group asks state to investigate solar companies’ sales practices

By Ted Sickinger, The Oregonian, March 30, 2017

Consumer advocates are pressing Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum to investigate sales practices that they contend are designed to trick homeowners into buying or leasing solar panels.

The Washington, D.C.-based Campaign for Accountability requested the investigation this week after reviewing 58 consumer complaints filed with the Oregon Justice Department since 2012.

The group said the complaints showed “a widespread pattern of apparent fraud and abuse by solar companies,” including consumers being deceived about the true cost of installing panels and promised energy savings that never materialized.

Daniel Stevens, the advocacy group’s director, said the practices appear to violate Oregon’s Unlawful Trade Practices Act. He has asked attorneys general in Florida, California and Texas to launch similar investigations.

“Solar companies often seem to target vulnerable populations, leaving senior Oregonians and those living on fixed incomes with higher monthly utility costs and loans that often exceed what they can afford to pay, plunging them into debt,” Stevens claims.

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