How Florida Can Restore Confidence in the Solar Industry

By: Daniel Stevens, Medium

Last November, Floridians voted down a controversial ballot measure that would have limited expansion of rooftop solar panels. While voters declared their support for green energy, the industry’s customers have been telling a different story. In hundreds of complaints filed with the Florida Attorney General’s Office, customers across the state reported how they have been mistreated by companies selling rooftop solar panels. If solar energy is going to expand responsibly, the Attorney General needs to intervene and hold the industry’s bad actors accountable.

That’s why earlier this year, my organization, Campaign for Accountability asked Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi to open an investigation into the misleading marketing practices of companies that install solar panels. CfA’s complaint followed previous work by two consumer watchdog groups, Public Citizen and the National Consumer Law Center (NCLC), which cautioned federal authorities about the industry.

Last August, Public Citizen, submitted comments to the Federal Trade Commission, criticizing the arbitration clauses included in rooftop solar contracts and noted that solar leasing arrangements pose “significant financial risks for families.” Similarly, NCLC submitted comments to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, also in August, urging the agency to take action to protect low-income consumers citing, among other things, a dramatic increase in leases for solar panels “and extensive complaints of false claims as to the savings with such panels and the terms of the leases.”

After Public Citizen and NCLC pointed out these problems, CfA asked the Florida Attorney General’s Office for copies of all consumer complaints about solar panels dating back to 2011. The complaints revealed a widespread pattern of apparent fraud and abuse by solar companies.

Read the rest of the op-ed here, on our Medium page.