Last week at Solar Power International in Orlando, SEIA president Rhone Resch opened the conference with a discussion on trends that positively and negatively affect the solar industry. One of his strongest cautions was of unhealthy business practices that undercut all of the successes currently enjoyed by the solar industry as it continues to grow in public awareness and grid penetration. Resch pointed to the October 2012 issue of Consumer Reports, which places residential solar installation at the top of a list of the latest scams for consumers to watch out for. He warned the SPI crowd of solar practitioners that it only takes a small portion of bad business practices to create a negative image of the solar industry, which threatens the credibility and maturation of the market.
While focused on residential financing, the comments of the SEIA president apply as well to the commercial and institutional markets. When seeking solar professionals, we urge investors to develop a working knowledge of how solar electricity works technically and financially before seeking consultation from an installer / EPC contractor. When it’s time to choose a solar contractor, it is also important for owners to be informed about the companies from which they are choosing. For projects located in Massachusetts, the tools provided by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center are a great resource.
As technical consultants for the Solarize Massachusetts program, Solar Design Associates looked at many proposals which represented some of the best solar installers in the industry. Understanding that wherever there is a successful industry, there will be some risk of fraudulent contractors, SDA is available as a long term expert in the field to review and assist in verifying legitimate and reasonable claims in solar proposals or contracts.