New Mexico offers solar customers more transparency

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New Mexico’s Attorney General Hector Balderas has created a disclosure form designed to make solar contracts easier to understand for consumers and protect them from unscrupulous sales tactics.

Created after getting input from the solar and housing industries, consumer protection groups and regulators, the form is designed to help consumers education themselves with the terms necessary for them to understand solar contracts, whether the consumer is purchasing or leasing their system, or signing a power-purchase agreement (PPA).

The number of complaints from New Mexicans who feel they’ve been misled by solar companies have been on the rise, particularly those for whom English is not their first language. In the release announcing the new document, Balderas provided a phone number where consumers can register their complaints.

Balderas said the form may be used to comply with the requirements of the Distributed Generation Disclosure Act by companies who offer rooftop solar systems.

As with many younger industries with low barriers to entry, the solar industry has attracted some shady characters whose only interest is making profits, even if it means preying on poorly informed consumers.

But as Balderas’ actions show, there is now a much larger emphasis on protecting consumers from such solar installers. The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) has said that one of its priorities is to improve the protection of solar consumers’ rights.

Last March, SEIA launched a consumer education campaign to much fanfare, and it says it is continuing to develop more resources for consumers to use to protect themselves.

“Consumer protection continues to be of utmost importance to our industry and SEIA,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, SEIA’s president and CEO. “We are very encouraged by the steps being taken in New Mexico to help consumers better understand solar transactions. We look forward to working with other states who want to ensure consumers feel fully confident in their decision to go solar while allowing the solar industry to thrive in those states.”

Read the four-page form below:

UPDATE: This article was edited at 10:13 am on 1/9/2018 to add comments from Abigail Ross Hopper, SEIA’s president and CEO.