Buyer beware: Don’t get burned by solar power rip-offs

While Roanoke Electric Cooperative embraces solar as a valuable renewable energy, the co-op is warning member-owners of third party vendors using deceptive selling tactics to pedal solar power.

“Over the last few months, we’ve received many calls from member-owners, who have spoken to vendors about installing solar panels at their homes,” said George Stamper, the co-op’s vice-president of information services and engineering.  “Unfortunately, some homeowners have been burned by less-than-honorable contractors promising everything from insufficient cost-to-savings ratios to the myth of being able to go completely off grid.”

Installing a renewable energy source does not only involve a qualified contractor, but also involves electrical codes, safety codes, and city or county permits. Other factors to consider include your home’s patterns of energy consumption and whether your roof can safely accommodate solar panels.

The local electric utility must also grant permission to connect that resource to the electrical grid. “Even with the installation of solar panels at your home, you’ll still be connected to our electrical grid to power your home when panels don’t generate sufficient electricity,” Stamper explained.

Before making any purchase of solar panels, he advises member-owners to contact the co-op first to avoid being taken advantage of. Stamper referred to recent instances of third-party vendors embellishing potential energy savings and offering misleading financials.  Published reports also warn of scammers fraudulently claiming to represent a local utility, while selling panels either door-to-door or over the phone.

“As your trusted energy provider, we want you to be well-informed, ” Stamper said. “We encourage you to call us, even if you are only thinking about solar, wind, ground-source (geothermal) or hydroelectricity.”

For more information or to speak to someone about your interest in solar, call 252-209-2236.