Solar power is all the rage these days. And while many people are taking the plunge to purchase solar panels for their homes, they’re also discovering that there are several solar providers on the market. Choosing one can sometimes be a daunting process.
So, how can you ensure you get what’s right for you and most importantly don’t get burned?
Well, thanks to the new Solar Consumer Protection Law, Assembly Bill (AB)1070 (Chapter 662, Statutes of 2017), which took effect July 1, 2018, California homeowners now have more protection and information available to them regarding solar power/panel installation.
AB 1070 was championed by Assembly Member Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) to help protect consumers from misleading and unscrupulous solar power companies, as well as provide them with concise, standardized and simplified disclosure information regarding solar power installation.
As part of AB 1070, the Contractors State License Board (CSLB), in collaboration with the California Public Utilities Commission (PUC), developed a solar disclosure document that is to be printed on the front page of every solar energy contract. That must be provided to consumers prior to the completion of sale, financing or lease of a solar system.
To further protect homeowners, AB 1070 created the standard that the disclosure document and the contract must be written in the same language principally used in the oral sales presentation or the marketing materials provided to the consumer. The contractor must translate the document into other languages, as necessary. The disclosure document is available on CSLB’s website in English and Spanish.
“CSLB hopes the requirement to include the disclosure document in the contract for residential solar energy systems will help reduce any miscommunication between contractors and consumers”, said CSLB Registrar, David Fogt. “Homeowners should also look to our website to get other important tips to help them determine financing options and to make sure that solar is the right choice for them.”
CSLB has also developed a “solar smart” section on their website which could aid consumers who are considering installing a residential solar energy system and the information they need to know before getting started. It covers many topics, such as financing options, what license classification can legally install photovoltaic solar energy systems, and resources available from other government entities.
In addition, if you’re concerned that the contractor you hired to install your solar energy system doesn’t quite measure up, CSLB has many other resources available to help you hire the right contractor for the job. The first step would be to always make sure someone is, in fact, a licensed contractor. You can do so by plugging in some basic information on CSLB’s website to find a contractor’s record and to see their license status. Visit CSLB’s “instant license check” to make sure the person hired is licensed, or use the online “Find My Licensed Contractor” feature to download a list of licensed contractors in their area.
As the solar industry in California continues to boom, CSLB will be there to hold licensee’s accountable and to protect consumers from any potential fraud. Property owners should always remember that when hiring for any kind of home improvement project, whether it’s installing solar or even painting your home, think of CSLB and use the free online tools available for hiring a legitimate contractor.