Shoddy Solar Contracting Spurs Fund

By Published On: September 22, 2020

Substandard rooftop solar work has become a significant enough problem in some communities that the California Public Utilities Commission may create a fund to address claims from aggrieved residential ratepayers.

Commissioner Martha Guzman Aceves proposes adding $12 to each new solar interconnection to fund a $1.6 million net energy metering recovery fund annually. The investor-owned utility current average connection cost is $100. 

Fraud by incompetent and/or sleezy solar contractors threatens the state’s solar program, Guzman Aceves said during a Sept. 22 workshop, making it more difficult for disadvantaged communities to benefit from rooftop solar.

The problem is largely linked to unlicensed contractors or those who have lost their license with the California State Licensing Board.

The recovery fund would provide money to residential consumers whose systems are not generating and who lack recourse to have the system fixed by the installer.

The fund will make the net energy metering program “more equitable and sustainable,” Guzman Aceves said.

The average cost of claims in one region was almost $8,000 each, according to the board.

The proposed program will not apply to solar installations funded by Property Assessed Clean Energy loans because they already include fraud protections. In PACE financing programs, a homeowner borrows money from a lender and repays it as part of their property tax assessment. The county tax assessor then sends the portion of the tax payment dedicated to the PACE loan to the lender.

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