If you are interested in generating your own energy, you might or might not have noticed a rise in misleading solar advertisements or even scams. Below you will find tips to help you spot misrepresentations and educate yourself about the solar market.
Remember that solar installers operate independently from Alliant Energy and we do not endorse any firm.
Where you may see misleading ads
Solar power scams and misleading information come in many forms. Below are common red flags to watch out for as you evaluate social or digital ads or talk to companies:
- Unrealistic prices: Beware of a company that offers unbelievably low prices such as free or no-cost panels and installation. Scammers use misleading claims to grab your attention.
- Tax credits: Companies often promise substantial tax credits. These credits are available if you own the system. If you chose to lease your solar power system, you will not receive any tax credits.
- Government rebates or programs: Although the government does offer certain solar rebates and programs, promises about such programs in ads are almost always false. An easy way to find out if a rebate or program is fake is to check your local and state government websites. You can also check the Federal Government's Homeowner’s Guide to Federal Tax Credits for more information.
- Solar panel replacements: Be cautious of a company that offers to replace your existing solar panels. This offer often comes with strings attached. For instance, the scammer may try to convince you to sign a roof replacement loan. We’ve also seen companies offer to replace existing panels for free, then exchange them with cheap or faulty equipment. Remember, no one offers valuable things freely.
- Affiliation with utility company: We do not partner with or endorse solar installation companies. This is a major red flag. While we support and leverage solar power, Alliant Energy does not ask customers to purchase solar panels, and we do not offer rebates on solar panels. Be careful of anyone that claims an affiliation with us or makes a deceptive promise on our behalf.
- No utility bill: Another major red flag is if companies claim you will no longer receive an electric utility bill. Customers who do purchase solar panels will still have an Alliant Energy bill. Although some customers can generate enough solar energy to offset their usage, all customers connected to our power grid receive a monthly bill.
Other things to look out for
Aside from misleading online advertisements, you should also look out for high-pressure sales tactics. Scammers pressure customers into signing solar contracts or financing agreement they do not fully understand. Here are some manipulative practices to beware of:
- Requests for verbal agreements.
- Demands for cash.
- A system quote given without the installer evaluating your home and its energy usage history.
- Individuals who pose as government or utility company representatives, either through door-to-door solicitations or unsolicited phone calls.
- Willingness to start a project without a signed contract.
- Special limited-time financing rates or incentive programs.
- Claims that a solar system with battery storage or single brand of technology is the only option available.
- High estimates of future utility rate increases.
Shopping for solar checklist
- Always do your research.
- Gather and review your energy usage history.
- Receive bids from multiple installers.
- Receive the installers’ promises in writing.
- Read reviews.
- Talk to local electricians.
- Read every document that requires your signature or initials.
- Ensure the installer provides you with copies of contracts and documents.
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Questions to ask solar installation companies
Below are key questions to ask solar installation company representatives as you investigate whether to add a solar generation system to your home or business:
- Is my location a good spot for solar power?
- Does my home or business’s rooftop have adequate structural support for panels?
- What type of panels should I look for?
- How long will my solar panels last?
- What financing options do you offer and what are the differences?
- What warranties do you offer?
- Who does the paperwork for utility interconnection and permits?
- Are the fees associated with interconnection included in the price of the system?
- What happens if I sell my home?
- Do you offer any cancelation options?