Time Magazine Says the Solar Industry Might Collapse

January 28, 2024

Making the rounds on Mastodon is an article sounding the alarm on the rooftop solar industry. The article highlights a few issues:

  • Many solar installs either do not work or are undersized.
  • Salespeople are fraudulently sighing people up for or pressuring them into loans that are bad deals.
  • The cost of sales is making solar overly expensive.

Why It Matters

Rooftop solar adoption is important to help the United States mitigate its carbon emissions. If these companies do not have a workable model and go under then we may not reach important milestones in renewable energy generation.

An Instructive Experience

When I first bought my home I had a MassSave energy audit “performed” on my home. This largely entailed a sales person dropping by and drilling a small hole in my drywall that was later patched and telling me I had insulation. I signed some papers for insulation and sealing work that the company never ended up performing. They gave me some power strips and a low flow shower head I did not use. Then over the winter I realized my basement had a room that was losing heat.

As I gained knowledge through my own research I was able to learn that a good energy auditor should do a blower test and thermal scan to have baseline data. Simple visual inspection showed where insulation was missing in utility spaces around that room. On the coldest days air infiltration from windows was more than obvious. I emailed the sales person we worked with last year and he no longer works with the company.

How to Fix This

I have a few ideas for how to fix this situation:

  • Require plain language and easy to understand financial disclosures for loans, much like we have for a home closing.
  • Require a 24 hour review period before loan documents can be signed.
  • Update the MassSave website with content in text and video that describes what you should expect during an energy evaluation.
  • Conduct an audit of existing MassSave incentives that were tagged to see whether the work was actually performed.

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This work by Matt Zagaja is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.