CBS47 On Your Side: In the market for solar panels, experts say do your homework first

CBS47 On Your Side

FRESNO, California (KGPE) – Are you in the market for solar panels on your home?

The California Energy Commission states Fresno has the third highest number of homes in the state with rooftop solar panels.

But the industry has seen its share of complaints, that’s one of the reasons last week, state and local agencies with the Solar Consumer Protection Government Task Force got together in Parlier.

The organization announced they are targeting fraudulent installers in the solar industry.

Rick Lopes with the Contractors State License Board says consumers can protect themselves.

Lopes says, “You want to make sure the contractor you hire is licensed by the state. The law says any jobs that is over $500 or more with labor and materials has to be done by a state licensed contractor.”

Lopes says people need to check the Contractors State License Board’s website.

On the site, consumers can see if the license is in good standing, or if any actions have been taken against the contractor.

Experts say you also need to make sure the company is licensed to do the work, you need to get done.

Lopes says, “We recommend you get bids from at least three different contractors. Don’t necessarily go for the lowest, especially if that bid is a lot lower than the others, you have to ask yourself, don’t leave that common sense aside.”

Another issue experts say consumers have with solar companies is financing.

Lopes says you have to remember solar is not free.

Parlier resident, Emily Ramirez, says she was told her solar was being paid for through a government program. It wasn’t.

She had to take out several loans just to keep her home.

Ramirez says, “Its really sad to know these people are committing crimes. I would investigate them first.”

Ramirez and others say get everything in writing.

The law is simple with regards to down payments, only give 10% of the total price of the job, or $1,000, whichever is lower.

If you have an issue with a contractor file a complaint with the Contractors State License Board.

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