FRESNO, California – More than one million homes in California have solar panels on their roofs generating electricity.
The California Energy Commission states Fresno has the third highest number of homes in the state with rooftop solar panels.
But if you’re in the market for a solar panel system, listen up!
A Fresno family found out the hard way that if you don’t get the okay from PG&E, you could be stuck holding two bills.
Stan Feagins says, “That’s the transformer we are hooked up to now. Apparently there is only one other house on it.”
The Feagins were tired of paying $400 to $500 power bills.
So they used part of their retirement and put a down payment on a solar panel system.
They’d plan to pay off the rest with monthly payments.
But because others in their neighborhood already had solar panel systems connected to the nearest transformer, the Feagins were told it would be a while before they could turn it on.
Stan says, “PG&E came back said the transformer would have to be upgraded and that’s where the nightmare started. One to two weeks turned into six months. After six months they said it could take up to a year to do it.”
So the Feagins wrote to CBS47 On Your Side.
Investigative Reporter Erik Rosales spoke with PG&E spokesman Denny Boyles.
Boyles says, “It does depend on what is already there. The process is if we decide we have to upgrade the equipment, there is no charge for customers to do that. But we have to go through the design and estimating process before we do any work.”
That takes time, a long time!
Plus PG&E admits there is a backlog.
The company claims it’s due to the amount of new construction in the state along with pole replacement repairs from recent fires and not the bankrupty.
But that also meant the Feagins would be paying two bills, their loan for solar and their PG&E bill for nearly a year.
Thankfully after CBS47 On Your Side got involved, PG&E crews found another nearby transformer to hook up to, and they are up and running.
Stan says, “If your going to say PG&E, the solar company, 47 On Your Side jumped on top of it. I’d say everybody should go to 47 On Your Side because this is how it was solved.”
So if you’re in the market for solar panels.
Experts say check with your solar company or PG&E first and get an assessment to make sure the nearest transformer can handle the load.
Also get a date from PG&E on when your solar panel system can be turned on.
Plus ask the lending company, if the solar panel system doesn’t get turned on will you get stuck with two bills? If so, get it modified to state you pay when you get turned on.