AUSTIN (KXAN) — As more and more Austinites consider installing solar systems on their homes, Austin Energy is issuing a warning that there is a company out there making fraudulent claims regarding the sales of solar systems.
Austin Energy says they’ve received reports that some individuals are posing as Austin Energy employees and they’re going door-to-door, as well as making phone calls, selling solar installations—neither of which the city-owned utility actually does. While AE does have a solar incentive program which provides rebates for customers, the program only uses registered companies for the installations.
“As solar prices have come down and solar has become more mainstream, the industry has grown rapidly and is starting to attract companies looking to make a quick buck,” said Danielle Murray, Austin Energy Solar Manager in a press release. “There are many good companies out there that will play by the rules and are passionate about solar for all the right reasons. But there are others, unfortunately, that will take advantage of customers.”
The City of Austin says they have issued a cease and desist letter to an out-of-state company for making fraudulent and misleading statements to Austin Energy customers. The city also plans to notify the Texas Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division for potential action regarding the company’s deceptive trade practices.
There have also been cases where some customers are paying exorbitant prices for solar systems packaged with other energy improvements or with predatory financing terms.
If you’re in the market for a solar system, AE recommends that customers get at least three bids from Austin Energy incentive program participating companies to ensure they are receiving competitive prices and that the work, rebates and final inspections are approved by Austin Energy. Customers can also call Austin Energy at 512-482-5346 to inquire about participating companies and rebates, expected savings from solar or technology questions.
Solar energy is becoming big business in Texas. The state’s solar capacity is already in the top 10 in the nation, and is expected to double this year, which would make it the fastest-growing utility-scale solar market in the U.S. Recently, Austin received the gold designation from the U.S. Department of Energy for making it easier for businesses and residents to get solar energy.