Scammers cast shadow on NM solar industry - Albuquerque Journal

Scammers cast shadow on NM solar industry

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

Deceptive marketing by some is casting a shadow over New Mexico’s booming solar industry, entrapping local homeowners in costly, long-term contracts that don’t generate the benefits promised by some rooftop installation firms.

The Journal has found it’s a growing problem, fed by a competitive scramble to gain market share among mostly out-of-state solar companies that frequently promise to wipe away customers’ utility bills with solar systems they claim will immediately save 30% or more on monthly electric costs.

Business leaders say the actions of a few are tarnishing the solar industry as a whole.

The problem has grown serious enough to encourage the city of Albuquerque to launch a “solar panel awareness campaign” to educate homeowners about different types of solar contracts and what to look for when salespeople knock on their door.

Door-to-door sales teams canvass neighborhoods with aggressive pitches to sign up uninformed homeowners for 20- or 25-year contracts that later don’t produce the promised savings and often end up costing more than the consumer previously paid the local utility company.

“Going solar can be a great win-win to save on energy and protect the environment,” Mayor Tim Keller said in a statement when announcing the campaign. “Sadly, we’ve also heard about some unfair, deceptive schemes that can turn a well-meaning act into a nightmare for hard-working Albuquerque homeowners. This initiative will help empower our residents to protect themselves and choose the right deal.”

Turn to today’s Business Outlook to read about local homeowners who signed deals that quickly went south, reactions by local business leaders and efforts by local government and business organizations to educate the public and better protect consumers.

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