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NM House wants more disclosure on solar-energy sales

SANTA FE — The state House passed a bill late Tuesday aimed at protecting New Mexico homeowners from unscrupulous companies selling solar-power systems.

Supporters made it clear that they want to target only the bad actors in the industry — not the smaller, local companies that deal with their customers honestly.

“We want to make sure we protect this industry, so they have a good reputation,” said Rep. Carl Trujillo, D-Santa Fe.

The measure won bipartisan support on a 56-6 vote and now heads to the Senate, which, in turn, has already approved a similar measure.

House Bill 199, sponsored by Rep. Debbie Rodella, an Española Democrat, calls for written disclosures explaining how the financing of the solar-energy system will work and what promises about future performance are guaranteed.

Tuesday’s vote came after the House heard stories about high-pressure sales pitches and inaccurate advertising by out-of-state companies.

Local solar companies supported the measure, Rodella said, because they already comply with the proposed requirements.

Some Democrats opposed the bill, arguing that it didn’t go far enough to help homeowners who enter into 20- or 30-year financing plans.

And some argued that it went too far in regulating solar panels when they’re bought with cash, not financed.