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Solar Consumer Protection Reflections and Resource Selections

September 02, 2016 by Nate Hausman

The U.S. distributed solar market has grown by leaps and bounds over the last decade. [1] Over seventy- times the residential solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity was installed in the U.S. in 2015 (2,099 MW) as was installed in 2005 (27 MW). [2] While the significant opportunities for gainful enterprise in the residential PV economy signal solar market health, they have also brought consumer-focused issues to the fore. Policymakers, regulators, advocacy groups, and the solar industry are giving increasing attention to ensuring that consumers receive accurate information and ultimately have good experiences with solar energy installation. A number of new resources are intended to help further residential solar understanding.

SEIA-cover-web

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) has put forth a Solar Consumer Protection Resource webpage with various resources focused on improving consumer transparency, reducing transaction costs, and increasing the potential for asset securitization for solar customers. SEIA’s Solar Consumer Protection Resource webpage includes:

In addition to SEIA’s consumer protection webpage, Consumer Reports has published several articles on residential solar PV:

The Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) has developed and published several clean energy protection tools designed to promote safeguards and protect the solar market. IREC’s consumer protection resources include:

In July 2016, the Federal Trade Commission conducted a full-day workshop on competition and consumer protection issues in solar energy. Video and PowerPoint slides from the workshop, titled “Something New Under the Sun,” are posted here.

Solar Financing cover.

Clean Energy States Alliance (CESA) has produced a Homeowner's Guide to Solar Financing: Leases, Loans and PPAs  to help consumers make sounds solar decisions and select the best financing option for their needs. In addition, CESA recently launched the Sustainable Solar Education Project, which provides information and educational resources to state and municipal officials on strategies to ensure that distributed solar electricity remains consumer friendly and benefits low- and moderate-income households. Through the project, CESA is publishing a free monthly e-newsletter with news and information related to solar consumer friendliness and equitability. Sign up to receive the Sustainable Solar Education Project newsletter here!

Ensuring that distributed solar PV remains consumer friendly is important to sustain the solar market’s upward trend. Increasingly, as highlighted in this blog, resources related to this topic are being published to better educate solar consumers.

*Nate Hausman is a Project Director for the Clean Energy States Alliance (CESA) where he primarily works on solar policy. Nate is an attorney licensed to practice law in California and Vermont. CESA is a national, nonprofit coalition of public agencies and organizations working together to advance clean energy. CESA is supporting the STAT Network’s efforts through outreach and promotion of the program’s technical assistance opportunities and collaboration with technical assistance delivery and program outputs.

[1] U.S. Solar Market Insight, Executive Summary, Q2 2016, GTM Research and Solar Energy Industries Association, http://www.seia.org/sites/default/files/k7bZk7JSHC2016Q2SMI.pdf.

[2] Annual Solar PV Capacity Installations in the U.S. Residential Sector from 2005 to 2015 (in Megawatts), Statista, http://www.statista.com/statistics/185694/us-residential-annual-pv-installed-capacity-since-2005/.

Tags: Resources