Wednesday, 12 June 2024

CSLB warns consumers to be cautious of misleading and illegal solar advertisements

Above are images of the front and back of an actual illegal advertisement recently mailed out in Sonoma County. This piece is misleading because it suggests solar will be free by claiming there are no out-of-pocket expenses. There are no programs in California that offer solar installation and solar-generated electricity for free.

SACRAMENTO — The Contractors State License Board, or CSLB, is warning consumers around the state about misleading and possibly illegal advertisements being distributed by way of door flyers, door-to-door salespersons, and direct mail (see enclosed example in this release). These advertisements could lead to solar and other contracting scams.

The scams often resulting from these types of advertisements can be financially devastating to homeowners. They usually involve contractors who use high-pressure sales tactics to convince homeowners to sign contracts for work they may not be able to afford, or under the pretext there will be no cost to them.

The enclosed example falsely implies that Senate Bill (SB) 100 requires the federal government and PG&E provide solar for consumers “with no out of pocket expense.”

SB 100 (among other things) requires renewable energy and zero-carbon resources supply 100 percent of electricity retail sales to end-use customers by 2045. SB 100 does not provide consumers with free solar.

Homeowners may lose thousands of dollars by entering into a contract for a solar system that is significantly overpriced, they cannot afford, or obtain a loan that pays the contractor directly for work that may not be performed or completed.

In response to this issue, CSLB recommends that consumers take the time to carefully research any contractor they consider hiring. They should check the contractor's license status on the CSLB website to be sure it is active and there are no pending complaints. Consumers should also get at least three bids for any work they are considering, ask contractors for references, and never agree to contractual or lending terms that are not in writing or they do not understand.

"Consumers need to be careful when considering any home improvement project, including solar installations," said CSLB Registrar David Fogt. "It is important to take the time to fully understand the contract terms and any payment obligations to avoid becoming the victim of a scam."

CSLB encourages consumers to report any illegal advertisements by filing an Advertising Complaint. CSLB also provides information to consumers considering solar on its Solar Smart page.

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