Buyer Beware

“If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is” and “buyer beware” are both old clichés that we have all heard from our elders at some point in our lives. Well, when it comes to buying a small home solar system, we have members finding out that the sage advice should still be heeded today.

There is a vendor hawking home solar systems to Cherryland members that for legal reasons needs to remain nameless in this column. However, the problems that members are encountering warrant a strong warning to everyone.

First, this vendor is NOT anyone who resides in our region. Our region boasts many local installers of home solar systems that are reputable, legitimate and doing honest work with products that bring claimed results. The vendor I am talking about operates on a statewide and national basis like the snake oil peddlers of eons ago.

This entity is sitting down in member homes and making promises that simply are not and will not come true. They are promising solar production and a payback on your investment that is only designed to make a sale. The promises are not based in a reality that involves Cherryland’s actual rates or the region’s actual solar production.

You can find a YouTube video of the company CEO claiming that snow, clouds and generally gloomy days will not have any impact on the solar production of their panels. Any solar installer with an ounce of integrity will tell you that solar production will be limited during our long winter days. They will base the majority of projected returns on the other nine months of the year.

We have members telling us that once the salesman is inside their home, the pitch is relentless. Their goal is to not leave without making a sale because they don’t want to come back. Their business model is based on getting a commitment and moving on to dupe someone else. The honest vendors in our area don’t mind coming back or letting you think about your decision. It is easy for them to follow up because they live here.

The online reviews for the snake oil vendor are great. They encourage their potential customers to look at all the happy customer comments on the web. Please don’t fall for this trick. Ask for the names and numbers of real people within your home county who are using the product. The fly-by-night companies are promising gift cards for good online reviews. Then, after the review is completed, the gift cards are rarely seen.

In other columns, Cherryland has talked about the advantages of large-scale solar projects. I still stand by all the advantages and success of utility-scale installations. However, I also care about every member and am fully aware of the desire of some to have solar on their home. This column should not discourage that desire in any way. My goal today is to simply give members warning that not every vendor can be trusted.

If you are considering installing solar on your home, feel free to call Cherryland’s Energy Use Advisor, Tammy Squires. She is available to you at no cost and can explain our various programs and help you evaluate any proposals you are considering.

Please heed the warning of “buyer beware” and take the time to do your homework. We have a great network of trustworthy vendors in our region. Please seek them out and don’t buy the “eliminate-all-future-electric-bills” promises that some are selling. Your pocketbook will appreciate it and your parents will be happy you remembered the old advice.

Need help choosing the right solar installer for your home? Click here to learn more!

By |2019-04-30T10:17:44-04:00March 25th, 2019|Manager's Column, Michigan Country Lines, Solar|16 Comments

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  1. Jesse April 1, 2019 at 1:23 pm - Reply

    In my opinion Cherryland has the legal responsability to disclose the name of the company committing fraud or face charges themselves and legal action from it’s customers.

    • Jill April 1, 2019 at 5:33 pm - Reply

      He states for legal reasons the company has to remain nameless in this column. He also gives info so that you can do a Google search yourself and determine the company. However I am sure if you call Cherryland and ask they can give you the info you want.

    • Bart April 1, 2019 at 5:44 pm - Reply

      You a lawyer?

      • Chuck April 1, 2019 at 6:57 pm - Reply

        You got your answer “Jesse”

    • Craig April 1, 2019 at 5:59 pm - Reply

      They are not associated with the company commiting this crime and could more than likely be brought up on charges if they named the company. It is not even thier responsibility to inform any of us about this, but they did.

    • Chuck April 1, 2019 at 8:21 pm - Reply

      Jesse, your opinion of the law and $4.00 will get you a cup of coffee at 7-11.

  2. Rick Bowman April 1, 2019 at 5:45 pm - Reply

    Ever heard “don’t look a gift horse in the mourh?”
    We have been warned.
    Thanks Tony

  3. Carmen Svalstad April 1, 2019 at 6:13 pm - Reply

    Thanks Tony for the warning. I have seen their ads. Companies like these prey on us older folks

  4. Dkr April 1, 2019 at 6:23 pm - Reply

    Solar energy is snake oil

  5. Mike April 1, 2019 at 6:56 pm - Reply

    Really appreciate the heads up. Thank you

  6. Mike April 1, 2019 at 7:51 pm - Reply

    Thanks Tony. I am an electrical contractor , electrical inspector and solar advocate with 40 years of experience.hiring local experts will bring the accountability that is needed, and problems should be addressed to code officials when warranted.
    There are indeed plenty of quality firms right here.

  7. Robert Franzo April 2, 2019 at 1:52 am - Reply

    Excellent heads up and contect Tony and thank you for the link to the Cherryland Electric Coop resource.

  8. Tim Joseph April 2, 2019 at 2:00 am - Reply

    I love my electric cooperative, and I also think the leadership should rethink their miserly net metering policy. Paying below wholesale price for home-produced electricity does not encourage people in the Cherryand community to invest in solar power production. It discourages them. I’m not saying the cooperative should pay retail price, but something reasonably in between. I agree with Tony that large-scale solar is also essential to produce the electricity we all need here. It doesn’t have to be either/or.

    • Tony Anderson April 2, 2019 at 10:48 am - Reply

      Our net metering price is our avoided cost of power (i.e. wholesale). We subsidized net metering for almost 15 years. Every subsidy has a beginning and an ending. Anyone can put solar on their home and achieve full retail by using the renewable energy inside the home and not putting it out onto the grid. Batteries are an option as well. I know they are expensive but so is using the grid as an individual’s substitute for a battery when it is subsidized by every other member. I realize these are arguments that you have heard before but they remain valid. I appreciate your kind words about your cooperative. Thanks for taking the time to post on this blog.

  9. Joe Ambrosi April 3, 2019 at 12:04 pm - Reply

    Tony. Thank you so much for this article. Has Cherryland Electric ever thought of vetting various solar companies and recommend the legit ones? I know this would end up affecting your bottom line but for the overall good to the climate and local workers in the solar industry it might be a consideration.

    • Tony Anderson April 3, 2019 at 12:42 pm - Reply

      We aren’t worried about the bottom line where this issue is involved. I am more worried about the wasted time when a vendor might not agree with our recommendations/opinions. Our time is best spent doing what we do today. You call us with a vendor name and we tell you what our experience has been with that vendor. We have no problem being open and honest in that scenario. Anyone can call our office at 486-9200, ask for Energy Use Advisor Tammy Squires, Member Relations Manager Rachel Johnson or myself and get our experience/opinion on anyone we have worked with over the years. Thanks for the question and positive comments on the article.

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