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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Satisfied Customers: 118238
Experience:  Attorney experienced in commercial litigation.
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A couple of years ago we leased solar panels with Solar City

Customer Question

Hi, A couple of years ago we leased solar panels with Solar City for 20 years. Our city offered a very good incentive to get them (paid to the solar company, not to us) and knowing we would be staying in our house for a very long time, we paid $4,000 to buy down the rate we would pay the solar company. We figured it would take about 9 years to recoup the money and then for the next 11 years we would be saving a significant amount.
For the first two or three months, everything was great! Whatever we used was 100% offset by what we produced and if we over produced, we would get a credit each month.If we under produced, we paid the difference.
Then things took a bad turn. The city got new meters and said they were unable to determine our exact production, so they began charging us as if we didn't even have solar panels. They have a tier system, so if you exceed 500kW, that excess goes into tier 2 rates and if you exceed that tier, it goes to tier 3 and so on. So now if we use 800kW a month but produce 900, we have to pay tiered rates for that 800 and get a measly credit for the excess 100, which doesn't even amount to what we are paying the solar company! Not only are we having to pay the utility company for electricity we are producing, the measly credit we get each month doesn't even come close to the $46 we pay the solar company for the lease! We are getting hosed.
We feel this was a total bait and switch situation and talking the utility company is futile. I am so frustrated! Any help would be greatly appreciated!
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking for educational purposes only.
What does your contract say about 1) cancellation clause and 2) about the rates and ability to change rates, since that is what you will be bound to?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I will have to look into that. Our beef isn't with the solar company, it is with our utility company. They are the ones that offered these great incentives to go solar and then changed the rules after we had committed. Is there anything we can do as far as they are concerned?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Also, I don't remember signing any contract with the utility company. I think they only thing they were involved with was having an inspector come out once the panels were installed.
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your reply.
If the contract does not guarantee rates, your only recourse is to file an appeal to the public utilities commission, who regulates these rates and seek to get them to rule that the rate is unreasonable. If the PUC denies your appeal, the only way to fight it is in court proving that the rates are contrary to the law or your contract. If there are others in this situation, then your attorney would make the suit a class action on the behalf of all solar panel owners.