FOCUS investigators found that Louisville had issued corrective actions for solar projects at 30 properties in Louisville. What you need to know before signing up for solar.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Louisville is moving towards a goal of using 100% clean energy by 2040, one solar panel at a time.
On Friday, a solar system was installed on a home in Louisville as part of the “Solar Over Louisville” campaign launched by the Louisville Metro Government and the Louisville Sustainability Council.
The city has partnered with Solar Energy Solutions to offer incentives for homeowners to switch to solar power.
The company has been audited, the city says, but we found that the work done by at least one other company is not so stellar.
“I think right now we’re starting to see some bad actors in the solar scene,” said Steve Ricketts, Technical Advisor for the Solar Over Louisville Project.
FOCUS found that at least one company began working in the metro and other parts of Kentucky without first obtaining the proper permits.
The Kentucky Attorney General’s Office, along with AGs in Tennessee and Georgia, are investigating dozens of customer complaints.
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John: “Do you think there’s a real chance that there are systems that are not only up to snuff, but can be dangerous?”
Ricketts: “I think so, yes.”
Complaints include panels on the roof for months, but no power generation as the systems have not passed inspection and are therefore not operational.
At the same time, customers pay their monthly bills while continuing to pay their electricity bills.
Problems also exist in Louisville, where corrective action has been taken for at least 30 properties.
“We’re just starting to realize that and that’s why I wanted to be at the forefront of this thing,” said Metropolitan Councilor (R) Robin Engel.
Louisville’s lofty goal is for power generation here to be 100% clean energy within the next 20 years.
Another goal is for half of metro homes to use solar energy by 2050.
It’s a big job, and a job that needs to be done right.
“I’ve seen other installations over the past few years that would cause me serious concern,” Ricketts explained.
On Saturday, the Kentucky Solar Energy Society will host presentations from industry experts from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Ekstrom Library at the University of Louisville.
The Louisville Office of Advanced Planning and Sustainability said from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. there will be a presentation specifically on “solar scams.” The entire event is free and anyone can attend.
For more information, visit https://kyses.org/.
Here are some tips for those looking to buy solar panel systems:
- Be sure to check out the potential solar company before committing and signing a contract. Search reviews and social media to see current customer experiences. Make sure they have filed the proper paperwork and are in good standing with the office of the Kentucky Secretary of State. Click here to search.
- Get multiple quotes to compare all your options.
- Check with your utility company to find out how much power you’re using so you don’t pay for a system that’s more or less than you need.
- Ask that all the terms of the contract be reviewed before signing a contract. Be sure to read each line carefully and ask questions if you don’t understand.
- If you are financing the purchase, be sure to explore several financing options. Consider taking out a home equity loan.
- Make sure you know what permits are needed by calling your local planning and zoning and/or code enforcement offices. There may be additional requirements if you live within the city limits.
- Consider additional costs that may be required to maximize potential energy production. For example, you may need to prune some trees. If the panels are placed on the roof, additional structural work may be required to support the weight of the panels.
- Prior to any installation work, check with local authorities to ensure the proper permits have been obtained, even if the seller has stated that they take care of all permits for you.
- Ask for the name and contact information of all contractors and check with the city, county and/or state to make sure they have the proper license.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) also offers consumer tips and other things you might consider when looking to invest in solar energy.
Counties participating in the Solar Over Louisville campaign include:
Kentucky: Louisville/Jefferson County, Oldham County, Shelby County, Spencer County, Bullitt County, Trimble County, Henry County, Hardin County, Meade County, Nelson County
Indiana: Floyd County, Clark County, Harrison County, Washington County, Scott County
The campaign offers discounted solar energy products.
The deadline to register is June 30. Register here.
RELATED: Solar Company Responds After FOCUS Inquiry
How to choose a solar installer:
How to report a problem:
If you have concerns about a product or service, you should file a complaint or report the issues to several agencies.
- File a complaint with your state attorney general’s office. In Kentucky, you can file a complaint online or call the Consumer Protection Division at (502) 696-5389.
- Contact Kentucky Public Safety at 502-782-2736.
- Contact your county and/or city officials to report issues and get additional guidance and resources.
- If you live in Louisville and believe the work was not done to code or without the proper permits, contact Metro 311.
Got a story tip? Contact the FOCUS investigation team at [email protected].
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