Avoid Solar PV Scams
Tips for Avoiding Scams and Selecting a Contractor
As the solar industry in the Austin area has grown, deceptive or fraudulent sales tactics have also increased. A solar photovoltaic (PV) installation is a big investment, and you want to make sure you select a reputable solar contractor to complete your installation.
Be Aware of Scams
Austin Energy has received reports of customers paying exorbitant prices for solar systems packaged with other energy improvements, or with predatory financing terms. We have also heard reports of salespeople misrepresenting themselves as Austin Energy employees when visiting customers door-to-door, or making claims about state policies or incentives that just don’t exist. Others try to get you to sign a contract when they first meet you.
How to Spot a Solar Scam
The scammer promises an immediate roof inspection, pushes a contract — If someone comes to your
door, says they can assess your roof that day to give you an estimate on solar panels, asks to come inside and/or
shows you a contract on the spot, stop the conversation.
- Installing a solar system is a big decision, and anyone pushing you this much is suspicious.
The scammer claims that Austin Energy sells solar — If someone selling solar tells you they work
for Austin Energy, that they represent Austin Energy or they are a “preferred” company for Austin Energy, they are
not telling you the truth.
- Austin Energy does not sell solar panels, at all. Check Austin Energy’s list of participating contractors when you want to ensure the installer follows Austin Energy’s Code of Conduct and Ethical Requirements to sell you solar.
The scammer makes extreme, unbelievable claims — If someone says you can go off-grid by installing
solar or that you will not receive electric bills anymore, they are trying to trick you.
- Every Austin Energy solar customer is part of the electric grid and receives electric bills.
The scammer gives you false incentive information — If someone says you can get net metering from Austin Energy
and/or that Austin Energy will pay for your solar, they are not telling you the facts.
- Austin Energy pays qualifying residential customers a $2,500 rebate and credits solar customers for the energy their home solar panels produce through the Value of Solar reflected on the electric bill.
What Austin Energy Provides
Austin Energy offers rebates and incentives for qualifying customers installing solar at home or at a business. To qualify for a rebate, you must work with one of Austin Energy's participating contractors.
Only these participating contractors are authorized to help you access Austin Energy's solar rebates. You can only receive Austin Energy solar rebates if you contract through one of these participating companies.
Solar PV Sales Calls or Door-to-Door Sales
What should you do if someone calls or comes to your door and tries to sell you a solar installation?
- If you are interested in solar, feel free to talk with the salesperson. Learn which questions to ask a solar contractor through our free education course.
- If the salesperson seems overly aggressive, pressures you to sign agreements without your full review, or
otherwise makes you feel uncomfortable:
- Pause and ask for a business card
- If you are truly interested in speaking with them again, tell them you will follow up
- Or, simply tell them you’re not interested
- Ask them to leave
- Email Austin Energy if you have questions or concerns
Ask for Identification
If someone is representing themselves as an Austin Energy or City of Austin employee or representative, you should always ask to see their identification badge. If they cannot produce their badge, ask for a business card or name and contact information. You can verify either of these forms of identification by emailing Austin Energy’s solar team or by calling 512-482-5346.
Do Your Homework
Before signing a contract, always check our list of participating solar contractors, read online reviews, and ask for customer references.
We recommend that you get at least three bids from our participating solar contractors to ensure you are receiving competitive prices, and that the work, rebates and final inspections are approved by Austin Energy.
Make sure you are comfortable with your contractor, understand what you are purchasing and understand the costs and financing terms if applicable.
Check out Austin Energy’s solar education course to learn about the entire buying process. Available 24/7, the interactive course walks you through:
- How to shop for solar and what is involved
- How to earn a rebate from Austin Energy
- How to design and size your system
- What common solar terms and phrases you may hear
- How shade impacts solar panels
- How battery storage works with solar panels
- What questions to ask solar contractors
- What to consider if you need to finance your solar project
If You Have Questions or Concerns
If you believe that a fraudulent solar company has approached you, or simply have questions about solar, please call Austin Energy Customer Energy Solutions at 512-482-5346.
A representative can verify participating contractors and provide information about rebates, expected savings from solar or other solar technology questions.
If you suspect a scam, you can also file a complaint online with the Consumer Protection Division of the Texas Attorney General’s office or give them a call at 512-463-2185.
Visit these additional resources to become more familiar with Austin Energy’s solar incentives, and information for consumers.