I’m angry.I get a lot of emails asking for me to look over quotes. I try to
answer every one. Some times it takes a couple of weeks to reply, but generally I manage to reply.
Tonight I got 3 emails in a row with quotes from 3 separate companies which all appeared to be trying the same trick. They appear to be deceiving the customer into thinking they are getting a great deal and then hitting them with a bill for thousands more than the quoted price when the system is installed.
I love the solar industry, and to see these guys operating like this makes me so freaking angry I want to scream!
Ladies and Gentlemen, tonight I present to you THE INFLATED STC PRICE SCAM…
In a nutshell:They quote a low price based on a $40 STC price, then they use the current (much lower) rebate prices to jack up your final price.
How to Foil ”The Inflated STC Price”
Remember that the amount of rebate that you get is based on the price of a thing called an STC certificate, which changes from day to day, just like stock prices can.
Read the contract carefully to find out what STC price the total system price is based on. You can see today’s STC price here.
If they are quoting a $40 STC price then alarm bells should start to ring. At time of writing (April 2012) the STC price is $28. It hasn’t been $40 for years. $40 is the government mandated maximum price that STC will be capped at if they ever go that high (unlikely).
If they are quoting based on a $40 STC price you can be almost certain that the STC price quoted is not guaranteed.
What does that mean? Well let’s go through the quote I am looking at now for a 1.5kW system:
RECS DISCOUNT ( 94 @ 40.00 ) – Zone 3
Unit Price $-40.00
Total Rebate: $-3,760
If the system is installed next week, the solar “company” will be lucky to get $27 for the STCs from the aggregator.
So the rebate will only be 94 STCs @ $27 = $2,538
That is $1,222 less than the rebate used to calculate the quoted price.
So you are in all likelihood going to have $1,222 added to your invoice. Surprise!
And if you are looking at a bigger system the discrepancy could be many thousands of dollars.
I’m not saying that all installers who don’t guarantee their STC price are cowboys. Some installers will guarantee the STC price in the quote, some won’t. It is the ones that knowingly quote $40 when they know the current STC price is a lot lower that are the ones to watch out for.
But if they don’t guarantee the STC price then the good guys will be totally upfront and transparent that the final amount payable may go up (or down) based on the STC price on the day of the install. No hide the salami!
If paying a fixed price is important to you – then you should choose an installer who guarantees the STC price quoted. If there is any doubt then don’t be afraid to circle the price in pen and add the comment ‘This contract is signed for this fixed price only’. And remember to keep a copy!