Solar Scammers On The Prowl

Solar energy scams

Solar shysters are reportedly doing the rounds in Echuca, Victoria, and across the border in New South Wales an elderly woman had her purse stolen by a fake solar salesperson.

First to Victoria, where the Riverine Herald reports a shifty solar salesperson attempted to get an Echuca solar power system owner to participate in some feed-in tariff dodginess.

The home already had solar panels installed and the owner was still benefiting from the legacy Victorian solar feed-in tariff.  Victorians who applied to install rooftop solar from late 2009 to the end of 2011 were able to secure a whopping feed-in tariff of 60 cents a kilowatt-hour, a rate that applies until 2024.

One of the conditions of keeping the 60c feed-in tariff is extra solar panels cannot be added to these systems. If that occurs, the FiT is reduced to whatever the current rate is, which is 12 cents per kilowatt- hour minimum (single rate).

According to the Echuca homeowner, a solar salesperson visiting his house said he could add an extra seven panels for $4,000. Given this would likely be only around 2.5kW at best, it was pretty pricey for starters. It wasn’t mentioned if this involved an inverter upgrade, or this perhaps being a separate system.

What was certainly on the nose was the salesperson also allegedly stated the customer could keep his higher feed-in tariff as long as his distributed network service provider wasn’t informed of the additional panels – a pretty ridiculous claim to make. The good news is the homeowner tweaked to the shonkiness and didn’t proceed.

The take-home message from this situation is that if you’re being sold solar power and something doesn’t feel right – go with your instincts.

Solar Scoundrel Swindles Senior

Over the border in New South Wales, an 86 year old woman was recently the victim of a fake solar salesperson.

Lake Illawarra Police allege the woman had her purse stolen earlier this month after letting a man claiming to be a solar panel salesman inside her Oak Flats home.

There’s more good news here with police arresting a 30-year-old man in connection to the incident last Thursday, who was charged with three counts of obtain financial advantage by deception. It’s great he was caught, but what an awful experience for the woman to have been subjected to.

While the perpetrator may not have anything to do with the solar industry, it’s just another good reason to be very wary of door-to-door solar sales, or door-to-door anything for that matter.

Pick up some tips on how to find a good solar installer, part of the Good Solar Guide – free to read online in its entirety.

About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.

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