The N.C. Sustainable Energy Association recently headed up the creation for the first ever code of professional conduct for solar installers who contract with residential and commercial clients for full-service solar projects.
As reported in the Charlotte Business Journal Duke Energy is running rebate program from 2018-2022 that’s offering savings on projects for eligible customers. Renu Energy Solutions joins with several other members of the organization of sustainable energy businesses to establish baseline professional codes for the industry.
Mike Davis, Director of membership for the Raleigh-based NCSEA, says: “A code of professional conduct is a good thing for any industry. But we have seen an influx of new players in the market (after Duke offered the rebates) and that gave us a sense of urgency.”
Who’s chasing the incentives?
When Duke Energy rolled out solar rebates this past spring — mandated by last year’s Competitive Energy Solutions for NC Act — North Carolina notably jumped back up into the top-tier market for residential and commercial solar.
But evidently, a lot of installers who were not in North Carolina previously are getting on the scene now because of local incentives provided through the utility. Installers native to the area are looking to be vigilant and make sure that newcomers can be held accountable for practices that consumers don’t like and shouldn’t have to deal with, which according to the Charlotte Business Journal’s reporting include “high-pressure sales, over-promising on incentives that don’t come through, overselling potential savings and, in some cases, doing shoddy workmanship.”
Ensuring integrity and quality, together
From this point on, NCSEA will not accept new members or retain existing members who do not adhere to the professional conduct described in the code. “We want to be able to assure the public that our members are upholding the highest standards in the industry,” he says. Renu Energy Solutions and other signatories pledge to refrain from deceptive or misleading advertising, never refer to renewable energy as “free” when it isn’t, or to inflate the impact of future rate increases by utilities to solar seem more attractive.
At Renu Energy Solutions in Charlotte, which has grown in recent years to employ 30 people at our Charlotte and Jamestown offices, we’ve by and large heard few reports of solar companies preying on customers’ lack of knowledge. The solar ecosystem here is filled with high-quality firms. But in light of the 60 cents per watt rebate for residential solar, perhaps this code of conduct is overdue or at least well-timed. These incentives can lure all kinds of solar players and we hope to consumers can feel confident choosing someone who’s a part of this code of conduct. We know that any time one person or company has a bad experience with a solar installer, it’s a detriment to all of us.
The right standards for solar in NC
Where did these standards come from? NCSEA and its members reviewed codes of conduct from other states, including in particular South Carolina and California, to develop some initial proposals. Through meetings and conversations with its 27 solar installation and financing members, the group made refinements until the companies finally adopted it. Look at it for yourself and learn what it means to abide by the NC solar installers’ code.