In their October 2012 issue, Consumer Reports investigates "Scamnation" - which includes an investigation of the solar industry. The investigation includes some very good points; however, we disagree with some of the statements that were made. The following is SALT Service, Inc's response to the article:
Good points were made in the October article "Scamnation". Concerning solar, our company, SALT Service Inc. , located in the Florida Keys, has been in the solar business for over 20 years. As a state licensed contractor, we are equally concerned about the lack of integrity associated with substandard product, thumbnail engineering and incompetent workmanship. This only adds to the challenge of designing for corrosion and 180 mph wind code, further pushing the disparity between the cost of a well engineered system and one that is sold simply on dollars per watt. However, you did your readers a disservice implying that purchasing a solar system is the equivalent of 30 - 40 years worth of electricity in advance. Solar system prices have decreased by 26% from 2009 to 2010 and then another 11% in the first half of 2011, so your calculations are not reflective of current costs. When you couple that with a 30% Federal Investment Tax Credit and possible state or local utility rebates, most solar systems can show an ROI of 6 - 8% and a pay back in less than 12 years. Consumers purchase vehicles at similar costs to solar systems then pay for fuel, maintenance and suffer depreciation of the car's value from the first day of purchase. Solar systems are warranted for 25 years, require little to no maintenance and reduce your electric bills.
We agree that there are scam agents out there and we have been called to repair several systems installed by out-of-towners who are now out of business. Consumers should carefully consider the location of any home improvement vendor.
Finally, to your suggestion to pay no more than 10% or $1000 up front, we cannot even get an engineered plan to submit for a building permit for under $1000, so a down payment must be sufficient to pay for the engineering and site specific equipment. We appreciate your diligence in watching out for unscrupulous business practices in the solar industry, please feel free to contact us for any further insights.
SALT Service, Inc.