Rooftop solar arrays have been popping up all over Rhode Island, bringing clean energy and decentralizing generation to enrich the state’s electric resources, all while creating thousands of new jobs with dozens of solar installation companies. But like in any other rapidly expanding industry, there have been some complaints from customers who say their experiences have not been all sunshine and lower electric bills.
Rep. Deborah Ruggiero — a strong proponent of renewable energy who has sponsored laws that helped pave the way for the industry’s rise — is urging state regulators to implement consumer protection measures to ensure that Rhode Island solar customers are getting what they’re promised.
“While there are excellent opportunities and incentives that can make residential solar projects very rewarding, there are many installers doing the work now, and they are not all equal. Consumers need some assurance that the installer is offering them a product that will work for their site. They deserve an honest representation of the energy and savings their system is likely to produce. They need to know the risks, too. If companies want to benefit from our state’s incentive programs, they must be willing to adhere to good business practices that protect consumers,” said Representative Ruggiero (D-Dist. 74, Jamestown, Middletown).
She has proposed legislation (2019-H 5991) seeking to have the Office of Energy Resources adopt greater consumer protection measures for homeowners who invest in solar. She is optimistic that the adoption of a disclosure form will protect Rhode Islanders from unfair practices by installers. If not, she plans to introduce more stringent requirements, she said.