Marianas variety – as solar grows on guam, consumer rights questions surface

HAGÅTÑA (The Guam Daily Post) — Guam’s number of solar energy customers has soared nearly a hundred times in less than a decade, but the industry’s fast growth has also revealed some dissatisfied consumers.

There were 14 renewable energy customers on the island in 2009, and as of 11 days ago, that total has reached 1,290, Consolidated Commission on Utilities data show.

Solar energy has become an attractive alternative to utility power in Guam, thanks to declining costs of solar photovoltaic systems and Guam Power Authority’s net metering program. Outdoor patio bars near me Under the program, GPA pays customers at retail rate for excess solar energy that a private customer’s system feeds into the power grid.

Despite its growth, eight years still make for a relatively young industry, and not all customers who signed contracts for the installation of solar panels have been problem-free.

Some of the concerns from customers have prompted the crafting of legislation, first introduced in the previous set of senators, to add a layer of protection from customers who do opt for solar energy contracts.

Consumer Peter Brennan entered into a power purchase agreement, or PPA, with Sunnova Energy Corp., through Sunnova’s local partner, Micronesia Renewable Energy Inc.

While Brennan is generally content with his system, he pointed out two outstanding issues with the arrangement: He had not been informed of a production guarantee in his contract, and he has yet to receive a battery storage system promised to him by an MRE salesman.

“They should be upfront with everyone,” Brennan said. Fantasy football 2016 rankings “I should have gotten it in writing when the (salesman) said batteries were free of charge because they can always say that’s not part of the deal.”

On the issue of “production guarantee,” a consumer benefits if it’s spelled out in his or her contract, regardless of which business sold the solar energy system — if the system produces more solar power than what was agreed to, the customer would keep those savings and not have to pay extra.

And if the system falls short of the guaranteed production, it would serve the customer’s interest to get a specific language in the contract that the solar business provider would rectify any shortfall, according to solar industry experts.

“MRE will need to examine the economies of scale prior to making a decision on the viability of offering the additional equipment. Softball sayings Upon completing our testing phase, if we are confident in offering batteries, then we will install, maintain and insure such batteries at no cost to our existing and future customers,” Voacolo said.

Stakeholders within the solar industry have also called for greater accountability from companies that pitch to customers who may not be fully aware of the intricacies of solar PPA contracts.

Bill Hagen, director of Pacific Solar, said there is a need to protect against “predatory sales people” selling renewable energy products customers are not familiar with.

These remarks were made at the outset of an October 2016 roundtable discussion on Bill 355-33, a measure introduced by Sen. Pinch hitter game Frank Aguon that was intended to establish a bill of rights for renewable energy customers.

“Because it’s an industry that just started up very recently on island, we need to provide some bill of rights, and also work with these businesses so that they provide (necessary information) and that it always comes back to consumers knowing what they’re purchasing.”

Guam’s Consumer Protection Act outlines when the attorney general can seek legal action against a merchant. Spring training florida In general, this includes any misleading or deceptive acts on the part of the merchant.

Aguon’s measure introduces specific requirements, such as the customer’s right to be educated on all aspects of a PPA or lease. Jain irrigation news The bill offers to amend the consumer protection act.

The proposed language would make deceptive solar power contracts a violation of the customer bill of rights, and would make such violation a cause for legal action.

The solar industry on Guam is largely supported by outside investment, whether in the form of utility grade solar power — such as the case with the Dandan solar farm that opened in 2015 — or with residential photovoltaic systems. Baseball scores Federal tax credits that offset up to 30 percent of the cost of the solar energy system have been a major contributing factor to the growth of the industry.

The Houston-based Sunnova Energy Corp. Fantasy sports new york is one of the largest solar businesses on island — with more than 850 solar installations, according to permit data from the Department of Public Works.

In a PPA, the customer pays no upfront cost to use a solar photovoltaic system, but pays a monthly fee to a contracted entity, which normally increases through an annual escalator. Washington softball schedule Moreover, the customer may be contractually obligated to remit any tax credits, rebates or other incentives they would have received, to the business that provided the system.

James Casallo is an independent consultant and electrical engineer who works with various local renewable energy companies to design systems for their customers. Facebook live notifications Casallo said consumers need to be educated on the systems they’re purchasing, and the long-term agreements they’re entering into.

The rate of return on investment for a solar energy system, and how long it will take to own the equipment if under a lease or PPA, are some aspects that customers should educate themselves about, Casallo said.

Emma Quiblat would have been a solar energy customer in 2015. Pervious concrete She didn’t push through after having found out she may have had to put up her home as collateral if she could not make agreed-upon payments. Lattice method That crucial piece of information wasn’t disclosed during a salesman’s pitch, she said.

Joanne Toledo, another would-be solar energy customer, said she had been approached by MRE with a solar PPA from Sunnova last year. Football field background However, after her brother calculated what their payments would be, they discovered that they would have paid more in the long term than if they continued to use only GPA power. What is pitchfork This was due to the annual escalator in the PPA, she said.

When consumers are told that GPA power would continue to go up, they might be convinced to sign up for solar with the expectation of savings that aren’t certain.

“We’re seeing that some of the representations need to be verified and they shouldn’t be making non-factual representations to people while they’re trying to convince them to buy a $30,000 solar system or to sign a 20- to 25-year PPA,” Sanchez said.

“Some of these agreements show that (the consumers’ cost of solar energy) will rise to over 30 cents a kWh in the last 10 years of those agreements. Football online games Does the consumer know that?”

While some have levied complaints, either publicly or in the confidence of a senatorial office, the Consumer Protection Division of the Office of the Attorney General did not have a record of complaints on MRE or other solar companies.