DES MOINES, Iowa — With energy prices rising year over year, consumers are looking to switch to solar; something that now makes Iowans vulnerable to scams.
The Iowa Attorney General’s Office is investigating 15 companies involved in installing solar panels in the state. The investigation is ongoing due to the massive amount of consumer complaints this year.
Complaints per year:
- 2019 – 5
- 2020 – 3
- 2021 – 7
- 2022 – 40
The complaints relate to in-state and out-of-state businesses. The Attorney General’s office is warning consumers about misleading ads that are costing people thousands of dollars.
“Sometimes people see these ads online, sometimes they hear about them and they’re going to drop $10,000, that’s common,” said Lynn Hicks, chief of staff for the Iowa attorney general. “And that’s one of the first things we advise against is paying money before the work is done.”
Some people are even on the hook for $20,000 to $30,000 according to Hicks.
Here is the list of companies the office is investigating and the number of complaints received for each:
|NUMBER OF COMPLAINTS
|blue sky alternative energy
|Green energy technology
|Reliable Iowa Construction
|Solar Action Alliance
|Wind and solar specialists
The state of Iowa has a tax credit program that Governor Reynolds signed in June. This would allow old applications to be considered again and new people to apply. But the claims promised in these ads couldn’t be further from the truth.
“We hear that you are going to be guaranteed to get tax credits for your solar investment and there is absolutely no guarantee of that, as it is a state run program that has become very popular,” Hicks said.
It’s not just the attorney general’s office that has seen companies rip off Iowans.
“It’s disgusting. What they do is simple, a salesperson walks in and all they care about is your signature on a piece of paper,” said Nicholas Ashton, president of RFusion. based in the UK who plans to build a factory in Iowa Ashton manufactures solar panels and some of these subcontractors selling under false pretences have contacted him to sell his panels, which Ashton will not do.
“Why do they keep saying, ‘if you’re spending more than $99 on your electric bill, we can help you,'” Ashton said. “They’re going to pay $350 a month for solar power? It’s ridiculous.”
Hicks said the purpose of the surveys was to save consumers as much money as possible. He also added that you should contact the Attorney General’s office if you have been contacted or have done business with any of these companies. You can file the complaint on the Attorney General’s website or call 515-281-5926.