Interested In Home Solar In Connecticut? Consumers Should Read The Fine Print


George St. Amand put solar panels on the roof of his home in Enfield a few years ago. Since then, he’s run into some issues with the array in terms of it not producing power and his energy bills going up. Sept. 14, 2021 in Enfield, Conn. (Joe Amon/Connecticut Public)

For homeowners looking to put solar panels on their roofs, the main goal is usually pretty clear: saving money on electric bills. But installing solar can sometimes come with complications.

On a corner lot in Enfield, Conn., George St. Amand has a two-story house with a pretty flat roof in the back. Not great because solar panels work best at an angle. So for a while, he said solar companies kept shooting him down.

“Every time I went into, like, Home Depot or Costco or some of the other places where they have the little booths of solar people, I’d say, ‘Hey, I’m interested!’” St. Amand said. “For many, many, years, I kept getting the same story, that they couldn’t do it.”

But then, he found a company that said it could.

“They pulled up the house and they said, ‘Yeah, there’s enough pitch, we can do it.’ And I’m like, ‘Great.’” I signed up … and the agreement was I’d be paying so much a month, because it’s basically a lease.”

And those agreements? Well, they can be complicated, involving national solar companies, local contractors, and lenders. St. Amand signed a nearly 30 page contract. But he said he’s pretty satisfied with the deal, especially in the summer.

“I’m saving about $50 bucks a month over what I was during peak time,” he said. “So, I think that’s a win.”

The solar industry has been growing in Connecticut, fueled by cheaper technology and new payment models. Last year alone, more than 5,000 people installed rooftop solar panels.

But the rise has also left some homeowners vulnerable. Connecticut Public reviewed several dozen complaints filed with the Department of Consumer Protection since last year. It’s a relatively small number. But the complaints were from homeowners who said they were promised financial benefits that never materialized. Others signed contracts they didn’t fully understand.

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