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Down the Rabbit Hole - Two Years Later


  04:42:00 pm, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 688 words  
Categories: Residential Solar, Ranting

Down the Rabbit Hole - Two Years Later

Back in 2016 we wrote about a tangled series of misleading solar advertisements under the title of Down the Rabbit Hole. Seems it struck a chord with readers - it is the 4th highest ranked blog post since we wrote it.  The conclusion to that post went as follows: 

These are the sorts of deceptive business practices that are giving the solar industry such a black eye, and one can only hope that the FTC and state AG’s are paying attention.  But we in the industry have an obligation to shut this sort of thing down.  If you purchase leads you need to know how those leads are generated and not support lead generators who are engaged in these sorts of practices.  Make no mistake - these lead-gen operators are making money because solar companies are buying what they are selling!  We can help ensure consumers are better served simply by refusing to participate - or we can wait for the regulators to step in and make all of our lives more difficult.

Alas, that Rabbit Hole is still there, as my online encounter today demonstrated all too clearly.  Follow along, dear reader…

Much of our work is done in Pasadena, where we are based.  So this got my attention while I was wasting time on the Internet:

Pasadena offers no cost solar to SCE customers???

I suspect this will come as a surprise to the City of Pasadena!

First off this is sponsored content, which means that our old friends, The Solar Institute, paid for this to appear on the webpage I was reading - from my office in Pasadena.  But here’s the rub, Pasadena, of course, has its own municipal utility - Pasadena Water & Power - so why would it be subsidizing SCE rate payers with “no cost solar"?  Easy - they wouldn’t!

Second, is this really “no cost"?  Wow, what a deal!  Who wouldn’t jump at that opportunity?  And so down the Rabbit Hole we go…

SCE customers can no go solar at no costClicking on that link takes you to this site, which looks astonishingly like their site from nearly two years ago.  The main difference?  This is now just ever so slightly less deceptive as it now says it is an advertisement - that disclaimer wasn’t there in 2016.  But they have doubled down on their Tesla/Elon Musk appropriation - previously they just had his alleged quote in the upper right, now they have added the Solar City/Tesla solar roof image to bolster their bona fides
Attention, Tesla legal department, you might want to have a chat with these folks as they are tarnishing your brand!

And check out the blatantly misleading headline - because NO, SCE customers cannot go solar at no cost.  (Neither can anyone else, for that matter!)  The body text is just as bad:

There is a new Solar Program available in Southern California and it’s got Southern California Edison(SCE) shaking in their boots. This new solar program qualifies SCE customers, who live in specific zip codes, to receive $1000’s in Government rebates and tax breaks. Homeowners are shocked to learn that subsidies and rebates cover 99% of costs associated with installation. With the option to put $0 down, you’ll start saving immediately.

Where to start?  I doubt that SCE is losing much sleep about this since there is no “new solar program” - just the same old scam that The Solar Institute has been running since 2016.  There are no “Government rebates,” and the federal tax break is not dependent on your utility or your zip code - and it certainly isn’t dependent on you going through these bozos.

Instead this is nothing more than a lead-generation site, pushing solar leases on unwitting consumers, and using other people’s names and intellectual property to lend credibility to their scam.

If you scroll down to the bottom of their page they have a link seeking solar companies  to “Partner with us” - and there is the problem, solar companies continue to purchase leads from scam artists like this.  Shame on them.

If you are a consumer, caveat emptor - if a deal sounds too good to be true, walk away!  There are plenty of reputable solar companies out there - you can find many of them in the Member Directory of the California Solar & Storage Association.


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Jim Jenal is the Founder & CEO of Run on Sun, Pasadena's premier installer and integrator of top-of-the-line solar power installations.
Run on Sun also offers solar consulting services, working with consumers, utilities, and municipalities to help them make solar power affordable and reliable.

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