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When harvesting the sun don't get burned.
Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
May 15, 2008
Not long ago I was approached by an Encinitas resident who thought I should "write a column to warn people about Ponzi schemes and scams" offered by shady companies offering 100% solar rebates. He was referring to Best Windows and Doors and the National Energy Rebate Fund (NERF), and asked me to go on-line and check out an offer that was actually to good to be true.
Going on-line what I found was not a solar manufacturer or installer. Instead I found a window installation company professing to be the only approved NERF contractor in California (that should have been the homeowners first clue.) What I didn't find was a San Diego address, nor any detail information about solar service or rates offered by the aforementioned Best Windows and Doors (that should have been their second clue).
The third clue the homeowners should have picked up on was the testimonials page, where no mention of satisfactory solar installation or service was evidenced. The clincher, a screaming siren of consumer con jobs, was to be found on the NERF website. Not only were the testimonials of paid claimants were cheesy, none mentioned solar, none of the rebate recipients were from California, and the amounts paid back would do little to cover the cost of installing solar panels.
The rebate program is funded by the companies offering the vouchers. Each month NERF takes money from all vouchers issued across the United States and place it in Escrow at a Colorado bank along with a vouchers issued report listing the voucher ID numbers, amounts, and names of the potential claimants into a "monthly pool". The entire unspecified amount is then deposited to be invested in long term U.S. Treasury Bills and held in Escrow for 47 months.
According NERF, people in a specific monthly pool are required to send in their claim after a 3 years, 11 months period. A report is then submitted by an administrator listing the potential claimants seeking a rebate, which is compared to the original report held by the bank, and only then are funds released to pay the valid claims.
The term bait and switch comes to mind.
I mention this only to warn those taking the steps towards environmental sustainability to beware of the shysters and charlatans preying on homeowners wanting to do right by the planet and save money in the process. If something sounds to good to be true it is.
This is not to say there isn't reputable rebate programs out there. The best place to beginning shopping for solar products services and rebates is at www.eere.energy.gov/consumer the website of the U.S. Department of Energy's energy efficiency and renewable energy information resources regarding homes,vehicles, and the workplace.
Solar generation will power Southern California in the future, re-energizing the economy in the To that end energy consumers need to be encouraged to make convert their homes and officers to renewable and environmentally sustainable energy sources, not hindered by ethically challenged contractors seeking to make a quick buck off the best intentions of others.
When going solar don't get burned.