California Legislation Boosts Solar Consumer Protection

Shortly after praising Gov. Jerry Brown, D-Calif., for signing a solar thermal bill into law, the California Solar Energy Industries Association (CALSEIA) is again applauding the governor for signing separate legislation designed to increase consumer protection.

On Thursday, Brown signed A.B.1070, which CALSEIA says creates new and important consumer protection measures, including standardized and simplified disclosures, for all residential solar customers in the state. Authored by Assemblywoman Gonzalez Fletcher, the bill previously passed the California Assembly and Senate unanimously.

“CALSEIA greatly appreciates the efforts of Assemblywoman Gonzalez Fletcher to protect consumers and applaud Governor Brown for signing A.B.1070,” says Bernadette Del Chiaro, executive director of CALSEIA. “We support this new law because it simultaneously helps eliminate confusion in the marketplace while also reigning the handful of errant contractors. It does this without inadvertently harming the ethical California business men and women who are critical architects of California’s clean energy future.”

According to CALSEIA, A.B.1070 requires the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) on or before July 1, 2018, to develop a disclosure document that must be provided to consumers prior to sale, finance or lease of solar installation. In addition, the law requires the California Public Utilities Commission to develop standard inputs for calculation and presentation of energy savings to potential buyers.

“We should make it as easy as possible for Californians to use solar power and other clean energy sources,” comments Fletcher. “But it’s very expensive and very intimidating for homeowners to invest in solar power. It’s a challenge figuring out the honest companies from the ones trying to rip you off. The more protection we can provide consumers, the more comfortable they’ll be purchasing solar power at a time when each of us must do our part to combat climate change.”

Last week, CALSEIA notes, Brown also signed two other important consumer protection bills, S.B.242 and A.B.1284, which provide additional consumer protections for Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing of clean energy projects. As the group explains, S.B.242 mandates PACE providers to call homeowners to ensure they understand the terms, and A.B.1284 requires the Department of Business Oversight to regulate PACE providers and PACE lenders to ensure borrowers have the ability to repay their loan obligations.

Since solar investments are independent, voluntary choices made by consumers, CALSEIA says consumer protection is considered the cornerstone of the solar industry. The group adds that with the signing of these three strong bills – A.B.1070, S.B.242 and A.B.1284 – California took major steps to increase protections for consumers in the 2017 legislative session.


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