Consumer-Education Campaign Shines Light on Solar Energy

The Solar Energy Industries Association has launched a consumer-education campaign to help people understand the technology and the process of going solar.

Solar energy is growing rapidly—1.5 million households have solar installed, and 4 to 5 million are expected to by 2021. Still, most people don’t know much about solar. To better inform the public and protect consumers of solar energy systems, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) is launching a consumer-education campaign.

The campaign aims to clarify and simplify the process of going solar. Through its consumer-protection portal, SEIA provides information and tools, such as disclosure forms, to help customers better understand the fundamentals of solar, ask the right questions of solar companies, compare offers from solar companies, and know what to expect from their solar system over the years.

“Very similar to putting an addition on your home, you have to know the right questions to ask,” said SEIA Executive Vice President Tom Kimbis. SEIA has been working on consumer protection for the past two years, and it wanted to “maximize the consumer experience” and ensure that they “are on the same page as the company they’re entering into a contract with.”

“We’ve been developing top-of-the-line resources for years—now it’s about spreading the word and getting these resources into the hands of people who need it,” said SEIA President and CEO Abigail Ross Hopper in a statement. “Solar is still a new power choice for millions of Americans, and it’s critical that we cultivate a well-informed customer base. By doing their homework and making use of these tools, consumers and stakeholders alike will feel confident and comfortable in the decision to go solar.”

In addition, SEIA created an ethics code for its members that covers advertising, marketing, consumer interactions, and contracts. The association has worked closely with the Better Business Bureau on it, and the bureau has shared the code with all its local chapters. “We took a leadership role in mandating that all members abide by the code,” Kimbis said. The code “makes sure our companies go above and beyond to provide consumers all the information they need to make the right decision.”

“The Better Business Bureau supports SEIA’s efforts to provide accountability and transparency that will help strengthen the industry and increase trust in the marketplace,” said Mary Power, CEO of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, in a statement.

SEIA wants to help members grow their business, and “the best way to do business is to be as transparent as possible,” Kimbis said.

As part of its consumer-protection focus, SEIA created a consumer-protection committee made up of the general counsels of many of the leading companies, and it has gone proactively to the Federal Trade Commission and to state attorneys general “before we feel like any substantive issues have arisen, to get ahead of any problems,” Kimbis said.

SEIA is working with its partners to get the word out. It has shared its consumer-protection resources with governors, attorneys general, state consumer advocates, public utility commissions, solar companies, financial institutions, lead generators, federal agencies, and other organizations across the country.


Allison Torres Burtka

By Allison Torres Burtka

Allison Torres Burtka, a longtime association journalist, is a freelance writer and editor in West Bloomfield, Michigan. MORE

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