SEIA Releases New Standardized Consumer Information Tool

People who want to purchase or lease a residential solar system are faced with a welter of unfamiliar and sometimes conflicting information. Often, deciphering it all is an overwhelming process, especially if the home owner is soliciting bids from two or more solar contractors. The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) noticed that when people apply for a mortgage, they get what is called a HUD-1, a standardized form that specifies the terms and conditions for the loan. The information is presented in a universal format that applies to loans in all 50 states, which makes it easier for home owners to compare the total cost of various mortgage packages.

SEIA Solar Power Disclosure

What if there was a similar tool that residential solar customers could use to compare offers from solar contractors? Now there is. It’s called the SEIA Solar Purchase Disclosure and it’s available online for free. It was created by a team of senior attorneys from across the solar and housing industries with input from consumer groups, federal and state regulators, and others with an interest in ensuring consumer satisfaction. The Solar Purchase Disclosure offers a suite of standardized summary documents that help consumers compare offers from competing solar companies. This first-of-its-kind purchase disclosure form will help consumers in all 50 states better understand the transaction they are about to sign up for.

“As solar becomes more affordable, many consumers are paying cash or using loans to buy a solar system,” said Nat Kreamer, chairman of the board of directors of SEIA and CEO of Spruce. “The SEIA disclosure released today helps consumers easily understand the value created by, and responsibilities associated with, owning a home solar electricity system.”

The Solar Purchase Disclosure also includes an addendum with the estimated cost of electricity produced by a solar energy system over its lifetime, an important factor for many consumers in choosing solar over conventional electricity. These disclosures, available for free on the SEIA consumer protection portal, promote increased understanding about home solar system transactions.

The Solar Purchase Disclosure is a result of an ongoing effort by SEIA to make sure the solar industry remains at the forefront of consumer protection, a top issue for SEIA. The Solar Purchase Disclosure  also indicates whether the company abides by the SEIA Solar Business Code, which all SEIA member companies follow and which provides some avenues consumers can take advantage of to resolve any disputes that may arise as part of the transaction. SEIA intends to continue to build upon its consumer protection initiative with free educational offerings and alerts on key issues throughout the year.

As part of its mission, SEIA has many online tools that help consumers understand what residential solar power is all about, how to understand the terms that are part of any solar system transaction, and how to compare competing offers so they get the best possible package for their particular needs. SEIA is also a tireless advocate for residential solar power at the state and local level, a  role that may become increasingly important in the uncertain days ahead because of a new administration more interested in building coal fired generating facilities than investing in clean renewable energy.

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writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Rhode Island. You can follow him on Google + and on Twitter.