Washington Solar Consumer Protection Act

Washington Targets Solar Scams

Washington homeowners scored a legislative victory with the passage of the Washington Solar Consumer Protection Act, a robust piece of legislation meant to shield them from solar scams and deceptive solar industry practices.

Signed into law by Governor Jay Inslee and set to take effect on June 7, 2024, the act responds to an onslaught of misleading online ads, and aggressive door-to-door solicitations, offering “free” rooftop solar installations—a tactic widely discredited by local utilities and solar professionals.

This new law promises a brighter, more honest future for solar energy in Washington, safeguarding residents from the false promises that have clouded the industry.

Jay Inslee Signs The Washington Solar Consumer Protection Act
“The most common abuse that we’ve seen is fly-by-night companies that swoop in and overpromise and underdeliver”

Bill Will, senior policy advisor at the WASEIA trade group.

Working closely with the Washington Department of Commerce, the Washington Solar Energy Industries Association (WASEIA) played a key role in crafting this bill.

Protecting the Washington Solar Industry

Washington residents have been bombarded with online ads promising “free” solar panel installations, which utilities and local solar companies have debunked. These misleading ads, often generated by out-of-state companies, coupled with aggressive sales tactics, have led to complaints of overpromised solar incentives, savings, and flawed solar installations.

The absence of specific provisions in the state’s consumer protection code necessitated new rules and enforcement mechanisms. These new rules were developed in partnership with the Washington State Department of Commerce, WASEIA, local solar contractors, and electric utilities.

The new legislation is a step in the right direction regarding accountability and enforcement, as it would make it easier for private attorneys and the consumer protection division of the state attorney general’s office to police the solar industry.

Washington Responds to Solar Scams

Recognizing the need for consumer protection in the rapidly growing solar sector, state lawmakers collaborated with industry stakeholders to address solar scams and unscrupulous sales tactics.

Nora Hawkins, Senior Energy Policy Specialist at the Washington Department of Commerce, highlighted the bill’s aim to provide clarity and accountability for solar installations.

“This bill would help residents and businesses understand what they will and will not be getting with a solar energy install, and prevent deceptive solar sales tactics and create an ability to hold bad actors accountable”

Nora Hawkins, Senior Energy Policy Specialist at the Washington Department of Commerce

Key Provisions of the Washington Solar Consumer Protection Act

The Solar Consumer Protection Act introduces measures to curb predatory tactics, standardize contractual language, and reinforce installer licensing regulations, while also empowering the Attorney General’s office to penalize non-compliant solar companies.

Solar contracts must now transparently disclose costs, system performance expectations, and consumer rights. These provisions are meant to ensure fair comparison and protection against deceptive practices.

  • Your contractor must be an electrical contractor licensed in Washington
  • There are now a number of disclosures required in your contract around included equipment, services, warranties, and lending practices
  • Contracts can be canceled within 3 days of signing with no penalty to the homeowner
  • Any new roof installation will be separately invoiced to prevent federal tax fraud
  • Solar installers can be held responsible for false claims made during the sales process
  • And many more provisions aimed at providing technically consistent and transparent information to end users

Empowering Washington Consumers

To safeguard against unscrupulous solar contractors, consumers are advised to inquire about the Solar Consumer Protection Act when engaging with contractors, review contracts using provided guidelines, and obtain multiple quotes for informed decision-making.

Local Solar Installers’ Role

Local solar companies continue investing in their community’s well-being and environmental sustainability by prioritizing transparency in customer interactions while ensuring residential solar energy systems comply with best practices set by NABCEP solar installation standards.

In order to contribute to the long-term success of the solar industry, local solar contractors should provide clear information, foster trust, and provide their customers with information concerning their rights as outlined by these new provisions.

“For most WASEIA members, it’s not going to be a big impact”

A&R Solar welcomes the Washington Solar Consumer Protection Act, as it represents a significant step towards ensuring fairness and integrity in Washington’s solar energy sector, empowering consumers and fostering responsible industry practices.

As a longtime WASIEA member, A&R Solar played an influential role in drawing attention to these issues while also contributing to the development of key provisions within this new legislation.

Waseia Solar Installation Member