June 27, 2016: Adding another tool to help consumers understand rooftop solar investments, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) is introducing standardized disclosure statements covering the most common residential transactions. The SEIA Solar Power Purchase Agreement Disclosure statement and the revised SEIA Solar Lease Disclosure are simple summary documents that make it easier for consumers to compare solar offers from competitors and understand the terms of a proposal before entering an agreement.
“We strive to make the process of going solar as straightforward and transparent for customers as possible, and these new forms help achieve that,” said Tom Kimbis, SEIA’s interim president. “These disclosure forms are a big step forward toward creating a marketplace of consumers who are fully informed and educated in choosing solar.”
“The SEIA disclosure forms are a positive step in the right direction,” said Mary E. Power, president and CEO of the Council of Better Business Bureaus. “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.
These advancements demonstrate SEIA’s commitment to building a strong, self-regulated industry that will ensure greater consumer protections,” said Power, whose group is the umbrella organization for the local, independent BBBs in the United States, Canada and Mexico as well as home to its national and international programs on dispute resolution, advertising review, and industry self-regulation.
The disclosure forms are short documents that residential solar companies can provide to consumers that summarize the key terms of any proposed solar installation. Using clear, consistent disclosures allows consumers to better compare offers from competing solar companies and to ask the right questions. The forms are designed to summarize the transaction in short form similar to how a HUD-1 form reflects key terms of a home sale in a few pages.
SEIA has released the disclosure forms as the Federal Trade Commission prepares to hold a workshop to discuss consumer protection in the solar industry. During the FTC Workshop, SEIA will highlight the solar industry’s proactive consumer protection efforts and SEIA’s full suite of consumer protection tools. SEIA also will explain how these tools work with existing state and federal consumer protection laws.
In February, SEIA released its first version of the SEIA Residential Lease Disclosure form. Today’s full release incorporates feedback from across the industry to ensure consumers are even more informed on costs, performance, warranty, policy implications and other significant components of the transaction. Both forms require solar companies to disclose to consumers whether they agree to abide by the SEIA Solar Business Code and Complaint Resolution process. In addition, SEIA members are equipping their customers with model lease and PPA contracts and the Consumer Guide to Solar Power, with more materials to come.