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Julianne Geiger

Julianne Geiger

Julianne Geiger is a veteran editor, writer and researcher for Oilprice.com, and a member of the Creative Professionals Networking Group.

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No, You Can’t Get Paid To “Go Solar”: Beware Of Energy Scams

As if the solar industry didn’t already face significant headwinds on its way toward world domination, a Facebook page called Solar Energy Today has promised solar energy tax credits or rebates to thousands of unsuspecting Facebook users—tax credits that do not exist, according to the Associated Press.

The scam apparently spent $2.4 million on thousands of ads over the course of a couple of months, running amok as it lured Facebook users to click through to its website for the purposes of gathering personal data such as mailing and email addresses, utility information, and phone number—presumably to sell this data to others for purposes unknown.

The ads promised homeowners huge tax breaks and other incentives if they only installed new solar energy panels—they could even make money, so the ads promised. The ads were even customized to promote tax breaks in specific states, complete with pictures of individual US governors.  

Of course, no such tax break exists, and Facebook finally took down the fraudulent pages and suspended the associated ad accounts as well after several US governors—whose image was used in the scam—reported the activity.

The solar industry has been plagued with scammers, according to Peter Marinello, Vice President of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, Inc. cited by the Associated Press. And a quick Google search of “get paid to go solar” produces numerous results offering just that. Google is even smart enough to tailor search results to your own home state if your settings allow Google to see your location. Most of these websites offer nothing more than information (and only after you provide your personal information), and do not directly sell solar panels. There is nothing to purchase from most of the fraudulent sites—it is just a way of gathering your personal information. Related: The Next Frontier In Energy Storage

There are other solar panel scams out there as well, where companies will offer to put solar panels on your roof at their expense and then sell you the energy that it creates.

Regardless, the solar industry is a magnate for fraud, and buyers need to beware. If you are interested in solar panels, make sure to get multiple estimates and do your homework by checking the status of those companies with the Better Business Bureau, says the Associated Press.

Finally, people should understand that there are no free rides, and the solar industry—and any other industry for that matter—is not positioned to give their product away for free. Homeowners can get the down low on real solar energy credits by visiting energy.gov.

By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com

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Leave a comment
  • Evan Rademaker on April 04 2019 said:
    I just want to say as a homeowner that has gone Solar, this article could not be more inaccurate. I’m saving a ton of money on my power which I now own, and I did receive a tax credit from the government for a 30% tax credit. Just google solar federal tax credit and it’s right there.
  • Jonathan Sedlar on April 05 2019 said:
    I'm a homeowner that "went solar" and it was one of the best upgrades to my century old michigan house. With solar it's pretty easy to power everything on your property. Including heating/cooling, laundry, hot water, kitchen appliances, and even all the energy needed to power your vehicle. I stopped buying gasoline propane and electric from the grid.

    If your handy and have some time to research it's very possible and easy to do your own solar installation. That's what I did and was able to drastically lower to initial cost and break even point.

    The 30 percent federal tax credit is real, easy to submit, carries to the next year if needed, and covers all costs associated with the purchase and installation of the solar project.
  • Cory Kerns on April 05 2019 said:
    Yesterday, I got an email about an apparently fraudulent purchase on my amazon account, and when I tried to follow the link to cancel it, my antivirus software blocked the attempted installation of malicious software. The forged email looked exactly like the real amazon, to me.

    Certainly, there will be fake sites posing as photovoltaic system companies made to steal your information and sell it to spammy advertisers. Problem is, you actually need to give photovoltaic system installers personal information! Perfect opportunity for a phishing scam.

    If you actually want to build high-value photovoltaic systems for your portfolio of assets, you should either be talking to a 3rd party consultant or commit to deep research of your available providers, incentives, interconnection requirements, rate structure, and much more.

    Furthermore, I will say that my first read, plus the reaction of my fellow commenter, indicates to me that this article seems vindictive of the photovoltaic systems industry as a whole.

    I find it disagreeable, that the writers of one section of the energy industry would vilify the members of another. It’s as if service people of different branches were slandering one another. The behavior, apparently natural to humans, is awful.

    I would like to learn more about the variables of the production of kWh’s of all fuel types, but I will not continue to read this publication if I sense a political slant.

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