September 9, 2016

SolarCity Expands To Austin As Its Risky Leasing Scheme Gets Blasted By Ralph Nader’s Consumer Watchdog


SolarCity, the rooftop solar power company founded by Elon Musk’s cousin, Lyndon Rive, yesterday announced its expansion to the Austin, TX market.

America’s #1 solar power provider, is expanding its service and operations in Texas by making its popular solar service available to homeowners in Austin for the first time.

Recently, SolarCity’s leasing programs have come under fire from Public Citizen, the powerful consumer watchdog group founded by Ralph Nader, which sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) targeting the lack of regulatory safeguards on companies like SolarCity.

The Daily Caller reports:

The group said solar companies disallow customers from legal recourse over its increasingly complicated leasing and financial scheme — the complexities oftentimes leave ratepayers paying way more in the long run than they expected.

Tyson Slocum, Public Citizen’s energy director, released a statement last month calling on SolarCity to strike arbitration (rip-off) clauses that deny customers legal protections from their leasing contracts. SolarCity has not complied.

Public Citizen earlier this year urged the solar leasing industry leader, SolarCity, to remove arbitration clauses from standard contracts, but the company has refused. That’s why the FTC needs to protect consumers by eliminating mandatory arbitration in contracts from solar leases and power purchase agreements.

Meanwhile, SolarCity has faced scrutiny for retaining ownership of its customers’ renewable energy credits (RECs), which it then sells back to power companies looking to satisfy state-mandated clean energy requirements. As a result, according to Mother Jones, SolarCity customers’ “direct net contribution to reducing greenhouse gas pollution is nil.”

As the company continues to employ these questionable practices, Texans looking to “go green” might think twice before signing up with SolarCity.