Court’s ruling favors IID in Riverside County ordinance repeal

A California Court granted a preliminary injunction in favor of a public utility saying that the Riverside County ordinance would cause irreparable harm to the Imperial Irrigation District. The ordinance was pushed for by a private business owner in Riverside County and would have benefited his solar development company directly. Without the preliminary injunction the solar company, Energy Alliance, would have been able to market solar panels to customers with higher energy reimbursement rates than what is required by state law. This is a win for consumers who would have been defrauded when reimbursement rates were paid at state mandated rates. 

Court’s ruling favors IID in Riverside County ordinance repeal

LOS ANGELES – A Los Angeles County Superior court judge Tuesday, November 6 granted a preliminary injunction preventing the county of Riverside from implementing a controversial ordinance that, if enacted, would bypass the authority of the Imperial Irrigation District to set electric rates for its customers, according to a recent press release.

In granting the injunction, Judge Mary Strobel found that the county’s ordinance conflicts with state law and, if enacted, would cause irreparable harm to the district, Frank Oswalt, IID’s general counsel, reported.

Although no final rulings were made, Oswalt said in the press release the court determined there was a likely probability that IID would prevail if the matter were fully contested. Further, should the ordinance be enacted, the IID board and staff would be irreparably harmed by the prescribed criminal penalties in the ordinance, and the district harmed by the millions in unrecoverable costs to implement it.

In June, the Riverside County Board of Supervisors approved Ordinance No. 943, that would have required IID to scrap its publicly vetted and board-adopted solar tariff, net energy billing and create a new solar tariff that closely resembles that of a privately owned utility, Southern California Edison. All this was set in motion at the request of a private business owner whose business is located in Riverside County and stands to directly benefit financially from the impacts of this ordinance.

“The notion that Riverside County would usurp IID’s ratemaking authority and adopt an ordinance that violates state law is inherently unreasonable and unprecedented,” said James Hanks, IID board president, in the release. “Today’s action by the court is a win for the district and its ratepayers.”

In making her ruling, Judge Strobel also noted several potential areas in which the county’s ordinance may conflict with the Public Utilities Act.

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IID alleges Riverside County violated Brown Act in passing ordinance

Additional details explaining the corrupt passage of Riverside County’s solar reimbursement came out during an Imperial Irrigation District meeting. According to lawyers for the district, Riverside County officials violated open meetings laws in determining who was going to vote for the contentious ordinance. The ordinance was already under scrutiny after details emerged that the ordinance was pushed by a private solar developer, Energy Alliance, including a promise for the developer to pay for court costs, effectively bribing the county into passing the change. If the change were to become law it would have a negative impact on Riverside County residents. Energy Alliance would be able to market solar panels to customers promising higher energy reimbursement rates than the utility is required to pay by state law.

IID alleges Riverside County violated Brown Act in passing ordinance

By: Imperial Valley Press

LA QUINTA — The Imperial Irrigation District is alleging Riverside County was in violation of California’s open meetings law, the Brown Act, when Riverside officials “lined up votes” outside of the public’s purview on an ordinance the district is now suing over.

What’s more, due to the alleged Brown Act violations, the district sent a letter from one of its attorneys demanding that the ordinance in question be rescinded or that Riverside County face additional legal challenges from the district.

The allegations were made public Tuesday at the district’s monthly meeting in La Quinta during a presentation by attorneys for Aguirre and Severson LLP, an outside law firm hired by the district to make a California public records request on its behalf.

The district is currently embroiled in a lawsuit with Riverside County over the approval of Ordinance 943, a law passed by the Riverside County Board of Supervisors in June compelling the IID to provide additional incentives to electrical customers who have installed solar panels on their properties.

IID officials are opposed to the ordinance, saying that at stake is the district’s authority to set its own rates and that the district is already in compliance with California state law.

“IID’s business model allows the district to offer its customers some of the lowest residential electric rates in California — rates that are as much as 50 percent lower than that of neighboring investor-owned utilities. The ordinance, should it be implemented, jeopardizes these rates and sets a bad public policy that has the potential to impact other public power providers across the state,” IID communications specialist Robert Schettler said in a statement.

The ordinance passed by Riverside County — which is not in effect, but in a court-ordered stay while the suit makes its way through legal proceedings — establishes new regulations and procedures for irrigation districts like IID that are operating net-energy metering programs. Net-energy metering is a program designed to benefit customers who generate their own electricity, usually via rooftop solar panels.

The Brown Act violation allegations are believed to be contained in a series of correspondence Aguirre and Severson requested between Riverside County officials and staff and principals in Renova Energy, a private solar installation company based in Palm Desert that appears to have pushed for the ordinance according to a series of emails.

“Because of the rather troubling aspects of the way this thing was passed, we asked outside counsel to make a public records request,” IID General Counsel Frank Oswalt said.

Oswalt said Riverside County responded to the records request Oct. 2 and within a series of email correspondence attorneys believed they found two emails, or examples, in which the Brown Act was violated.

The Brown Act states, Oswalt said, that a legislative body such as the Riverside County Board of Supervisors “shall not outside a meeting, use a series of communications to discuss, deliberate or take action” on a subject within its jurisdiction.

In a letter to the Riverside County board from IID Deputy County Counsel Joanna Smith Hoff:

“Email correspondence produced by [Riverside] County reveal extensive, non-public solicitation and collection of votes by Supervisor V. Manuel Perez at the insistence of [Renova Energy owner Vincent] Battaglia. For example, by email dated May 5, 2018, Supervisor Perez urged Thomas S. Freeman, a senior Perez staff member:

‘Tom, let’s count the votes. Use this information and the fact that Renova will indemnify. If votes still not there, we will need Vince (Battagalia) to knock on those doors to get us there.’”

Smith Hoff’s letter goes on to cite a second email where Perez lobbies Riverside County Deputy Chief Executive Officer Brian Nestande on May 1:

“Hey Brian, what are we waiting on now? Let’s move this forward. Let’s count the votes. V. Manuel Perez”

Smith Hoff writes: “It is clear from the above emails that Supervisor Perez worked through intermediaries to develop concurrence on Ordinance 943 out of public view and prior to any public consideration of the matter by the board.”

Further, IID alleges in Smith Hoff’s letter that the email correspondence also shows “a secretly negotiated indemnity agreement between Mr. Battaglia and his companies (Renova and ERA) on the one hand, and the county of Riverside on the other, that preceded any public board consideration or action in connection with the adoption of Ordinance 943.”

“We see this letter,” Smith Hoff writes, “as providing you [Riverside] an opportunity to rectify an illegal action avoiding the need for further litigation.” From the date of the letter, Oct. 12, the IID has given Riverside County 30 days to respond or be subject to legal action.

Riverside County officials deny any wrongdoing.

“The Riverside County Board of Supervisors has and will continue to adhere to the requirements of the Ralph M. Brown Act. The allegations by the Imperial Irrigation District have no merit. Board members did not engage in any serial meetings in advance of the ordinance’s introduction and adoption. The recent disclosure of emails in response to IID’s public records request does not change the fact that there were no serial meetings,” Riverside County spokesman Ray Smith wrote in an email Wednesday afternoon.

Aguirre and Severson partner Maria Severson took the IID Board of Directors and those assembled at Tuesday’s meeting through a history of the “behind-the-scenes” development of the ordinance by way of a chain of emails outlining negotiations between Battaglia, Perez and others. There was a specific call to arms against the IID from Battaglia, according to the emails. Battaglia makes references to going to “war” with IID and in another instance calling the IID Board of Directors “rogue, corrupt and environmentally tone-deaf” through the development of the ordinance and the alleged negotiation of the indemnity agreement.

IID is “wasting rate payer money challenging a law they know they have no right to challenge,” Battaglia said Wednesday. “We addressed this Brown Act business. They are throwing anything at the wall to try to make it stick.”

Battaglia said the IID is trying to “paint it as if this greedy solar guy is trying to bring net-metering back. … It’s a just a game they are playing now trying to smear me. … It’s a cartel down there. I understand that mentality; I’m just not going to put up with that.”

He added that any dealings he had with Riverside County officials was above board and legal.

No action was taken on the Brown Act issue by the IID board, as the issue was placed on the meeting agenda as an information-only item. None of the board members nor IID General Manager Kevin Kelley commented on the issue; Oswalt advised, “In fact, it would probably be inappropriate for the board to comment on it.”

Meanwhile, IID filed suit against Riverside over the ordinance back on July 13 in Riverside County Superior Court. The ordinance in question has not gone into effect, as the IID won a stay pending further consideration of the merits of the case. The parties are next due in court Nov. 6 in Los Angeles, seen as a neutral site by the court.

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Net metering is a lose-lose situation for taxpayers

Commercial energy producers are complaining about a recent change in New Hampshire’s net metering law that limits their ability to take advantage of a program meant for home owners. Net metering gives homeowners the ability to sell extra electricity produced by rooftop solar panels back to the grid at high rates. The policy shifts the cost of grid maintenance to non-solar users and allowing commercial producers to sell electricity at these high rates instead of wholesale rates paid to other commercial producers is unfair to ratepayers and net-metering users.

Net metering is a lose-lose situation for taxpayers

To The Daily Sun,

In response to the August 22 Letter from Tony Guinta and the August 23 article by Thomas Caldwell on Net Metering: Governor’s veto, as a 5 MW power plant (Solar, Hydro or BioMass) is not a residential installation, but a commercial energy producer, and as such should be paid the same rates as any other commercial energy producers.

The 1 MW limit was established to allow home owners and small business owners to offset the high cost of Electricity in this state, not to make a for-profit electricity generator company cash at the expense of the rest of the rate payers. Land required per MW is approx 5 acres (setbacks excluded). So a 5 MW system would require 25-30 acres of land.

The Bill Sponsors — Bob Giuda and Kevin Avard — advocate for the override of the Veto. If the bill sponsors wanted to use the bill for the benefit of the Biomass Industry they should not have tied it to the Net Metering bill … these are two separate issues.

The Net Metering restrictions in place keep large commercial solar and wind farms (by out-of-state firms) from disrupting the landscape. There will be no benefit to the tax payers of NH if the large commercial solar firm come to NH to install systems under subsidies, it make them more money, but does not increase the commercial taxes collected, which is a lose-lose situation for taxpayers. Instead of large power lines, which were successfully fought, along the Northern Pass, you would have eye sore large Solar farms and Wind Turbines all over the state. Most recently, there was a proposal for a 25 MW, 80,000 panel solar system in Sanbornton on private land in a rural-residential area by a Colorado firm, that would have been put on old farm fields and woodlands. The proposal would have clear-cut 50 acres of forest in the forest conservation district of the town. These are the types of projects that will flood into NH by out-of-state firms that want to reap the benefit of the subsidies without any benefit to the taxpayers. That same Sanbornton project would have been on land owned by Mr. Guinta and his family. Thus, he has a slight conflict of interest beyond his push for the “veto override” for just the City of Franklin’s growth. We all support the use of Solar and Wind projects. These commercial entities should be encouraged to come to NH, but not subsidized by the taxpayers. Let the commercial firms, large and small, in-state and out-of-state, pay their fare share to the tax base. Save the subsidies for the local homeowners that put solar panels on the rooftops, like the subsidies were meant for. Keep the VETO in place!

Mark Larocque

Gilford

Read more at: https://www.laconiadailysun.com/opinion/letters_to_editor/net-metering-is-a-lose-lose-situation-for-taxpayers/article_943fc926-a79b-11e8-ba2d-e3b252cfc901.html

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IID claims Riverside ordinance on solar energy is illegal

A solar development company has convinced Riverside County, California to promote a potentially illegal policy that will have a negative consequence for their customers in order for the company to make more profit. Energy Alliance agreed to pay the court fees for a potential lawsuit in exchange for a policy of increased payouts by the area utility, however the government run utility has a state mandated payout structure at a lower rate than the county prescribed. Under the policy, Energy Alliance could sell rooftop solar panels to customers promising the county mandated retail rate for selling excess power back to the grid, but the utility would pay the wholesale rate, a significantly lower rate set by the state, possibly leading consumers to being unable to afford their new solar panels. Energy Alliance has effectively bribed Riverside County in order to make more money from consumers interested in moving to solar.

IID claims Riverside ordinance on solar energy is illegal

By Betty Miller

IMPERIAL – Antonio Ortiz, the Imperial Irrigation District’s government affairs officer, gave an update on a lawsuit filed by the District against Riverside County’s Ordinance 943, a mandate telling the District what to pay Riverside residents for rooftop solar over-generation. Ortiz gave his report during the Wednesday, July 25 regular board meeting.

Over a year ago, on March 7, 2017, the Riverside County Board of Supervisors directed its staff to propose an ordinance to require the IID to reinstitute the net energy metering solar tariff for their customers living in the unincorporated areas of Riverside County. That area includes close to 22,000 households and businesses.

Ortega said IID sent representatives to Riverside to argue the ordinance would be contrary to state law. The California legislature, moved by residential solar developers, required utilities, including the IID, to offer net energy metering solar tariffs, until the megawatts reimbursed was equivalent to five percent of that utility’s peak load. Under the law, utilities were mandated to pay rooftop solar homeowners retail for their over-generated electricity instead of buying it back at wholesale prices.

The IID met the State requirement in the first quarter of 2016, according to Ortega, and voluntarily extended the net energy metering solar payback to additional applicants until the utility exceeded the state mandate.

After the program was fulfilled, the IID board adopted a successor solar tariff, net energy billing, with the difference being the retail buyback rate. Since changing to net energy billing, IID customers have installed close to 900 solar systems, he said.

IID officials said it appeared Riverside had discontinued its ordinance, until a residential solar developer promised Riverside County they would pay all court costs if the ordinance was challenged. Riverside County then unanimously adopted Ordinance No. 943. In response, the IID filed a Petition for Writ of Mandate July 13 asking the Superior Court for an order to stop the enforcement of the ordinance and ultimately rescind it altogether.

Because the IID’s power rates charged to customers is one of the lowest in the State, the retail price is also lower to buy back the over-generated power produced by solar rooftop panels.

Riverside solar companies have said the 22,000 houses in IID’s electrical grid cannot have solar panels because the price does not pencil out to pay for the installation. That is why the Riverside County Board of Supervisors mandated the IID pay at the higher retail rate charged by the other electrical company in the area.

IID General Manager Kevin Kelley said Riverside is encroaching on the District’s rate setting. He reminded board members that embedded in the Riverside ordinance are criminal sanctions if it is not followed.

Maria Severson, outside counsel for the District, agreed the ordinance was unusual with one government entity dictating to another. It gives the IID 90 days to comply or they would be subject to escalating criminal penalties, starting with a misdemeanor and adding fines and penalties.

Besides Riverside dictating how much the district pays for over-generation of electricity, if too many people participate, it affects the whole IID grid and the ability to distribute energy, Kelley added. The IID is forced to pay retail in buying back the unused energy, even though it could buy energy cheaper on the open market or generate their own, he explained.

The ordinance is unlawful, Severson told the board. Once the state has occupied a field of law, enacted law, she said, Net Energy Metering does not allow counties or other public entities to enact laws to re-regulate a State law, because it has already been regulated by the State.

Also, before Riverside docketed the ordinance, they admitted they entered into an indemnification agreement between the solar developer, Energy Alliance, and the county.

“The agreement was signed in early June by the County chair, and what you have is a for-profit company,” Severson said. “A developer, with a potential market of 22,000 homes to sell solar panels to, is proposing the ordinance and has told the county that if you get sued, if this is challenged, we will pay for it, don’t worry about it. Under the laws of California, that is a question of whether that is lawful.”

Kelley said in addition to the potential unlawfulness of the ordinance, the courts should not allow the two valleys to fight over IID’s rate structure. Solar power companies say that with IID’s low rate for over-generation, it does not pencil out for homeowners to install solar panels.

Ortega mentioned the solar developer’s business model does not succeed without government aid, in this case, it would be payments by the IID equaling what the higher charging Southern Edison pays. Ortega called it “welfare.”

“What makes this especially bad,” said Ortega, “you are giving aid to an area and companies that need it least. Usually welfare is to those that have the need. But it shifts from a poor community paying welfare to a rich community.”

IID Director Bruce Kuhn said he had asked the solar company if they could make a profit without a subsidized contract. They answered in the negative, he said.

“You should get into another line of business,” Kuhn said he advised them.

Ortega said the recently imposed tariffs on imported solar panels are going to raise developers’ costs even more, and they would then require higher subsidies.

“The federal and state government handed out many incentives and subsidies to get renewable energy companies launched,” Ortega said. “And they have stayed dependent on those handout models. “

“This is not what IID would have chosen,” Kelley concluded. “This is not the outcome we hoped for a year ago. Now that we are here. But as the board, you have no choice but to stick up for the ratepayers as a whole.”

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The Incredible Scam of Rooftop Solar

As more homeowners install rooftop-solar, new issues are arising. Too much solar is putting a strain on the local electric grids. Rooftop solar panels push unused power onto the grid during the day when no one is home and power consumption is lowest, the grid is forced to waste this energy whenever consumption falls below the base load supplied by local power plants. This is a waste of energy and utility payers’ money.

Net Metering policy is attractive in theory, but terrible in practice. Under many states’ net metering policies, rooftop solar costumers get to displace power from the utility company, and if the homeowner has more power than needed, the utility company is required to purchase the excess power at a retail price. By being forced to buy this energy at the high retail price, utilities must shift the cost of grid maintenance and other costs to non-solar customers. Forcing utilities o buy overpriced rooftop electricity results in higher costs on non-solar grid users and taxpayers.

The Solar industry has pushed net metering on utilities at absurdly electric rates. It is a policy that is touted to help Americans have a lower electrical cost by going solar, but raises the rates on non-solar users.

The Incredible Scam of Rooftop Solar

By Norman Rogers

A modest proposal:

We’ve all heard about “shop local” and “get your food from local farmers, not distant corporate farms.”  Lots of people have apple trees in their backyards.  Often they can’t begin to eat or give away all the apples.  In the meantime, big supermarkets sell corporate apples for one dollar a pound and up.  I propose that people with backyard apples be able to take them to the supermarket and sell them to the supermarket for the same price at which the supermarket is selling apples.  Furthermore, they should be able to take them at any time and receive payment.  If the store gets too many local apples, it can reduce its purchase of corporate apples.

My apple proposal may seem ill advised, but that is exactly how rooftop solar power works.  The homeowner gets to displace power from the power company, and if the homeowner has more power than he needs, the power company is obligated to purchase it, often for the same retail price at which it sells electricity.  That policy is called net metering.  In order to accommodate the homeowner’s electric power, the utility has to throttle down some other power plant that produces power at a lower wholesale price.

The exact arrangements for accepting rooftop solar vary by jurisdiction.  In some places, net metering is restricted in one way or another.

A large-scale natural gas-generating plant can supply electricity for around 6 cents per kilowatt-hour.  Rooftop solar electricity costs, without subsidies, around 30 cents per kilowatt-hour, or five times as much.  Average retail rates for electricity in most places are between 8 cents and 16 cents per kilowatt-hour.  Yet, paradoxically, the homeowner can often reduce this electric bill by installing rooftop solar.

It is actually worse than forcing the power company to take 30-cent electricity that it could get from a natural gas plant for 6 cents.  When the company throttles down a natural gas plant to make room for rooftop electricity, it is not saving six cents, because it already has paid for the gas plant.  All it saves is the marginal fuel that is saved when the plant is throttled down to make room for the rooftop electricity.  The saving in fuel is about 2 cents per kilowatt-hour.  So 30-cent electricity displaces grid electricity and saves two cents.

But where does the other 28 cents come from?  Who pays for that?  Part is paid for by the federal 30% subsidy for solar energy construction cost.  That takes care of about nine cents per kilowatt-hour.  That leaves the homeowner with electricity costing him 21 cents per kilowatt-hour.  The cost comes from his monthly payments on the loan to build the solar system divided by the number of kilowatt-hours generated that month.  If he pays cash for the solar system, then the monthly cost is his lost investment return on the cash he paid.  If he lives in a jurisdiction where electricity costs 11 cents, then he is losing 10 cents for each kilowatt-hour generated (21 cents minus 11 cents).  But if he lives in California, where larger home users of electricity pay 53 cents per kilowatt-hour if they consume beyond a baseline limit, he saves 32 cents for each kilowatt-hour of solar electricity generated.  In that case, the power company is losing kilowatt-hours it could have sold for 53 cents.  Other customers have to pay more to make up the lost revenue.

From the standpoint of society, rooftop solar substitutes 30-cent electricity in order to save two cents.  If the homeowner is at least breaking even, as he usually is, he hasn’t lost anything due to the substitution.  The money to pay for the 30-cent electricity comes from the taxpayer-provided subsidy and revenue that is no longer paid to the power company.  The taxpayers and power company pay for 30-cent electricity that could have been obtained for two cents by burning a little more natural gas.  If the homeowner makes a profit on the solar power, then the burden on everyone else is even greater.  Since the power company is guaranteed a rate of return, or at least has to break even, rates have to be raised enough to pay for the overpriced rooftop electricity.  The burden falls on society to pay for the scheme.  The purveyors of rooftop solar, crackpot environmentalists and rooftop solar-owners, are happy.  Everyone else is screwed.

Here is an example of rooftop solar that costs 30 cents a kilowatt-hour.  A 5-kilowatt rooftop system costs about $21,000 installed.  It will generate 7,000 kilowatt-hours per year.  If it is financed over 20 years at 8% interest, the annual payment will be $2,139.  The cost per kilowatt-hour is $2,139/7,000 = $0.306, or 30.6 cents per kilowatt-hour.  Of course, costs and interest rates vary, as does sunshine.  If you think 8% is too high for the interest rate, ask yourself if you would loan your neighbor $21,000 for 20 years for less.  Rooftop solar is expensive compared to utility-scale solar, because it is a small custom installation.  The orientation and slope of the house roof may be less than ideal.  Large-scale utility solar, in contrast, can be as cheap as seven cents per kilowatt-hour.

An increasing problem, already present in California, is too much solar.  The electric grid has a combination of base load power and additional peaking loads.  The base load runs 24 hours a day and is not easy to throttle down.  Solar power peaks around midday.  If there is so much solar as to threaten the base generation, solar has to be curtailed.  In California, this happens in the spring, when sunshine is plentiful but the air-conditioning load is not yet large.  When solar dies, in the hour before sunset, peak power consumption is often being reached.  In that case, solar aggravates the rate at which the rest of the grid has to increase power output to handle the early evening peak.  If the homeowner is at least breaking even, he is probably generating surplus electricity during the middle of the day, adding more solar during the critical midday period and increasing the size of the sudden surge in power demand when the sun fades.

Utility-scale solar costing seven cents is a big waste of money.  Rooftop solar costing 30 cents is insane.  Special interests  – the solar industry and environmentalist crackpots – have convinced legislatures and public utility commissions to stack the deck with net metering and absurdly high tiered electric rates.  The result is to make it profitable for homeowners to invest in what otherwise would be very expensive electricity.  Society as a whole pays for the economic waste, amounting typically to 28 cents per kilowatt-hour of rooftop electricity.

It is foolish to justify rooftop solar on the grounds of reducing CO2 emissions, because if you work the numbers, it costs about $800 to avoid emitting a metric ton of CO2 using rooftop solar.  You can buy a carbon offset that does the same thing for $10.  Reducing CO2 emissions is dubious in any case.  Global warming-climate change ideology is struggling because warming is not remotely meeting expectations.  Believers are starting to lose their faith in global warming.  It is dawning on them that global warming is another scary disaster in a long parade of scary disasters that never materialize but make money for interested parties.  Fewer people want to waste billions on a quixotic quest for renewable power.

The most prominent remaining global warming believers are now advocating nuclear power as the best means of reducing CO2 emissions.  CO2 is plant food that makes plants grow better with less water.  It greens deserts and increases agricultural productivity.  Bring it on.

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Governor Sununu Vetoes Net Metering Bill in New Hampshire

Earlier this week, Governor Chris Sununu vetoed two energy bills, one of which would have expanded electric net metering practices in New Hampshire. Renewable energy advocates hope legislators will override his veto and push the bill into law. S.B. 446 would increase limits on net metering by towns and businesses, allowing bigger solar, wind, hydro and biomass projects to receive larger subsidies for the energy they generate. In a letter released Tuesday, Governor Sununu detailed his concerns, principally the massive economic costs the increased net metering caps would have on ratepayers across the state.

“These bills send our state in the exactly wrong direction. We need to be taking steps to lower electric rates, not passing legislation that would cause massive increases,” Governor Sununu stated in his missive following the vote. The Governor went on to point out that S.B. 446 would cost ratepayers at between $5 to 10 million annually and was a ultimately a handout to large solar energy developers.

Net metering is a bad deal for small businesses across New Hampshire. If signed into law, S.B. 446 would have quadrupled the state’s net metering caps, allowing residents who use solar panels to sell more of the excess energy they produce back to the power companies at inflated prices. This practice shifts the cost of grid upkeep back to non-solar users. Many small businesses who fit into this category ultimately pay higher rates and see no tangible benefit. Family Businesses for Affordable Energy believes that energy incentive projects should be able to compete on their own merits, and not place additional financial burdens on businesses and working families. Family Businesses for Affordable Energy applauds Governor Sununu on his decision and encourages leaders in other states to follow his example.

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San Isabel warns of fraud

Many solar installers are using outlandish claims to help sell solar panels, some so outlandish San Isabel Electric is calling them fraudulent. Claims of massive savings, to the point of eliminating consumer’s electric bill, have officials concerned about how the fraud will affect customers. San Isabel is telling customers the best way to find out how solar panels will affect their monthly bill is to talk to the utility directly and take the claims on salesmen with a grain of salt.

San Isabel warns of fraud

A solar energy company based out of Provo, Utah, is being accused by San Isabel Electric of making fraudulent claims, using the electric co-op’s name and trusted reputation as a sales tactic in the Pueblo West area.

Several San Isabel Electric members have reported experiences of Ion Solar sales representatives going door to door making claims that Ion Solar is working with San Isabel Electric on solar projects, working for SIEA or is affiliated with SIEA — all as part of their sales pitch.

“They are telling our customers false information about our business practices like what would happen to their rates if they went solar and also they are saying that customers will no longer get a bill from San Isabel Electric,” said Paris Elliot, spokeswoman for the utility.

Elliott said San Isabel Electric fully embraces solar power, the positive business opportunities solar power growth is providing to the Southern Colorado community, as well as the potential energy bill savings for some consumers.

“However, San Isabel Electric is not in any way affiliated with any solar contractor, or any other contractor of any other trade,” she said.

“This is starting to damage our reputation because our members are getting false information about solar.”

Elliott said the utility has its own solar energy facility.

“This is the second time in a year that Ion has been making these claims door-to-door. They said they were going to stop last year in August and they apologized,” Elliott said.

“They actually went to a San Isabel executive’s door as well as a board member.”

Elliott said the first instance occurred during July 2017. Ion Solar has made apologies by email and have promised to correct the problem in both instances.

“San Isabel Electric Association takes great pride in our ability to provide Southern Colorado with superior customer service, reliable power, local control and steady rates and we’ve done so for 80 years. The misrepresentation of Ion Solar’s relationship with San Isabel is confusing our Members, thus damaging our credibility and honorable reputation.” General Manager and Chief Executive Officer Reg Rudolph said.

San Isabel Electric is asking members who have been contacted by Ion Solar, or any other company misrepresenting San Isabel Electric, to email the name of the company, the phone number/means of contact and an explain of how they misrepresented San Isabel Electric to contactus@siea.com.

Members who are considering adding solar panels to their home or business are encouraged to contact San Isabel Electric’s Energy Services Department to discuss how it will affect your rate and system interconnection (net-metering).

Read at: https://www.chieftain.com/news/pueblo/san-isabel-warns-of-fraud/article_7185ec89-f149-5aac-8468-cba4596076be.html

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Solar installer charged with fleecing state, customers

Without proper consumer safety measures in place, it is far too easy for bad actors to prey on unsuspecting solar customers. Fraudsters are using state and federal programs to collect incentive money aimed at increasing solar usage without actually installing any solar panels. State’s must ensure any programs using cash incentives have adequate consumer protections to stop fraudulent collection of incentives.

Solar installer charged with fleecing state, customers

The owner of a Shelton solar power installation company has been charged with stealing more than $62,000 in state energy incentives and fleecing nearly two dozen customers in Fairfield and New Haven counties.

Christopher Stapleton, 56, of Fairview Oregon, was charged Friday with two counts of first-degree larceny and one count of first-degree larceny by defrauding a public community.

He was released after posting $100,000 bond.

State police said they received a complaint from the Connecticut Green Bank, a state agency created to accelerate investment in clean energy projects in the state regarding CatchinRays 2 LLC, of Kneen Street Extension in Shelton.

The Green Bank manages the state’s Residential Solar Investment Incentive Program which provides cost incentives to home owners and businesses who have solar power systems installed. The incentives are paid directly to the installers.

State police said in 2014 and 2015, CathinRays 2 received incentive payments from the Green Bank on behalf of 23 customers for a total of $62,0000.

However, a subsequent investigation determined that the customers, who had paid CathinRays 2 between $500 and $25,000, never had the systems installed, police said.

State police said the customers unsuccessfully attempted to receive refunds from CathinRays 2 and were owed a total of $125,000.

When state police later contacted Stapleton by telephone they said he told them he had been dealing with “alcohol abuse issues,” and had been unable to run a successful business. But they said he denied taking any money he wasn’t entitled to.

Read at: https://www.ctpost.com/local/article/Solar-installer-charged-with-fleecing-state-12926254.php

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Solar panel business owner changes pleas to guilty in fraud case

By Sherri Borden Colley

Consumers considering going solar should be wary of fraudulent solar companies. Unfortunately, fraud is a common trait in the newly sought out solar industry. Customers pay for solar panels, but never receive their purchase. Before installing rooftop solar, it is best to research the company and follow-up on reviews. 

Solar panel business owner changes pleas to guilty in fraud case

A Dartmouth businessman has changed his plea to guilty on two counts of fraud in a case in which several customers claim they lost thousands of dollars when they paid for solar panels that were never delivered.

Barry Pincock, 51, of Lakecrest Drive, changed his pleas Friday in Halifax provincial court.

The Crown offered no evidence on a third count of fraud and that charge was dismissed.

A judge has ordered a pre-sentence report, which will give the court more insight into Pincock’s background and crimes. Pincock returns to court Aug. 21 for sentencing.

Panels never delivered

In 2016, two men as well as the owners of Dominion Diving, a commercial diving company in Dartmouth, told CBC News that, altogether, they handed over approximately $67,000 to Pincock’s company, Werth Solar, but did not receive the panels. Other customers from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick also complained to police.

One unsatisfied customer, Kit Hood, took Werth Solar and Pincock to small claims court to recoup the $19,000 deposit he paid for a solar energy package. Hood claimed he had not received one solar panel.

A small claims adjudicator sided with Hood and said that Hood had been given “a total runaround” by a company whose excuses were “bordering on fraud.”

In a separate court case, in 2013, Pincock told police that his business partner, Brian Kenneth Penney, wanted to hire a hit man to kill him. Charges against Penney were later withdrawn after the Crown received new evidence and felt there was no chance of a conviction.

Read here.

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New Hampshire shouldn’t expand renewable subsidies on the backs of ratepayers

Family Businesses for Affordable Energy believes that New Hampshire ratepayers should not subsidize unsustainable and inefficient energy producers of any type and encourage the New Hampshire Senate to reject SB 446 in its current form. SB 446 would significantly expand the state’s net metering program by increasing amount of excess power solar producers can sell back to the utility company from 1 megawatt to 5 megawatts. In addition to exponentially expanding the net metering subsidy, the bill also propped up New Hampshire’s six remaining biomass plants with ratepayer money. SB 446 was on the brink of passage before legislators raised concerns regarding the tax consequences of the legislation. The subsidies for biomass were defended on the basis that those facilities are unable to compete against plants that run on natural gas and other lower-cost fuels. Ratepayers across the state would see a yearly increase of $20 million a year to prop up the plants. The House Science, Technology, and Energy Committee unanimously agreed to an amendment that eliminated biomass generators from the bill with the promise of subsidizing them via two other energy bills being considered. Representative Michael Harrington sponsored an amendment to reduce the rate for projects over 1 megawatt, which ultimately failed. The amended bill will now be sent back to the Senate. FBC opposes this bill because it perpetuates government support of favored electricity producers, forcing the rest of the market to subsidize expensive and inefficient technologies.

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