California to standardize disclosures for solar contracts, protect solar customers

California solar power

Gov. Brown signed AB 1070 (Gonzalez Fletcher) into law last week. The bill previously unanimously passed the California Assembly and Senate. AB 1070 creates new and important consumer protections measures, including standardized and simplified disclosures, for all residential solar customers.

“CALSEIA greatly appreciates the efforts of Assemblywoman Gonzalez Fletcher to protect consumers and applaud Governor Brown for signing AB 1070,” said Bernadette Del Chiaro, Executive Director of the California Solar Energy Industries Association (CALSEIA). “We support this new law because it simultaneously helps eliminate confusion in the marketplace while also reigning the handful of errant contractors. It does this without inadvertently harming the ethical California business men and women who are critical architects of California’s clean energy future.”

AB 1070 requires Contractors State License Board (CSLB) on or before July 1, 2018, to develop a disclosure document that must be provided to consumers prior to sale, finance or lease of solar installation. In addition, the law requires the California Public Utilities Commission to develop standard inputs for calculation and presentation of energy savings to potential buyers.

“We should make it as easy as possible for Californians to use solar power and other clean-energy sources,” added Assemblywoman Gonzalez Fletcher, author of the bill. “But it’s very expensive and very intimidating for homeowners to invest in solar power. It’s a challenge figuring out the honest companies from the ones trying to rip you off. The more protection we can provide consumers, the more comfortable they’ll be purchasing solar power at a time when each of us must do our part to combat climate change.”

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Last week, the Governor previously signed two other important consumer protection bills, SB 242 (Skinner) and AB 1284 (Dababneh), which provide additional consumer protections for Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing of clean energy projects. SB 242 mandates PACE providers call homeowners to ensure they understand the terms, and AB 1284 requires the Department of Business Oversight to regulate PACE providers and that PACE lenders to ensure borrowers have the ability to repay their loans obligations.

Since solar investments are independent, voluntary choices made by consumers, consumer protection is considered the cornerstone of the solar industry. With the signing of these three strong bills – AB 1070, SB 242 and AB 1284 – California took major steps to increase protections for consumers in the 2017 legislative session.

— Solar Builder magazine

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