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June 22, 2012
New England Ideal for Solar

Homeowners who think New England does not get enough sun to justify an investment in solar electricity are “just plain in the dark,” says a Connecticut-based solar company.

Jeffrey Mayer, CEO of Soluxe Solar, said that the most popular objection to solar installations is “not enough sun.” 

“Believe it or not, the sunlight in New England is only a little less than Florida, about 15%,” he said.

As a result, Mayer claims, solar panels are as good an investment in New York as they are in states like Texas.  “When you take into account the higher cost of electricity, as well as the incentives from state and local governments, solar is actually a better investment up north,” he added.

Soluxe Solar sells solar panels to homeowners and small businesses in the Northeast.  Mr. Mayer said that many customers raise objections to solar because of their perception that there is not enough sun in northern lattitudes.  Often they overestimate how much solar roof panels will cost, he added.

“We have shown consistently that customers in New York and Connecticut can realize considerable savings with affordable solar power,” he said.

May 15, 2012
Darien Company Urges Bill of Rights for the Solar System

It sounds like the stuff of a science fiction thriller:  A company in Darien has called for the adoption of a Bill of Rights for the Solar System.

Only the solar system, in this case, is not the Milky Way but the rooftop solar panels that homeowners are starting to install on their homes.

Soluxe Solar, a marketer of photovoltaic panels for single-family homes and small businesses, called on its competitors this week to adopt a Bill of Rights for consumers of solar.

“Solar is taking off as a popular home improvement, but unfortunately some contractors are beginning to cut corners and deliver shoddy installations,” said Jeffrey Mayer, CEO and president of Soluxe Solar.

“Before the industry gets a black eye we are hoping that our competitors will agree to adopt a basic set of rights.”

Soluxe Bill of Rights is patterned on a similar document that Mr. Mayer developed at MXenergy, a retail energy provider that he served as CEO for 12 years before its sale to Constellation in 2011.

The Bill of Rights, which can be found on the company’s website, include:

  • A right to a readable, plain language contract, in minimum 12 point type, with no hidden fees or conditions
  • A right to a clear explanation of the costs and benefits of solar panels, including no misleading claims regarding future utility tariffs or false promises of savings, and
  • A right to receive real-time monitoring data via remote computer or cell phone technology

Mr. Mayer noted that Soluxe Solar has been waging a vigorous campaign to highlight the risks to homeowners of most long term leases and said that the Bill of Rights emerged from the company’s frustration.

“Time and again we see solar installers promising consumers that they will save money with solar,” Mr. Mayer pointed out, “but in fact the fine point of the contracts may result in customers paying more for solar than they would pay their local utility companies.”

December 15, 2011
Buy, Don't Lease, Says New Solar Company

Darien, CT, December 15, 2011 – Consumers should steer clear of $0 down solar installation offers, according to a Connecticut-based solar company.

Jeffrey Mayer, CEO and president of Soluxe Solar, issued a statement today criticizing a number of competitors who are promoting 20-year lease deals that require no down payments.

“You know what they say:  Sometimes a deal that sounds too good to be true is just that,” he said, adding:  “It’s not true.”

Mayer warned consumers to read the find print of their contracts.  “Homeowners around the country are getting suckered into deals that they will regret,” Mr. Mayer said.  “Some homeowners  thought they were going to save money with rooftop solar and are going to end up paying more for their solar than they would pay to their local utility,” he said.

A number of residential solar marketers offer consumers to install solar panels for as little as $0 down in exchange for a 20-year lease.  The homeowner pays the installer each month for the electricity generated from the panels and at the end of the lease has the option of returning the panels, renewing the lease, or paying down the residual value of the lease.

Under the lease arrangements, the consumer does not own the panels.  Instead, they are owned by banks or companies such as Google that take advantage of tax credits and benefits.

“Most of these long term leases have escalators in them that will likely exceed the utility price of electricity in a few years,” Mayer warned.  “Over a 20 year period, consumers could end up paying substantially more than they would have paid if they stayed on utility power.”

Mayer acknowledged that consumers with leases may benefit if the panels have problems and need to be replaced.  But he argued that the risks outweigh the benefits, especially since most panels carry a 25-year warranty.

“Solar panels have no moving parts and are virtually maintenance free,” he said.  “In exchange for a fairly worthless maintenance guarantee the customer is giving up the flexibility to move and is decreasing the value of his home.”

Mayer cited studies that show that homeowners that buy their solar panels realize an increase in the value of their homes.  By contrast, he said, homes with leased panels may actually decrease in value.

“Good luck trying to get a homeowner to buy a house where the electricity costs for solar are greater than the utility’s prices,” he said.  “Besides, if somebody leases panels and tries to move in the first five years they will have to pay a penalty equal to the value of the tax credits that the owners will give up,” he said.

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"Where was Soluxe when I was rebuilding my own house after a fire? I cringe when I think of how confusing it was to find contractors I could trust. I'm afraid to think of all the options I should have considered but didn't know about."