Going Green? Know Your Vendors and Contractors!August 21, 2012
How to navigate the do's and don’ts of solar energy installations.
As I mentioned in my previous blog “2011 A Good Year for Solar Energy System Installations”, the demand for energy efficient products has skyrocketed over the past several years. The boom in the industry has opened the door for a flood of new product vendors and contractors. Like any other industry, there are qualified vendors and contractors and others who miss the mark. When considering an energy efficient system, be it solar, wind or something else, it is vital to check out the reputation of the manufacturer of product and the contractor who is installing it.
The following is an example of a recent solar panel installation gone wrong. John Smith was trying to do the right thing when he decided to hire a company to install solar panels on his nearly 50 year old home. Smith, an avid green activist, was interested in installing solar panels both for economic and environmental reasons.
Little did he know, the company he hired was inexperienced and to top it off, they had never installed a solar system before! Smith’s company put on a good show and he thought he got a great deal. Shortly after the installation of his 2,000 watt solar photovoltaic system, he discovered, through a series of unfortunate events, that the installation was done incorrectly.
When Smith’s utility bill reflected only a percentage of the potential savings he was told he would reap, he had a suspicion something was wrong. It only got worse from there – faulty wiring, roof reinforcement and unsafe electromagnetic radiation, all very costly to fix.
Even when you take care to research the supplier/contractor, things can still go bad. A case in point would be the Portsmouth, Rhode Island wind turbine. In April of 2008, the Portsmouth Economic Development Committee (PEDC) signed a contract with AAER, Inc., a Canadian company, to manufacture a wind turbine. On the PEDC’s website, they mention their “extensive feasibility study” conducted to make sure the voters of the town got what they voted for. I have no doubt their study was complete based on the facts and circumstances they had at the time. What the PEDC could not foresee was that the town’s wind turbine would malfunction and be shutdown. To make matters worse, AAER has recently declared bankruptcy and gone out of business. It had been in business since 2003. The company had a good reputation in the industry. It had done work for the U.S. government and other high profile customers. PEDC’s due diligence could not predict the future. The failure of the turbine gearbox and the company that manufactured it, seem to be just bad luck for the town of Portsmouth taxpayers. The cost to repair the unit will be approximately $460,000.
Are you looking to install a solar system or generate green energy? Contact Robert A. D’Andrea, CPA at 888-KLR-8857 or email TrustedAdvisors@kahnlitwin.com for more information or assistance.