Not All Solar Contracts End Up Sunny

Not All Solar Contracts End Up Sunny

September 3, 2014

By Mark Mikulasik

You have a nice roof with a southern exposure or an un-shaded parcel of land – perfect to install solar panels in Thunder Bay or surrounding area, where sunshine is plentiful and makes solar contracts attractive. A vendor approaches you to sign a contract. The deal sounds too good to turn down – they do all the work, arrange the financing, and you expect to receive more than enough to pay the cost of the panels plus a little extra for your vacation fund or retirement.

We have had a steady stream of people recently who are disappointed that the deal turned cloudy.

As with any other contract, it is important to make sure that the deal you get in writing matches your expectations – we even have a case where the vendor now claims that the wrong figure was inserted as to how many kilowatts the system needed to produce before the property owner would receive a share of the profits.

Other things to be aware of in deciding whether to sign a solar panel deal:

  • Be informed- know what you are signing
  • Be informed some more- be aware that YOU are committed to financing- this can affect your credit if the deal goes sour
  • Consider the effect on the sale or refinancing of your property- will the financing affect marketability?
  • Know what equipment is being installed- we have had cases where the equipment installed did not have the capacity to generate enough power to pay for the system!
  • Follow up after the system is in service to make sure that you get the reports of the revenue, and that you are getting your fair share.
  • If your roof needs to be redone before installation- who bears that cost and if it is you, how much will that cost?

To protect yourself:

  • Do your homework – understand the equipment; the deal; the documents
  • Have a lawyer review the agreement before you sign – a short office visit to make sure your understanding matches what the agreement actually says is a worthwhile investment.
  • If the deal does turn sour, seek legal advice immediately.