Solar power companies: The good, the bad, and the ugly
Solar power producers in Minnesota and across the country have been making headlines in recent months for their continued aggressive marketing and aggressive pricing of solar power products.
But in the process, they’ve become increasingly visible to the public, and their aggressive marketing tactics have prompted the state of Minnesota to take some serious action to make solar energy more affordable and accessible to all Minnesotans.
Solar power is now an affordable, reliable source of energy, said Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson, a Democrat who was elected to the Senate in 2018.
Swanson’s office filed a lawsuit last week against Sunrun, a Minnesota-based company, and SolarCity, a New York-based solar energy company.
Swanson said she’s confident that the Minnesota lawsuit will serve as a catalyst to change the solar energy industry and encourage more solar companies to take on these challenging challenges.
Solar companies are now “under attack for not being able to produce the power that we need,” Swanson said.
“There’s an opportunity here to bring solar power to more consumers and create jobs for more Minnesots.”
The lawsuit alleges that Sunrun and Solar City have violated federal and state laws, including the Fair Labor Standards Act and state environmental laws.
According to the complaint, Sunrun “uses deceptive and unfair trade practices” to obtain contracts with solar power companies and to deny customers a fair and equitable price for the electricity they use.
Sunrun’s practices include requiring solar power manufacturers to pay SolarCity commissions based on a predetermined number of kilowatts of power produced per month, a practice that violates the Fair and Affordable Labor Standards Acts.
In addition, the complaint alleges Sunrun has “deceptive and unfair” pricing practices that prevent solar power customers from obtaining a fair price for their electricity and other services.
“Sunrun has engaged in conduct that violates numerous federal and Minnesota state laws,” Swanson wrote in the lawsuit.
“This includes, but is not limited to, the Fair Credit Reporting Act and Minnesota Consumer Protection Act, and is illegal.”
Swanson’s lawsuit, filed on behalf of the Minnesota Energy & Utilities Commission, asks a federal judge to order Sunrun to pay a $5 million fine and to stop misleading consumers about the cost of solar energy.
Solar Power Consumers are facing an increasingly expensive solar energy market.
Last year, the Minnesota Legislature passed a law that limits solar companies’ incentive payments, which were previously tied to the price of solar panels.
That law, known as the Solar Investment Tax Credit (STIC), has helped solar companies create new solar power projects.
But many solar companies are struggling to keep their projects going, and in a bid to keep the industry afloat, Sunracom, a subsidiary of Sunrun that is part of the Sunrun Group, has increased incentives for solar power.
Sunracoms new incentive package, announced in August, includes $3 million for new solar projects and $4 million for existing projects.
That $4 billion investment will go towards building the largest solar project in Minnesota history, and it includes incentives for developers to purchase solar power from the company.
Solar company officials say they have been working to find ways to keep incentives affordable for solar customers, but Swanson said that the Legislature’s solar investment tax credit has caused the industry to struggle.
“Solar companies are making some of the most significant investments in Minnesota,” Swanson told Newsweek.
“We know we need to keep that investment and reinvest that money in the solar industry, so that it can continue to grow and continue to attract and hire talent.
The Solar Investment Credit Act has been a major impediment.”
Swanson said the Legislature must ensure that solar companies that use the Solar Investments Credit Act are not left out of the renewable energy economy.
“It’s time to get rid of this unfair incentive structure that incentivizes companies to keep making big investments in solar power,” she said.
Sunpower’s spokesperson, Jim Miller, told Newsweek that the company believes that the SolarInvestment Credit Act “does not create a competitive advantage” for solar companies.
“The solar industry has been successful in reducing its costs and improving its efficiency for decades,” Miller said.
The lawsuit also highlights the lack of transparency and transparency from solar companies in how their incentive packages work.
“At times, solar companies have tried to hide the incentives from customers by not disclosing the terms of their incentives,” Swanson’s complaint reads.
The solar industry’s problems are exacerbated by the increasing cost of photovoltaic technology. “
As the industry continues to compete, the Solar Industry Association will continue to work with lawmakers to address solar industry incentives and transparency.”
The solar industry’s problems are exacerbated by the increasing cost of photovoltaic technology.
In Minnesota, solar power producers are now able to use cheaper photovollectric materials that can be found on panels manufactured by solar companies, Swanson’s attorney wrote.
The cost of this technology has dropped significantly since 2011, but it’s not cheap.
Last fall, Sunpower announced it was planning to build the largest-