Crackdown on solar panel ‘cowboys’

A consumer website is launching a crackdown on ‘cowboy’ solar panel installers who use intimidating tactics to sell panels at the wrong tariff level. Renewable energy website YouGen says it […]

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By Vicky Ellis

A consumer website is launching a crackdown on ‘cowboy’ solar panel installers who use intimidating tactics to sell panels at the wrong tariff level.

Renewable energy website YouGen says it began the campaign after receiving a growing number of complaints from concerned consumers.

It warns “unscrupulous” installers are trying to cash in on the confusion around the Government’s Feed-in Tariff (FiT) incentives.

The Government is challenging the current FiT levels in the Supreme Court which could affect the amount of subsidy for people who installed panels between a window period of 12 December and 3 March.

If the Government is unsuccessful in its appeal the rate for this period will be 43.3p but if successful, the FiT will be 21p.

Some ‘cowboy’ dealers are still selling on the 43p rate though, warns YouGen.

Cathy Debenham, founder of YouGen said: “It seems there are a small number of cowboy operators who are willing to say anything for a quick sale.

“Consumers can feel quite intimidated at times in the face of a barrage of cold calling, leaflet dropping and in some cases, door-stepping and the supposed deals being talked about can look extremely attractive.”

Twenty solar firms have joined the campaign which has set up solar panel checklist and a database which customers can check to find recommended installers in their a local area.

The advice includes getting more than one written quote for panels and checking the warranties provided by the installer.