Rep. Deborah Ruggiero D-Dist. 74, Jamestown, Middletown)

New consumer protections are expected to be in place next year for the rapidly growing number of Rhode Islanders who participate in state incentives to install and connect residential solar arrays.

Rep. Deborah Ruggiero — a strong proponent of renewable energy who has sponsored laws that helped pave the way for growth in renewable energy in Rhode Island — said she is very pleased with the progress of new consumer disclosure forms developed by the Office of Energy Resources. She proposed legislation (2019-H 5991) early this year asking the Office of Energy Resources to develop greater consumer protection measures for homeowners who invest in solar.

“I’m truly thrilled that Rhode Island’s residential solar programs are booming, and that thousands of homeowners are now benefitting, creating green jobs and reducing our state’s reliance on fossil fuel energy. With such rapid growth of the industry, though, it had become clear that consumers need a little more information about their rights and how the programs are designed to help them. I’m very grateful to the Office of Energy Resources and its staff for this effort to help make it easier for Rhode Islanders to go solar with confidence in their investments,” said Representative Ruggiero (D-Dist. 74, Jamestown, Middletown) in a press release.

The Office of Energy Resources has developed consumer disclosure forms for participants in the Renewable Energy Growth program and the Renewable Energy Fund to ensure that consumers are aware of important information such as the expected performance of their system and how much shade will affect it, whether their warrantee is transferable, and their responsibility for costs related to their panels if their roof needs to be replaced during their solar array’s lifetime.

The forms are awaiting final state approvals from the state’s Commerce Corporation and the Public Utilities Commission, and are expected to be in place for the 2020 round of applications to the state’s renewable energy programs.

“When I began working on renewable energy legislation in 2014, there were a dozen companies in Rhode Island that installed solar panels. Today, there are over 52 companies because of the success of these programs. It’s important for consumers have accurate information from the solar companies; this is a big investment for home owners.”