SolarCity traditionally installs solar panel systems for free, then sells the energy produced at a much lower rate than utility companies–or so they say. They see the business model as a common-sense solution to reducing carbon emissions while making a profit. If customers are provided the opportunity to choose clean energy over dirty energy, it makes perfect sense that they would choose the former.

Still, many customers have lodged complaints against SolarCity.

According to Jeff Leeds of Northern California, he was pitched the same deal. More importantly, it came with a performance guarantee. Free installation, a small upfront fee, and a lesser bill. If the panels failed to produce enough energy to cover the cost, SolarCity promised to cover the difference.

It turns out that the panels did fail to produce the needed energy output, but Leeds had a difficult time recovering losses incurred from the higher bills. After the case resulted in bad publicity, SolarCity took a second glance and promised yet again to reimburse Leeds.

Similar feedback has brought to light shoddy installations, overcharging, and terrible customer service.

Complaints against SolarCity haven’t stopped clean energy momentum

Cases like these have fallen short of reducing the impact of climbing utility prices. More government subsidies are available than ever before, making more people open to alternative options.

SolarCity is taking advantage of the renewed interest by working on its image.

Instead of fighting with utilities, SolarCity has opted to sell its own distribution systems. In order to combat severe weather which often causes interrupted service, the company will offer Tesla lithium-ion batteries in addition to rooftop solar panels. This system will also provide energy when traditional power systems fail.

You might be surprised to know that it’s not always about how sunny a particular market is, either. It all depends on the local economies. Oregon is a state which doesn’t see as much sun as, say, California or Arizona, but the state provides phenomenal incentives for citizens who adopt solar energy programs. Officials often demonstrate that solar panels function even on cloudy days in Germany. The country is one of the solar capitals of the world, and yet they have little light.

Do you think clean energy companies have a bright future?

See more about the longtime feud between SolarCity and traditional utility companies:


About Author

Jeff is a self-proclaimed pragmatic futurist; that is, he has high hopes for absurd life-altering technologies which sound too good to be true, and probably are. Although he writes on a variety of subjects, his real passion is for technological innovation and the people who make it happen. By day, he enjoys fuzzy bunnies, kittens, puppies, roller coasters and a sardonic written word or two. By night, he's busy running MMR, replaying a random Final Fantasy game, or pretending to be Batman. He currently resides in Upstate NY.