Going Solar at Home, the Next Steps...

Photos: Harry Strharsky

Late last year I wrote a blog post on how to go about researching and determining your needs to offset your electric utility bill by selecting and installing clean, renewable energy, rooftop solar panels on your home. https://10001ways.com/post/going-solar-step-by-step

Today I will be relating a cautionary tale about what happens after you sign a contract.

On November 4, 2020 I signed an agreement for a 4.251 kW system that would deliver 6,708 kWh annually to meet 100% of our electric needs with thirteen 327-watt Sunpower solar panels. It met my cash flow break-even goal of less than 10 years after rebates and other incentives. After researching business reputations and customer reviews online I selected the proposal from Freedom Solar, a regional sales, installation and warranty company doing business in Colorado and Texas.

The very next day I received a Welcome email from Customer Support and Scheduling detailing “The Next Steps to Your Solar Project.” These included: 1) Site Assessment & Design (2-3 Weeks), 2) Permits & Approvals (2-4 Weeks), 3) Installation (1-3 Days), 4) Inspection ( 1-4 Weeks), 5) Activation & Closeout (2-3 Weeks). So far, so good, a clear and concise outline of what to expect with a reasonable timeline.

Within five days of signing the contract I had an appointment within a three-hour window for a site assessment. On November 9 it was snowing all morning in Fort Collins. During the first break in the action when the wind died down we were visited by a company engineer with a drone to take pictures of the surface of our roof from every angle and to personally peek into the crawl space above our ranch home ceiling. The following day I received our first invoice for project initiation. It was promptly paid.

After not hearing anything for the next 10 days, I made an email inquiry as to the status of our solar project. I was told we were #20 in their queue. “At this time, we expect your installation to take place in Mid-Late December.” I then made arrangements for Freedom Solar to apply for approval from the Architecture Committee of our Home Owners Association (HOA) and I also signed a Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) Solar Purchase Disclosure. Then, once more, silence.