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Letter: Consumers should know the risks of rooftop solar

Florida is known as the Sunshine State for good reason. There is sunshine all year round. When filtered through solar panels, the sunlight produces electricity, which can be good. But there is a dark side to solar, particularly the risk and unknown problems that come with solar panels. And folks who sell these products don’t always tell potential customers about the negatives. In other words, it’s not all honey and no bees.

Solar installation companies don’t want to talk about the real cost of financing. They talk about low interest rates but omit the service fees and additional costs that run the rate higher than financing most automobile purchases. The price of solar doesn’t end there.

The granddaddy of all negatives is the potential loss of homeowner’s insurance for those who have solar panels and the inability to get coverage for those purchasing a new home. Potential customers need to know that when they put solar panels on their roofs, their homeowner’s insurance could drop them like a hot potato. Ouch! 

Fewer insurance companies will even cover solar panels on homes in Florida. It’s happening more and more. Homeowners who want solar are learning the hard way that some insurance companies are saying goodbye and canceling existing policies. And others who have written policies in the past are no longer writing new policies.

Remember having no insurance places your mortgage in default, and that leads to foreclosure. Often when homeowners get dropped, they only have thirty days to find a replacement. That is, if you can find a replacement. Or off to foreclosure you go. 

The home insurance market in Florida is in a free-fall crisis, and insurers are looking for excuses to drop policies. You might not want to install solar and give them another excuse to drop you.

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In addition, some utility providers have a clause in their contracts that says if any damage is caused by the panels, “you as a homeowner are responsible to pay for all of that damage.” Often insurers will give an example such as a surge running through your panels that causes damage to the grid or other homes in your neighborhood. Those types of damages can be huge and costly.

Touting the benefits of climate change legislation and going solar can be misleading if the negatives and/or challenges are not also mentioned and explained. 

We at Seniors Across America speak out on behalf of seniors in an effort to protect older folks, who are often prey for solar peddlers. At the end of the day, the message for people considering solar is “caveat emptor,” a common law term that means “let the buyer beware.” 

You wouldn’t buy a car or a house without knowing all the pros and cons. So, the same goes for solar. Shining a brighter light on the dark side of solar will allow consumers to make informed decisions based on all the information available – good and bad.

John Grant, President
Seniors Across America
Tampa, FL

John Grant is a former State Representative and State Senator, an estate planning attorney, and a member of the National Senior Citizen Hall of Fame. He has spent much of his career working on behalf of seniors. John is continuing the advocacy work by heading a new venture called Seniors Across America to continue speaking up for our elderly population.

The opinions expressed by letter or opinion writers are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of AlachuaChronicle.com. Letters may be submitted to info@alachuachronicle.com and are published at the discretion of the editor.

  • This is very important information to know. In addition, as insurance companies are now essentially requiring that a roof with a 30 year life line be replaced in 20 years, doing so would require removal of a solar panel system to install a new roof. This would indicate to me that the life line for a solar system is associated with this new insurance requirement emerging rapidly. With all the issues discussed in the piece, any significant cost recover is hard to imagine.

    • The cost to remove and replace is minimal. Break-Even is under 5 years. That’s a 20% ROI when you invest savings.

  • In most cases, people installing solar panels today will never break even, much less save anything. The only ones in town to save are the few, like former mayor Queen Peking Hanrahan, who got in on the GRU Feed in Tarriff (FIT) that pays them 20 times the price for electricity so that they have no bill and receive credit each month. That enrollment has long since ended and cost us GRU rate payers each month until they die.

    • It’s basically all a feel good farce, just like the biomass plant you paid $750 million for after paying over $100 million for the first 5 years of operation. All just to burn ten thousand trees up each and every day it runs, spewing 100 years worth of carbon decay, heat, smoke, and particles into our air every minute. Renewable? BS! Why are no other biomass plants being built?

  • I’ve always wondered why they don’t put them on vertical utility poles, out back in the yard or up front by the street? It makes no sense putting them on rooftops.

  • Very misleading how former useless legislator Grant says there are problems with panels, then posits problems that are not inherent to the panels.

  • This is the most misleading op-ed I’ve ever read. Electricity prices are going through the roof and going solar doesn’t make sense? So why are installations hitting record levels? Don’t believe this partisan garbage. This guy is either paid to say this or has no clue. Probably both.

    • I thought the article was good to point out that there are externalities to all renewable power systems that can add costs beyond the simple comparison of the reduced electric bill to the payments on the system.

  • I’d suggest you call your insurance company and ask THEM what the issues (if any) are.

  • I’ve had solar for 4 years. No regrets so far. New roof was done prior to solar.

  • This article is COMPLETELY INCORRECT! The author has some amazing credentials but clearly does not know what he is talking about when it comes to solar. Perhaps he met a solar representative that gave him poor information and had a bad experience!

    First, there are plenty of companies that insure solar… call this P&C agent and get a quote 727-807-7772. I wouldn’t want to be insured by a carrier that doesn’t allow me to insure my home’s upgrades! That is ridiculous. If I can buy insurance on my pet I can assure you there is an insurance company that will insure your solar system.

    Solar actually reinforces the roof strength with lag bolts to roof trusses and many panels have passed the world’s strictest Miami Dade Wind requirements.

    Next, SolarInsure.com offers a full SERVICE warranty for 30 years which includes any roof leaks, any panel, inverter, battery replaced for FREE for a one-time price rolled into solar loan.

    Yes there are bank fees to buy down the loan rate…That is how banks make money on every loan on the planet. Current home loan rates are near 6%, the same is true for solar. If you don’t like bank fees pay CASH! The ROI (return on investment) is about 10% annually.

    Solar is one of the best investments you can make because it is a guaranteed investment return. WHY? Because you need electricity to live. You can rent it from utility forever and have the price rise or you can own a system that creates power for the next 50 years that creates free energy from the sun!

    The price is now getting 60% plus government incentives with 40% Tax Credit plus Tax Deductions worth 20%- 40%.

    If you want a proposal call SolarRoofConsultants.com 561-878-6776.

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