“Free energy from the sun” isn’t so free after all

Caption: “Do you do solar?”

?There ain?t no free lunch? is a wise old saying. Or, as William S. Burroughs put it more eloquently, ?Never believe a whore that says she does not want money. The Hell she doesn’t. She wants More Money. MUCH more?.

The solar industry has been whoring itself out on the government dime for years, flashing its taxpayer-funded charms at passers-by. Now, more than a few gullible Johns are learning the bitter truth of Burroughs?s warning. Quote:

Homeowners who signed up for free solar panel schemes, which were popular a few years ago, now face problems selling their properties.

End quote.

The problem is that many people, eager to flaunt their green virtues, and lured by the whiff of free money, signed on for dodgy schemes like ?solar leasing?. Quote:

Valuable government subsidies designed to encourage the use of renewable energy led to the emergence of many new firms that offered free solar panels to homeowners who would agree to lease their roofs.

Homeowners benefited from free energy when the sun shone and the company, which retained ownership of the panels, pocketed the subsidies.

But now, years later, some of those who opted for the schemes are discovering that they are effectively trapped by the deals. End of quote.

As the government reduced subsidies, the get-rich-quick cowboys jumped ship, and flogged off their leases to other companies. Quote:

One reader said he was now unable to sell his home because of the existence of the lease, while others are locked in for more than two decades with no prospect of an exit.

Almost a million homes are equipped with solar panels. Most of them will be owned outright, but a large number are covered by leases. Over time, a series of cuts to the subsidies once offered by the Government meant many companies were forced into liquidation, which meant the leases were sold on.

The removal of the main subsidy, the ?feed-in tariff?, is due to take place in April, a move that is likely to worsen the industry?s prospects.

One reader took up a scheme operated by a company called Isis Solar 2 in 2011, by which he benefited from free energy.

The problems began when the 72-year-old tried to sell his home earlier this year and had a buyer pull out, largely because of the panels.

When he was asked to provide additional information to support the sale he tried to contact Isis Solar 2, but found the company was now dormant.

After researching on internet forums he came across Calder & Co, a firm of accountants linked to the company, and eventually managed to find the new owner of the panels. The company was unable to tell him how much he had benefited from the panels.

Initially saying it would cost ?10,500 to terminate the lease, the firm later backtracked, quoting him a price of ?23,000?Others now find themselves locked into long-term leases with no exit. Pam Suryo-Martono, 63, from Lancashire, is stuck in a 25-year lease with a company called A Shade Greener with no exit clause. End of quote.

It would be interesting to see how many homes in Australia and New Zealand are also signed on with these dodgy leases. From 2015: Quote:

Free panels place solar power within reach for kiwis?Energy firm Solarcity has announced a nationwide scheme where home owners can get solar panels installed on their roof for free, if they then buy the energy it produces. End of quote.

stuff

There isn’t a lot I agree with Derryn Hinch on, but he was right when he said that, while con-men are despicable, they wouldn’t have a market if people weren’t greedy.

There ain?t no free lunch, folks.

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