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Arizona bill would disclose solar panel leasing, purchase costs to homeowners

PHOENIX — A bill making its way through the Arizona Senate would require companies to disclose the costs of leasing or owning solar panels to homeowners.

Republican State Sen. Debbie Lesko said she wrote SB 1465 after an elderly couple in her district purchased solar panels only to find that some of the claims made by the seller were embellished or false.

“The salesman actually told my constituents that the value of their home was going to go up $25,000 once they put the solar panels on their roof,” she said. “Well, the opposite has been true — they can’t even sell the house.”

Lesko said she wants to see more disclosure by solar companies so consumers have a better understanding of the pros and cons when leasing or buying solar panels.

“I would like the companies to disclose very common sense things, like what’s the total cost over the 20-year lease, what are the payment plans, how many payments are there (and) what’s the lease payment,” she said.

Advocates for the industry see the bill as another attempt to hinder the growth of solar.

Attorney Court Rich, senior partner with the Rose Law Group who represents the Alliance for Solar Choice, called the bill “death by a thousand cuts” and said it will end up costing solar companies time and money to meet the new requirements.

“Putting unneeded regulations on industry — one of the fastest growing industries in the entire country — is not the way to send out the message that Arizona is open for business,” he said.

Rich said he believes the bill is another attempt to preserve the profits of public utilities that stand to lose money should solar continue to grow in Arizona.

Lesko argued her bill would make consumers prepared to enter long-term agreements worth tens of thousands of dollars and the requirements are in line with similar leasing and financing agreements.