Thinking of getting solar panels installed on your house or office? Great! Just don’t let your solar company rush you into a deal, and make sure they calculate the size of your system based on the correct power consumption data from your building. Any error will cost you for decades.
That’s our advice after having had a bad experience dealing with Grand Junction’s High Noon Solar. In their zeal to rush us into a soon-to-expire lease deal, High Noon miscalculated the size of power system we’d need. Now we’re stuck with a system that’s too small to offset our power bills to the extent that High Noon promised.
Shortly after we moved into a new home, we contacted High Noon to add a solar power system to our house. The house had been vacant for about a year and a half before we bought it, so there was no recent track record of its power usage. High Noon said we would need to generate just six months of power bills for them to calculate the size of the system we’d need. We moved into the house in December, and in six months High Noon called us back, got our power bills from XCel and calculated the size of the system they said we’d need for our house. Under the lease deal they offered us, we would make an up-front payment of about $2,700, and after that our monthly power bill would be a standard payment of $32 and change for the next 20 years. That sounded good to us, so we signed the deal. But after the system was up and running, we kept getting power bills from XCel far higher that what High Noon had promised. After doing some research to find out why, we discovered that High Noon’s 6-month bill-collection period — from December until May — failed to take into account the peak summer months of our home’s power usage, which included power suckers like a swamp cooler, multiple ceiling fans and a pool filter. You’d think a solar power company would know that power usage spikes in the hot summer months and they’d need to account for that for when calculating the size of a system. But High Noon used only data from late winter and spring to calculate the size of system we’d get. We depended on High Noon to be the experts in stuff like this, but they failed us completely on that count.
Why would High Noon make such a serious error? Because they rushed our job to get it in under the wire for this particular time-limited lease deal, which at the time was about to expire. We contacted High Noon and worked with them in good faith to try and rectify the problem. They calculated the number of extra solar panels we’d need to increase our power generation to the level they had told us would keep our bill closer to the promised $32 per month, but their best offer was to knock $1,000 off an additional $9,000 solar system, meaning we’d have to shell out $8,000 to fix their mistake.
We pointed out that they had failed to account for a notoriously high-usage time of the year in their calculations, but High Noon insists they’re not at fault; they say they did what they were required to do to accurately predict the amount of power our solar system would generate, but they “can’t predict usage” — a statement that essentially blames us for their mistake.
But High Noon could have more accurately predicted our average power usage. All they had to do was wait a few more months to see what our summer usage would be. Instead, they rushed us into signing up for our system without giving us any information about our real underlying choice we’ve come to find out we had: either jump on a soon-to-expire lease deal and get a system that’s inadequate to offset our power bills as promised for the next 20 years, or wait a 3-4 more months and risk losing that deal, but come out with a more adequate system based on a more realistic picture of the energy use in our home.
High Noon never gave us that choice. We never even knew there was a choice involved. Instead, they rushed us into installing a solar system they designed using insufficient data, and we’ll be paying for their mistake for the next 20 years.