Going Solar Without Getting Burned: the Importance of Local Solar Service

Positive Energy Solar installing solar panels on flat roof in New Mexico

The future is bright for solar in New Mexico – now more than ever – thanks to the signing of the Inflation Reduction Act which upgraded and extended the Federal Tax Credit to 30% for the next 10 years! While this is a significant win for solar, not all of the recent NM solar headlines have been positive as an influx of solar companies coming into New Mexico have led to inconsistent client experiences, misinformation, performance issues, BBB complaints, and news stories covering the struggle some have had after installing solar panels with less trustworthy solar companies.

While we’ve previously talked about the different types of solar company you can work with—and avoiding third-party sales companies, as well as tips to compare solar proposals and companies—this blog will focus on the 2 key lessons we believe homeowners can learn from our decades of solar experience in New Mexico.

Lesson 1: Beware the solar door knocker & sales-only company.

A man knocking on a door with a clipboard

Door knocking in and of itself isn’t bad (though it can undoubtedly be annoying at times) and we respect the people who have hustled and beat the pavement to increase solar awareness in our state. We believe that most of the individual folks who practice solar door-knocking are motivated by the same goals as us — to help with our clean energy transition and fight climate change.

Despite their level of good intentions, the structure and incentives used by door knockers mixed with the high turnover and lack of proficient industry training inevitably lead to misinformation and lack of after-sale support. Let’s dive into the complexities of this a little more.

Where did all these solar door knockers come from?

Anyone can start a solar sales company these days--subbing out the actual work to third-party installation companies like Titan and Solcius, there’s hardly any barrier to entry. These organizations are typically fueled by social media campaigns promising “free” solar, coupled with high-pressure sales tactics spread far and wide via door-to-door sales campaigns. This approach bypasses the need for the company to:

  • Invest in the local community by offering living wages or full-time benefits

  • Fully understand the nuances of local solar policy

  • Properly train and/or support their workers (revolving door)

  • Commit to servicing their clients, long term

This lack of geographic anchor is great for quick, nimble growth and short-term profits — but at what cost and who pays the price? Ultimately, it’s mostly the homeowners they leave without proper after-sales support that get left holding the bag. Homeowners can find themselves stuck with a system that doesn’t save as much as it was sold to, technical issues and/or property damage from a poor install, unexpected wait times before their system is fully operational, or bad customer service when these issues come up.

Most door knockers themselves are independent 1099 contractors with no base salary, no benefits, and little support. If they aren’t selling, they aren’t getting paid.

Lesson 2: For a better solar experience, choose a local solar installer with sustainable growth.

Positive Solar Energy Van

We’ve always said, local and sustainable is the way to go — whether that’s with us, or one of New Mexico’s several other local solar providers. It’s important to understand a solar company’s structure, longevity, and handling of after-sales support.

As we said earlier, solar companies whose main focus is fast, aggressive, growth and expansion often use door knocking, independent contractors and third-party subcontractors because it’s an easily replicable system with low upfront cost or risk for the solar sales company. Many of these companies move from state-to-state chasing incentives, and New Mexico happens to have great solar potential and incentives. Ultimately, the lack of geographic anchor or investment in a service department means customers get left behind with solar panels that are meant to function for 30+ years, and no one to turn to when service calls come up.

In contrast, Positive Energy Solar is born, bred, and firmly tied to New Mexico. We offer full-service sustainable energy solutions and handle every aspect including consultation, design, financing options, permitting & utility interconnection, installation, and after-sales support through a dedicated solar service department. For over 25 years we have weathered the ups and downs of the “solar coaster” in our state. We believe in responsible solar energy implementation which includes honest, transparent, solar information and ensuring the capacity to service the work we perform for the life of the solar panels and equipment. This is our home and we’re going to be here to serve it for the long term.

Why Does Sustainable Business Matter?

Except for being in the same industry, we share very little in common with these solar sales companies. As a Certified B Corp, our focus is not on growth and profit alone but on a triple bottom line – people, planet, prosperity. While we don’t ignore profit, the money we make is not our sole focus, rather it’s what we use to fuel our mission to improve the way people make and use energy. This approach to business is more sustainable for both our business itself and our stakeholders who are our team members, customers, our community, and our planet. We’re proud to stand with companies that are trailblazing new ways to use business as a force for good.

Lesson for Homeowners

We definitely would love to be your solar installer, but more than anything, we want you to make the best solar decision for your home, business, and/or family. So remember, if you go solar make sure it’s with a locally owned, sustainably grown NM solar installer (even if it’s one of our competitors).

How to identify a local, sustainably grown solar company:

  • Are they headquartered in New Mexico?

  • How long have they been installing solar panels in New Mexico, specifically?

  • Do they perform their own installations or subcontract the work out?

  • How do they handle service claims & do they have a dedicated service department?

  • Are they investing and giving back to their community?

  • What are their company values, and are they something you want to support?

  • What are others saying about them? (Check reviews from multiple sites, look for consistencies in lower-rated reviews, and look for reviews from long-time clients that have systems operating for some time.)

  • Check out our solar proposal checklist for more →

Once you’re ready to see the specifics of solar for your home, it’s time to talk to your local, New Mexico solar experts. You’ll find Positive Energy Solar’s approach is consultative, without the high-pressure sales tactics. Our goal is ensure you fully understand what your options are and to allow you to make an informed decision that is right for you and your family.

Amicus Solar Cooperative

Not from NM and looking for a sustainable solar company near you? Amicus Solar Cooperative is a great place to start your search for other locally operated, sustainable, and just all-around good companies. We’re proud to be a member-owner of this collective of solar companies dedicated to our industry’s success (and not just profit). Many of these solar companies are B Corps as well!