JACKSONVILLE, Fla — Action News Jax Investigates a solar panel company that local homeowner Jacqui Rivera hired to do more than save money, but her sunny outlook turned cloudy. “I’m trying to do everything I can to save the earth,” she said.
Being a retired, 100% disabled Navy veteran, Rivera also wanted to save money. So, when a salesperson knocked on her door one day, she said yes. The company was MC Solar out of Tampa.
Rivera said she was convinced to pay $54,000 to install solar panels and batteries. She said she was told it would reduce her bills to zero in the long run. But the numbers do not add up. Turns out she was in the dark because she missed something.
The contact shows the $54,000 solar panels are only supposed to result in saving $34,298.67 over 30 years, meaning a net loss for Rivera of $19,701.33. And based on her income as a disabled vet, she does not qualify for tax rebates or credits to make up the difference.
She tried calling the company but could not reach a person to speak with, “Nothing. ‘Someone will be right with you.’ I took a shower, brushed my teeth, everything, still on hold. No one came to the phone.” Wally Conway is a solar expert with HomePro Inspections. He said, “It’s [solar] kind of sexy, kind of cool, lots of incentives but typically doesn’t save any money.”
Conway said a homeowner can save money by changing their behavior by targeting drafts, air leaks, and outdated heating and cooling systems without going solar. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, those practices can save 10%-20% a year.
JEA is adding more solar to its energy mix and is expected to have 375,000 megawatt per hour of capacity by 2028. To put that into context, one megawatt is enough to power 1,000 homes at a time., It helps lower their costs, but not necessarily yours as much as you think.
We compared Rivera’s electric bill from year to year. In February 2022 before solar the bill was $180.35. A year later in February 2023 with solar, her bill was $140.38. It included $29 credit for producing excess electricity. It may have been more, but in 2018, JEA reduced the amount it paid solar customers for that excess electricity by 70%. Rivera said the MC Solar salesperson did not mention that.
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She said she feels misled, “I’m not trying to say the solar panels don’t work not trying to give them a bad name the company is doing that because they are not doing their job.” Rivera is not the only unsatisfied customer. MC Solar has an F rating with the Better Business Bureau including 135 complaints in the past 12 months. In some cases, customers aren’t even turned on.
According to the Florida Attorney General’s Office, it has received 146 complaints since 2020.
And there is a Facebook group called, Citizens Against MC Solar. Some of the people involved with MC Solar tell Action News Jax there is internal turmoil related to the business dealings. Ben Becker will update the story as new information becomes available.