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Scrutinising Solar Proposals

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Have you just received a proposal for a solar installation and thinking that it looks attractive? How do you know a good proposal from a bad proposal?

We come across quite a few solar proposals on behalf of our clients as well as have approaches to us directly that sell all the benefits of solar as a great investment. Don’t get me wrong, I think solar PV is great and the concept is fantastic, but don’t be fooled into thinking it is a good investment on a financial basis only.

A common thing we come across within proposals is a lack of detail. This is a problem and can be where ‘errors’ are hidden by less scrupulous companies. A solar company can, and sometimes has to, make a number of assumptions in providing a proposal to you but we want to see detail because we want to know:

  •  The proposal is specific to your business and your location and not based on a general approach that makes assumptions on an average situation;
  • The equipment being used is reputable and of reasonable quality;
  • Predicted calculations are based on real historic data of consumption and generation data;
  • Assumptions for increases in electricity prices aren’t overstated (thereby reducing payback calculations and increasing the attractiveness of the offer);
  • Potential hidden costs and add-ons are factored into and included in the bottom line price.

All of this ensures we can compare apples with apples. I have had a situation previously where I have compared 3 quotes for a client but could not provide a recommendation on any of them for lack of detail. I really couldn’t tell what our client was signing up for.

If in doubt, ask questions and ask plenty of them. A reputable company will be happy to answer all your questions and work through providing you with a better understanding. Not just because they want a quick sale, but because they want to be around in years to come – unlike some other companies. Better still, ask us to independently evaluate your offers. There is much more to it than just the dollar figure at the bottom of the page.

I recently evaluated a solar proposal for one of our clients for a 15 year solar power purchase agreement (PPA) from a large, supposedly reputable solar company. Through the process I raised concerns about the proposal and the company. Fortunately, our client went with our advice and declined the offer. Just this week, that company went into liquidation. That could have been a disaster!

If I provided you with only the actual likely financial analysis for solar PV alongside other investments, it’s unlikely you would go ahead with any solar proposal. But solar installations are much more than a financial decision. They are a statement of environmental cause, a visual reminder of renewable action and a feel-good moment of resource redirection. Go ahead and make an informed decision.

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