This opinion column was submitted by Margi Grein, senior executive of the Nevada State Contractors Board.
One of the many blessings of living in Nevada is the abundant and renowned Silver State sunshine. With an average of about 300 sunny days a year, Nevada provides residents with the perfect setting to incorporate energy-efficient solar power into their daily lives. Therefore, it’s no surprise that there are currently 84 solar companies employing more than 7,000 workers in Nevada, according to the Solar Energy Industry Association.
However, alongside the increased demand for solar power, there are also increased opportunities for deceptive business practices in the state’s residential solar industry.
Informing and protecting Nevada consumers
In an effort to protect and educate Nevada residents, the Nevada State Contractors Board is pleased with the efforts of Sen. Chris Brooks, who has led the public safety initiatives of Senate Bill 303, culminating in its approval by Governor Sisolak in the 2021 legislative session. The new law aims to improve consumer protection for all parties committing to connect a solar power system in their home.
Under SB 303, Nevada residential solar contractors are required to:
âº Obtain building permits;
âº Comply with the statutes and regulations of the NSCB in terms of procurement; and
âº Meet the requirements imposed by the Public Utilities Commission or other regulatory body throughout the completion of each project.
The new law also requires that any advertising or solicitation for residential solar projects be truthful, or the contractor may find himself subject to discipline by the NSCB. In addition, down payments are limited to $ 1,000 or 10% of the contract value, whichever is less. If an owner does not agree to the financing terms or cancels the financing in accordance with the Truth in Lending Act, the contract for the residential solar project is voidable. In addition to being held accountable by the NSCB, contractors who fail to fulfill their new responsibilities under the law may also be subject to disciplinary action by the Nevada Attorney General’s Office of Consumer Affairs.
Ensure the quality of future subcontracting work
Over the past five years, the NSCB has received 331 licensing complaints against Nevada solar contractors; in addition, 21 of the 226 contract licenses revoked during this period were solar contractors. The hope is that the new law created by SB 303 will significantly reduce or eliminate both the number of solar contract complaints and the need to revoke solar contract licenses.
Since 2016, complaints against illegitimate contractors have also resulted in 275 residential fund claims, awarding Nevada homeowners more than $ 3 million in damages and refunds. Over 60 percent of these claims (174) were filed against solar contractors, resulting in $ 767,000 in claims.
Simple steps to ensure contract reliability
While SB 303 provides additional consumer protections and public guarantees, there are several simple steps consumers can take to best ensure that they are hiring qualified licensed contractors.
Nevada residents should always consider the following steps when looking for a licensed contractor to hire:
âº Always ask for the contractor’s license number; this information must be displayed on all offers and contracts and is different from a Nevada commercial license.
âº Check the contractor’s license number on the NSCB website (www.nscb.nv.gov), the mobile app (NSCB Mobile) or by calling the board office (775-688-1141).
âº Obtain several quotes; having more than one offer will allow you to compare industry costs and make a more informed decision on who to hire.
âº Never pay cash – always by check or credit card. Make sure that checks are only payable to the authorized company providing the services, never to an individual.
More information, fewer consumer complaints
Having suffered the damage that can be done to homeowners in Nevada who are misled during their solar projects, the NSCB looks forward to seeing the new law led by Senator Brooks come into effect on October 1, 2021.
By standardizing contracting practices within the solar industry and providing better information to consumers, the NSCB believes the requirements of SB 303 will shed even more light on Nevada’s burgeoning solar subcontracting industry. and how to protect the public.
The NSCB encourages consumers to consult the resources available on its website, which provide advice on the new law, contractor requirements and consumer rights, as well as tips for hiring properly licensed contractors. If any issues arise with the work performed, project owners have four years from the date the work was performed by a licensed Nevada contractor to file a complaint with the NSCB for investigation and possible remedy of the validated issues.
Margi Grein is the executive director of the Nevada State Contractors Board.
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