We have all heard how easy it is to install a solar energy system and save the environment. But, here’s something you probably haven’t heard until now. There’s a nasty feud going on between many solar companies and Southern California Edison.
Some consumers are stuck in the middle.
Santa Barbara resident Rose Ary decided to install a solar energy system on her home in April. It took five months to get permits through the county and only three days to install the system.
“They said, well, now you have to wait 5 to 6 weeks for permission from Southern California Edison to hook up. I was surprised,” said Ary.
The company that installed her system sent the necessary paperwork to Edison and they waited. In the meantime, the system was ready to go. Ary just needed permission to ‘flip the switch’.
“Just waiting for them to process paperwork, not even to physically inspect or anything like that. It’s just about pushing the paper,” said Abe Powell.
Powell owns a solar company called Solforce Systems, Inc.
“As a small solar business owner for the last 13 years, the biggest obstacle we’ve faced has been Southern California Edison,” said Powell.
He claims Edison intentionally delay’s the process for new solar applications by losing paperwork and changing its applications two or three times a year so companies like his have to resubmit and start the process all over again.
“The hard part for us solar guys is that we’re all scared to call them and make a fuss because what happens is, your applications get lost for sure,” said Powell.
Powell is not alone. NewsChannel 3 spoke with owners and employees of other local solar companies who said the same thing. However, they were afraid to talk on camera about it. They believe Southern California Edison says it supports the solar industry publicly, but behind the scenes, the utility is doing everything it can to snuff them out.
Rondi Guthrie, spokesperson for Southern California Edison said that’s not true.
“Delays can be experienced due to missing or incomplete applications, also potentially due to the planning and review from the customers city,” said Guthrie.
She also said they’ve received 25,000 applications this year to interconnect to Edison’s Net-Energy Metering Program and the vast majority of those applications are completed in thirty working days.
“Yea, it takes months to do something that should take minutes. It’s very simple,” said Powell who has taken his complaints to state officials in Sacramento.
NewsChannel 3 asked Guthrie if it’s required that Edison send a crew out to check the system once its installed. She said that is not a requirement. If Edison crews don’t have to do physical inspections once a solar system is installed and it’s just a matter of checking an application, why would it take so long to get permission to connect to the grid?
“You know, we have a process it goes through and like I said, it’s generally completed in thirty days, the vast majority,” replied Guthrie.
Abe Powell believes it boils down to money.
“The monopoly public utility companies see the solar industry as a direct threat to their revenue stream and they deal with us accordingly,” said Powell.
As for Rose Ary, she finally received permission to ‘flip the switch’ and connect to Edison’s grid after waiting for two months.
“As soon as you contacted Southern California Edison, things began happening. They immediately called me. Thank you so much, really appreciate all of your help,” said Ary as she wrapped up her interview with NewsChannel 3.
Powell took his complaints all the way to the California Public Utilities Commission.
Southern California Edison denies that it’s trying to hurt the solar industry in any way. Edision officials told NewsChannel 3 they are improving their system for the 21st century.