New Yorkers have been hit hard by shady energy companies known as ESCOs. We spend a lot of our time on the phone with people from around the state, raising awareness about local community solar gardens–and based on that experience, we can tell you two things:
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1. If you’ve been burned by an ESCO, you’re not alone.
Seriously. We hear these stories every day. And papers like the Village Voice have backed them up with hard facts. Representatives of ESCOs (also known as “third party providers”) have been known to:
- Pose as employees of the local utility company, offering a discount to switch their energy provider to one with “fixed rates”.
- When drastic rises in utility rates don’t materialize, customers end up paying more for their energy, and worse, ESCO customers often find that discounted energy costs are replaced by inordinately high prices within months of them signing up.
- Worst of all, some have alleged that ESCOs target low-income communities, elderly groups, and communities where English is not the primary language.
Some of the worst offenders have even faced class-action lawsuits over their shady practices. These practices are wrong. They take advantage of the good intentions of people who want to protect the environment and save money to support their families, and instead leave these individuals worse off.
2. Solstice is not an ESCO.
Community solar providers are different from ESCOs. Like their name would suggest, ESCOs offer the option of choosing where your energy supply comes from. Community solar acts more like rooftop solar: you get credits on your electric bill for the energy your panels produce, and instead pay your community solar provider. The difference on your end? This structure means that instead of offering a fixed rate energy price–or one that rises at a fixed rate over time–community solar offers a guaranteed rate of savings on the energy your panels produce. So while your energy costs may fluctuate from month to month, at the end of the year, you’ll see savings on your energy costs. And if you ever want out, you have that option. Our most recent projects have no cancellation fees (or any other hidden fees). All you’d have to do is provide two month’s notice so we can find someone else to fill your spot, and we would go our separate ways.
A different approach
So Solstice is not an ESCO, in legal terms, or in practical ones. But there’s more to it than that. We make a constant effort to be upfront with our customers. We try educate you about the energy issues that can affect you, to understand your priorities, and to inform you about your options and the costs and benefits of each. We’re not looking to give you the hard sell–we’ll take the time to walk you through the contract and answer any questions you might have.