Assembly approves consumer protection bill for solar industry

 

STATE HOUSE — The General Assembly today approved legislation sponsored by House Deputy Majority Whip Mia A. Ackerman and Sen. Jacob Bissaillon to protect consumers and ensure a healthy solar industry by regulating businesses selling home solar systems.

The legislation (2024-H 7603A, 2024-S 2801Aaa), which now goes to the governor’s desk, would set up a series of regulations to protect consumers, including requiring solar retailers to register both their business and a roster of all representatives soliciting sales in Rhode Island, conduct criminal records checks for all principal officers and sales representatives and follow municipal restricts on door-to-door sales and federal telemarketing rules. The Department of Business Regulation would have the authority and resources to investigate complaints and to impose administrative penalties, revoke a registration and order violators to cease and desist.

“Residential solar panels are an opportunity for Rhode Islanders to reduce their carbon footprint and save money on their electricity bill. However, the recent explosion of door-to-door solar panel sales have created a customer protection issue that the legislature must address,” said Representative Ackerman (D-Dist. 45, Cumberland, Lincoln). “This bill will implement common-sense safeguards for consumers and enable a trustworthy solar industry to flourish in our state.”

Said Senator Bissaillon (D-Dist. 1, Providence), “Rooftop solar benefits homeowners while also contributing to the clean energy transition that Rhode Island very much needs. Our state cannot afford to have a few bad actors destroy the public’s trust and slow down solar adoption. This legislation will provide Rhode Islanders confidence in the deal they are being offered and ensure that only those who are being honest with consumers can get a foothold in Rhode Island’s solar industry.”

According to the DBR, state agencies receive frequent complaints from customers about solar retailers, especially regarding aggressive sales tactics, lacking or misleading information about tax benefits and financing terms and misrepresentations about installation requirements.

Attorney General Peter F. Neronha applauded the passage of the bills and highlighted the urgent need for consumer protection in the solar industry.

“As the state’s Consumer Advocate, my office has seen a disturbing increase in deceptive solar sales practices,” said Attorney General Neronha. “Through numerous pending civil actions, my consumer protection team has led the charge in protecting Rhode Islanders from this conduct – ensuring that when Rhode Islanders invest in solar panels, their money goes to green energy rather than lining the pockets of unscrupulous brokers. I am grateful to the General Assembly for their action in the passage of this legislation, and I am also grateful for our continued partnership with the Department of Business Regulation, with whom we collaborated on this bill. When fully implemented through DBR regulations, this legislation will allow Rhode Islanders to confidently purchase solar equipment while supporting our state’s climate goals.”

The legislation is also supported by DBR, the Division of Public Utilities and Carriers, the Office of Energy Resources and members of the solar sales industry.

 

The Supreme Court is getting rid of a Trump-era ban on "bump stocks." The court ruled Friday that the firearm accessory that allows semi-automatic rifles to fire more quickly can't be included in a 1934 law banning machine guns. The decision was 6-3 on ideological lines, striking down a regulation imposed during the Trump administration. Despite the ruling, bump stocks remain illegal in 18 states.       The Supreme Court is not yet ruling on Donald Trump's claims of presidential immunity. The court did not make a decision on the consequential case today, but may do so on June 20th when its next opinions are released. The case impacts some of Trump's pending cases, including his alleged attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election. Trump argues he is immune from prosecution because his actions fell under official conduct that should be protected, and was not a private act.       Floridians can expect even more rain today after days of severe weather and flooding. Non-stop rain has drenched parts of the southern half of the state for days now -- including Miami. Governor Ron DeSantis already declared a state of emergency. Thunderstorm activity in the region is expected to subside by the weekend, but forecasters say flash flooding and urban flooding will remain possible through Saturday.       Kate, Princess of Wales, says she is making "good progress" in her treatment for cancer. In a rare statement Friday, the British royal said she is still undergoing chemotherapy and that she has "a few more months" of treatment remaining. She also announced that she will be attending a military parade Saturday to mark King Charles the Third's birthday. This will be her first official public appearance since she revealed she has cancer.       Ukraine is rejecting Russia's demands to bring the war between the two countries to an end. On Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said his country would end the war if Ukraine agreed to certain conditions. Those include Kyiv [[ KEEV ]] dropping its ambitions to join NATO, pulling out troops from four Ukrainian provinces claimed by Moscow. The proposal from Russia came just a day after the U.S. and Ukraine agreed to a new ten-year security agreement.       The USA cricket team is continuing to make history. The team has advanced to the next stage of the men's T20 Cricket World Cup after its match against Ireland was rained out in Florida Friday. The point earned by the USA due to the game being called off meant the team qualified for the Super Eight stage of the tournament. The USA will now be placed in a group of four of the final eight teams, with the top two teams from each group advancing to the semifinal round.