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Owners paying for solar energy system but panels aren’t connected to the grid

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Posted at 4:19 PM, Mar 03, 2022

PINELLAS COUNTY — Twenty-five years. That’s how long Jerry Feola will spend paying for his new solar system.

The St. Petersburg Beach man purchased a $35,000 rooftop solar system from Vision Solar. The couple figured the $110 monthly payments would be offset by the savings on their energy bill.

Vision Solar installed the panels in November, but in February, ABC Action News found they were not connected to Duke Energy's grid. And a check with St. Pete Beach officials revealed the job was never permitted and therefore, never inspected.

Feola said he made dozens of calls to Vision Solar over the last few months before contacting ABC Action News. When contacted by email about why there was no permit and why the system wasn’t connected, Vision Solar had this response:

“We appreciate your inquiry. Our interaction and reputation with our customers are of paramount importance to us.  At this point, there is no solar permit.  The application has been submitted, and all steps are being taken to complete the process and complete the installation of the system so that it can be used as soon as possible.  In response to your question, yes, you are correct, the system is not yet functioning, it is not yet generating power.  Due to delays with the municipality and internally, the system remains dormant as of today.  Permits are handled directly by our company and not by a third party.  Last but not least, this particular installation was a result of an internal scheduling error in which the scheduling department sent out the installation team before the permit had been received.  This error has been addressed and as indicated, we are working to complete that portion of the process.”

Duke Energy said solar contractors usually take care of getting systems tied to the grid. However, Duke worked with the homeowners to get the connection completed so they could start saving money on their power usage.

Experts say before making any huge purchase do your homework. Get multiple bids and make sure the company is licensed and insured and check to see the company's records with the Florida Department of Consumer Services and the Better Business Bureau.