Deputy Whip Ackerman introduces consumer protection bill for solar industry


STATE HOUSE – New legislation introduced by Deputy Majority Whip Mia A. Ackerman would protect consumers and ensure a healthy solar industry by regulating businesses selling home solar systems.

“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.”

According to the Department of Business Regulation, 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.

Representative Ackerman’s legislation (2024-H 7603) 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 DBR would have the authority and resources to investigate complaints and to impose administrative penalties, revoke a registration and order violators to cease and desist.

“The message this bill sends is clear: Rhode Islanders deserve a solar power market with trustworthy sellers,” said Representative Ackerman. “Law-abiding retailers shouldn’t have to lose out to companies engaged in fraud and deception.”

The bill was heard in the House Corporations Committee in March, where it received testimony in support from DBR, the Division of Public Utilities and Carriers, the Office of Energy Resources, and members of the solar sales industry.