Phoenix homeowner says 'going green' makes her see 'red' - KMOV.com

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Phoenix homeowner says 'going green' makes her see 'red'

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Going solar seems to be a growing trend, however Rachel Woolley says she decided to go solar, but after she did she says her utility bill actually went up. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Going solar seems to be a growing trend, however Rachel Woolley says she decided to go solar, but after she did she says her utility bill actually went up. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(3 ON YOUR SIDE) -

Going solar seems to be a growing trend, however a Phoenix woman says she decided to go solar, but after she did she says her utility bill actually went up.

"They sold us on the idea that with this number of panels we would have 100 percent of our energy needs covered."

Rachel Woolley says going solar was supposed to be a good idea for her Phoenix home. So, in August of 2016 when a salesman from a company called Sunrun knocked on her door, she listened to his sales pitch and took the plunge.

"Made it seem like we had everything to gain and nothing to lose by going solar.”

"Solar with Sunrun can save you money right off the bat by giving you a low predictable rate that is less than what you pay to your utility."

You can find Sunrun on YouTube where they boast how consumers can lower their electric bill by simply going solar.

According to Ms. Woolley, she agreed to lease the solar panels from Sunrun over the next 20 years.

In the agreement, Woolley’s monthly bills were supposed to be around $123 and she would also kick in another $25 a month to her utility company for a so-called grid fee.

Woolley says the total amount was lower than her traditional electric bill.

"We liked the idea of renewable energy, it makes sense especially in Arizona."

Woolley says she's extremely energy conscious. She has energy smart laundry detergent, an energy efficient thermostat and she also uses LED light bulbs.

"We've done our best to try to make it a little greener."

With those solar panels in place, Ms. Woolley expected to see big savings on her utility bills. But month after month, Woolley she says her bills have been higher than ever before.

"After over a year of being on the solar system we are paying more for energy now than before we went solar before we made any improvements to the house."

Woolley contacted Sunrun in attempt to figure out what could be going wrong. According to Woolley, Sunrun blamed her utility company.

So 3 On Your Side got involved and we asked Sunrun to investigate. They did. And in an email they apologized, saying Woolley was put on the wrong solar plan.

They write, "Our representative should have identified this rate structure when moving Ms. Woolley to her new solar plan and we are deeply sorry that in this instance they did not."

Woolley is supposed to be on a new solar rate. And get this, Sunrun says they're mailing Woolley a check for more than $900, the amount they say she overpaid by being on the wrong plan.

Thanks to Sunrun for making things right. And when she gets that check, we’ll let you know in a follow-up report.

Sunrun's statement to 3 On Your Side can be read as follows:

"We were surprised and disappointed to learn that Ms Woolley did not experience savings on her electricity bill that are typical of our customers once they move to solar power. 

After investigating her utility rate schedule, we learned that Ms Woolley was on the combined advantage 7pm to noon demand rate structure provided by Arizona Public Service (APS) and this rate structure generally does not allow for the savings that solar energy offers to many of our customers. Our representative should have identified this rate structure when moving Ms Woolley to her new solar plan and we are deeply sorry that in this instance they did not. 

In Arizona, we encourage customers to choose the new time-of-use rates without a demand charge because time-of-use rates are less confusing for households and allow greater savings.  Sunrun has regularly opposed imposing rates with a demand charge for residential customers because they are complicated, not customer-friendly, and generally less economical than a traditional volumetric rate or time-of-use rate.

With Ms Woolley’s consent, we will work with APS to move Ms Woolley to a more solar friendly rate schedule currently offered by APS and this will allow Ms Woolley to benefit from energy savings going forward. 

We regret any inconvenience experienced by Ms Woolley while she was on APS’ demand rate structure and will work with her to expedite a solution.

For further information on time-of-use rates, please see:" https://www.sunrun.com/go-solar-center/solar-faq/what-exactly-is-time-of-use

If you decide to go solar, APS offers eight things to know if you're considering rooftop solar.

Click/tap here to download the free azfamily mobile app.

Copyright 2018 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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Gary HarperGary Harper is the senior consumer and investigative reporter for 3 On Your Side at KTVK-TV.

Click to learn more about Gary.

Gary Harper
3 On Your Side

With more than 20 years of television experience, Gary has established himself as a leader in the industry when it comes to assisting viewers and resolving their consumer-related issues. His passion and enthusiasm have helped him earn an Emmy for Best Consumer Reporter from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. He’s also garnered several Emmy nominations

He has negotiated resolutions with companies of all sizes, including some of the biggest corporations in the nation.

Gary has successfully recouped more than $1 million for viewers around the state, making 3 On Your Side one of the most popular segments on KTVK and the station's Web site.

He's best known for investigating and confronting unscrupulous contractors. In fact, many of his news reports have led to police investigations and jail time for those who were caught. Viewers, as well as the companies and people he investigates, regard him as consistently being thorough and fair.

Gary has been with KTVK-TV since 1997. Prior to his arrival in Phoenix, he worked for WZZM-TV in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he was as an anchor and reporter.

Gary is from Chicago, but launched his television career in Lubbock, Texas, after earning a broadcast journalism degree from Texas Tech University. Following his graduation, he was quickly hired by KLBK-TV in Lubbock, where he enterprised and broke numerous exclusive reports. His aggressive reporting in Texas helped garner him Best Reporter by the Associated Press.

Gary has been married since 1994 and is the proud father of two sons. When he's not helping viewers, Gary is busy catching up on his favorite college and professional football teams as well as cheering on his beloved Texas Tech Red Raiders.

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