Speed Reads


Homeowners say they can't use their solar panels because they're too powerful

Looking to slash their electric bill, retired couple Ron and Sarah Hall installed solar panels on their Southern California home. Nearly a year later, they haven't saved a dime.

The panels are considered too powerful, NBC Los Angeles reports, and were never turned on. A company called Solar City installed 36 panels on the Hall's Lake Elsinore house for free; they would make their money back by filling out rebates through residential energy conservation programs. SoCal Edison, however, would not let the couple activate their system because it exceeded California's standards for residential energy production. "They're saying that the system that I have will generate 128 percent, that's 28 percent over what they estimated," Ron Hall said.

The problem isn't necessarily the fact that the panels would generate wasted electricity, NBC Los Angeles explains. Instead, the state is concerned that homeowners could sell their excess energy. A SoCal Edison representative said that a homeowner who produces excess solar energy is considered a potential energy retailer, and becomes subject to commercial business regulations. Solar City has removed the panels, and said because of a design flaw, they miscalculated how much energy the Halls needed. The whole experience is one that the family would like to forget. "It's frustrating," Ron Hall said.