‘Beware of wrong advice from solar panel companies’

The Consumer Council has urged people who plan to set up solar panels under the government’s feed-in tariff scheme to make sure the devices comply with the law.

Under the scheme, people can sell solar and wind power they generate into the grid at a rate about five times higher than the normal tariff rate.

But the council’s Chief Executive, Gilly Wong, said on Monday that it had received complaints about wrong advice given by installation companies.

“There are complaints relating to the claims of the contractor over whether your electric system meets the requirement of the power company. For example, the illegal construction on your rooftop. In many cases, the contractor said that it is not necessary to fulfill all the lands and buildings regulations, but this is completely wrong,” she said.

In one instance, a woman was advised by a company that she can keep an exempted unauthorised structure on her rooftop, and a canopy with solar panels can be built next to it.

But she was later told by the Buildings Department that a rooftop where the system would be installed has to be cleared of unauthorised works.

Other complaints were related to delays and failures in installing the solar panel systems or unsatisfactory maintenance services.

The council said it received 18 complaints regarding solar energy systems in the first 10 months of this year, compared to 15 cases the whole of last year.

The council added that the systems must pass tests performed by the relevant power companies and be registered with the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department as a power generation facility.