AMERICUS, Ga. (WRBL) – Imagine paying close to $500 in bills for electricity each month. That’s the reality for one resident in Americus.
Monica Brown, a long-time resident of Americus, made the investment into solar panels in hopes of cutting the cost of her electric bill and helping the environment, instead it’s backfired and now she’s paying the price.
“Right now I’m paying $249, plus a $177.02 because Georgia Power will not come out and flip the switch,” said Brown.
The $249 is to Georgia Power and the $177 is to Titan Solar, an Arizona based solar energy company.
Brown says she was told after making the investment into solar panels, this would essentially eliminate her electric bill, instead she’s been paying for both since September.
“It’s not so much the money, but it’s the trust,” said Brown.
Brown says the installation began in July. A mistake made by Titan Solar was discovered in August. The mistake was fixed, and the installation was complete on Sept 28th, with the stamp of approval from the city of Americus.
The only step remaining was for Georgia Power to perform a witness test. Georgia Power says this ensures everything is running properly and gives the owner permission to operate the panels, but could take up to 10 weeks to complete. But Brown says she is tired of waiting.
“I’m not sending another dime to your company. I’ve been a Georgia Power customer since 1988. I have paid my bill, I have not complained when there are outages, your people [Georgia Power] are always friendly when they come to the house, but you have left a bad taste in my mouth over this,” said Brown.
Brown says Georgia Power was able to perform the witness test on Nov. 17. Brown speculates a possible reason for the delay stems from staffing shortages, but in an e-mail response to News 3 Georgia Power denied any staffing shortage related issues. However, the company confirms they have noted an uptake in solar power applications, which can impact the timeline for these tests to be completed.
“If you knew you had all these solar panels going up on people’s houses, you should have hired people before you told us to go get solar power, don’t push something and push something and then say you don’t have enough people to finish the project,” said Brown.
Georgia Power also issued a statement to News 3, separating them from any third party contractor such as Titan Solar. The statement can be found below.
Georgia Power works every day to assist customers with solar questions, installations or otherwise support renewable energy development in Georgia. The company provides support and guidance for customers looking to install solar panels, and we can also enroll customers in a “non-install offering” like Georgia Power Community Solar or Simple Solar.
Georgia Power does not have exclusive partnerships with any solar installers. There are many good solar companies across the state. However, be cautious if anyone says they are an official Georgia Power solar partner. Customers should fully understand the terms and conditions of our programs and any third-party solar installation agreements. While rooftop solar installations can present the opportunity for bill savings, customers should be cautious about any claims that behind-the-meter solar will completely eliminate their Georgia Power bill.Craig Bell, Georgia Power Spokesman
Despite the hardships Brown has faced, she still believes in the power of solar energy.
“I shouldn’t of had to do this. I have had to take hours off work, I’ve had to make numerous phone calls, just to get what I thought was a great thing. I still think it’s going to be a great thing; I just don’t think I should have had to go through this,” said Brown.
Brown also has a strong message to others who might be considering making an investment into solar power.
“Make sure you know what you’re doing and maybe do a little more research than I did,” said Brown.
Brown told News 3 on Wednesday, Nov. 17 she received an update from Titan Solar that her solar panels are now producing energy.