Energy Trust investigates misleading solar advertising

Many Portland-area homeowners received a misleading solar advertising mailer in early June, which led to investigations by utilities, state agencies and Energy Trust of Oregon.

The letter displayed an official-looking logo and claimed to be from the “Portland Solar Energy Department,” a fictitious department within the City of Portland. It touted local solar rebates and state tax incentives and offered to waive the “solar inspection fee” if customers acted quickly. Energy Trust was notified of the advertisement and immediately worked to find the sales organization and end the campaign. Due to its inaccurate and misleading claims, Energy Trust also reported the advertisement to the Oregon Construction Contractors Board (CCB), Oregon Public Utility Commission, Oregon Secretary of State, City of Portland, and local utilities.

Marketing tip
Third-party sales organizations can provide valuable advertising expertise and help grow your business, but be sure to review all messaging and sales materials before they go out. Remember, these sales organizations represent your company to your customers. If their messaging is confusing, misleading, or creates distrust, it will reflect negatively on your business. It can also jeopardize your trade ally status and can have unintended legal consequences.

Energy Trust can help you with the upfront cost of marketing and will preapprove messaging. We provide business development funds for approved marketing and training. To learn about business development opportunities for solar trade ally contractors, visit the Solar business development funds web page.