The California Solar & Storage Association works to uphold the highest industry standards by promoting best practices and protecting consumers.
All members must comply with our Code of Ethics as well as our NEW Consumer Protection Rules to be considered in good standing. An Ethics Committee investigates complaints from customers and engages the appropriate state authorities when necessary.
Our Code of Ethics
The California Solar & Storage Association and its members recognize important obligations they have to the general public, to their customers, to the solar industry, and to related professions and industries. These obligations bind the members of the Association to conduct business and promote their products and services in a manner which assures the public health, safety and welfare through careful design, installation, operation and maintenance of solar energy systems, and which contributes to the professional advancement of the solar and energy storage industry. To fulfill these obligations, our members pledge to uphold the following Principles:
Members shall hold paramount the safety, health and welfare of the public in the performance of their duties.
Members shall act as faithful agents in professional matters for each employer or client.
Members shall maintain the ethical standards of advertising, selling, installation and service guided by the principles of honesty, integrity, and compliance with applicable laws.
Members shall avoid deceptive acts in the solicitation of solar and energy storage work.
Members, to the best of their ability and knowledge, shall install systems in compliance with applicable codes and standards.
Members shall offer and honor clear, understandable warranties that comply with all applicable state and federal requirements.
Members shall not falsify or allow misrepresentation of their professional qualifications (license status, years in business, etc.) as a properly licensed contractor.
Members shall present honestly the capabilities, performance, and energy savings potential of products and systems.
Members shall employ well-trained sales personnel to provide customers with up-to-date, understandable product information.
Members shall quote realistic prices and completion dates, and absent any unforeseeable factors, shall strive to fulfill the estimates.
Members’ proposals shall include all known costs necessary for the project to comply with applicable building codes (electrical, structural, etc.) and pass inspection.
Members shall not knowingly present bids on work with the intent of profiting from change orders (which is considered a significant deceptive practice).
Members shall perform contracting services only in their area of expertise.
Members shall not affix their signatures to any plans or documents dealing with subject matter in which they lack competency.
Members shall be guided in all their professional relations by the highest standards of integrity.
Members shall admit and accept their own errors when proven wrong and take appropriate action to correct the error.
Members shall observe and foster the highest standard of safety and working conditions for employees.
Members may freely engage in competitive advertising and promotion that is truthful and non-deceptive. However, Members shall not, directly or indirectly, falsely or maliciously malign the professional reputation and practices of other members.
Members shall actively participate in the training of skilled tradespeople for the future welfare of the solar energy industry.
Members shall not use false or misleading pretenses to attract an employee from another firm.
Members shall endeavor to expand public knowledge and appreciation of solar energy and its positive effect on the environment.
Members shall protect the solar energy profession from misrepresentation and misunderstanding and avoid all practices which are likely to discredit the profession or deceive the public.
NEW! Consumer Protection Rules
INTRODUCTION: These rules, and the principles on which they are based, do not constitute legal advice. Each Member should consult its own counsel in connection with the items mentioned below. Where rules reference compliance with existing law, they do so for educational purposes and to bring heightened awareness to members. These rules are mandatory and apply directly to Members. CALSSA recognizes that Members hire subcontractors and vendors to provide goods and services for their projects and their business (“Vendors”). Members shall be held accountable for any violation of these Consumer Protection Rules.
All CALSSA Members Must:
Meet all applicable licensing and registration requirements, such as
Home Improvement Salesperson (“HIS”) registration with the California Contractors State License Board (“CSLB”);
CSLB licenses in the appropriate classification for the work performed; and
Lender license requirements, as applicable.
Respect consumer privacy, including complying with all applicable privacy, telemarketing, door-to-door sales, and email solicitation laws and regulations.
Consider a consumer’s mental capacity and ability to understand the terms of a contract and adjust their approach in response to that capacity.
Not mislead or deceive consumers (directly or by omission). Special attention must be paid to material aspects of a solar offering, such as
Company affiliation or endorsements.
Lead Generation Consumer Protection Rules
NOTE: While CALSSA cannot address every claim or circumstance that may arise, the following rules are based on the above “General Rules” and provide guidance on specific topics. These rules should be interpreted broadly to fulfill the intent of their consumer protection focus, the Code of Ethics, and the General Rules stated above.
At a minimum, Members shall take reasonable steps to oversee lead generation Vendors who have contact with consumers, including by:
Verifying that the Vendor understands and is capable of complying with relevant laws as well as the CALSSA Code of Ethics and these Lead Generation Consumer Protection Rules (“Consumer Protection Rules”).
Requesting and reviewing the Vendor’s policies and procedures and training materials and identifying any inconsistency with these Consumer Protection Rules.
Including clear expectations in its Vendor contracts regarding compliance with applicable law and these Consumer Protection Rules.
Monitoring Vendor compliance with these Consumer Protection Rules.
Taking prompt action to address any problems caused by a Vendor’s failure to follow these Consumer Protection Rules.
Prior to contracting with a telemarketing lead generation Vendor, Members shall conduct a reasonable due diligence investigation to ensure that the Vendor has established and actively enforces policies and procedures to comply with the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (“TCPA”), including but not limited to the federal Do Not Call Registry (“Federal DNC List”).
Members shall maintain their own internal Do Not Call list (“Internal DNC List”) and provide it to their telemarketing Vendors at least once per month.
Members shall run contacts obtained from lead generator Vendors against both their Internal and Federal DNC Lists before contacting those leads over the phone.
To encourage Vendors’ compliance with these Telemarketing Rules, Members should consider including provisions in their contracts with telemarketing Vendors that:
Require Vendors to comply with the TCPA and other local, state, and federal laws.
Allow the Member to withhold compensation or terminate any Vendor who is discovered making unsolicited telemarketing calls in violation of the TCPA.
Allow the Member to require any Vendor who is the source of ten or more complaints made to the Member within one month to retain, at the Vendor’s expense, a reputable, third-party to audit the Vendor’s practices.
Require the Vendor to identify itself by name on all telemarketing calls it refers to the Member and otherwise refrain from attempting to mislead consumers about the origin or nature of the call.
Require the Vendor to comply with rules governing registration of fictitious names.
At least twice each calendar year, Members shall conduct a random audit of all their telemarketing Vendors to confirm the Vendor is complying with applicable law and is not causing the Member to violate these Consumer Protection Rules.
Prior to contracting with a lead generation Vendor, Members should conduct a reasonable due diligence investigation to ensure that the Vendor does not use misleading tactics or materials, including without limitation:
Use of the term “free” (or any similar phrasing including “pay nothing” or “eliminate your bill”) unless the consumer will truly pay nothing for the solar energy system or the energy it generates.
Claiming that the Vendor has a relationship with, or is endorsed by, any entity with which it has no formal relationship or has not received an endorsement, including any utility or governmental entity. This rule includes claims that the government “wants you to go solar,” using photographs of elected officials to imply a relationship or product endorsement, or any other similar misleading statement.
Misleading or inaccurate claims about net energy metering or the availability of rebates or incentives (such as the expiration or value of the ITC).
Characterizing any rebate, credit or incentive as “guaranteed” if the rebate, credit or incentive includes conditions and requirements (which most, if not all, do).
Advertising the inclusion of “free" items (such as vacations or benefits unrelated to home improvement) that have no direct relationship with the solar/storage contract and/or the cost of which is included with the solar/storage contract, but not separately identified.
To encourage Vendors’ compliance with these Advertising Rules, Members should consider including provisions in their contracts with lead generation Vendors that:
Require the Vendor to obey the Advertising rules listed in Section 1.
Allow the Member to withhold compensation to any Vendor who is discovered violating the Rules in Section 1 or otherwise using deceptive or misleading tactics or materials.
Prohibit the Vendor from attempting to mislead consumers about the origin or nature of solicitations.
Allow the Member to terminate its contract with any Vendor the Member reasonably determines has violated any of these Consumer Protection Rules.
Permit the Member to conduct random quarterly audits of the Vendor to confirm the Vendor is complying with applicable law and is not causing the Member to violate these Consumer Protection Rules.
On at least a quarterly basis, the Member shall conduct the quarterly audit described above in Section 2(e).
Licensure & Registration Rules
Prior to contracting with a lead generation Vendor who will be involved in selling home improvements in California, the Member shall conduct a reasonable due diligence investigation to ensure that the Vendor’s salespersons, including those engaged in door-to-door communications, possess HIS registration as required under California law.
To encourage Vendors’ compliance with these Licensure and Registration Rules, Members should consider including provisions in their contracts with lead generation Vendors that:
Withhold compensation to any Vendor who is found to be conducting sales activity without the appropriate licensure or registration.
Require the Vendor’s salespersons to associate any relevant home improvement salesperson (“HIS”) registration with the Member company.
Permit the Member to conduct random quarterly audits of the Vendor to confirm the Vendor is complying with applicable law and is not causing the Member to violate these Licensure and Registration Rules.
Sales & Contracts Rules
Persons soliciting, selling, negotiating, or executing contracts for the installation of a solar energy system on an existing residential property must be registered with the CSLB as a home improvement salesperson (“HIS”) as provided under California Business and Professions Code (BPC) section 7152.  Home improvement contractors (as defined in BPC 7150.1) who employ such persons shall notify CSLB in the manner required by BPC section 7154.
Before completing the sale, financing, or lease of a solar electric system, Members shall provide the customer a Solar Energy System Disclosure form as provided under BPC section 7169.  The foregoing requirement shall not apply if the system is installed as a standard feature on new construction.
If a customer is obtaining PACE financing:
The Member shall ensure the customer that the property owner receives (i) a Right to Cancel document as provided in California Streets and Highways Code (SHC) section 5898.16, and (ii) a Financing Estimate and Disclosure form as provided in SHC section 5898.17.
The Member shall perform in a manner consistent with, and shall not facilitate or cause a violation of the requirements specified in, SHC sections 5900 – 5954.
Any Member who is a PACE program administrator (as defined in SHC 5902(f)) shall conduct a recorded confirmation call with the property owner as provided in SHC section 5913.
Members who orally solicit or sell a residential home improvement contract (as defined in BPC 7151.2) for a solar electric system that the customer will finance through a power purchase agreement or lease, or another form of Member-provided financing (including PACE), shall conduct a recorded call with the customer to verify the information described below (“Installer Confirmation Call”). If the project involves PACE financing, the Installer Confirmation Call may be combined with the recorded confirmation call required under SHC 5913. For other projects, the Installer Confirmation Call must occur before construction begins, and the Member must permit the customer to orally cancel the contract any time during the Installer Confirmation Call. The requirements of this section do not pertain to cash sales. Installer Confirmation Calls must cover at least the following topics:
Confirm the customer’s name and contact information including email.
Confirm that the salesperson (i) identified her or himself, (ii) their relationship with the appropriate contracting company, and (iii) did not indicate any relationship with a government entity, government program, or local utility.
Confirm the customer’s preferred language.
Offer to and conduct the call in the customer’s choice of English or Spanish, and invite the customer to provide an interpreter if she or he prefers a different language.
Confirm that the contract and sales process were conducted in compliance with relevant language laws.
Confirm terms associated with:
Confirm that the customer understands that they will continue to receive utility bills (depending on the utility) and true-up bills regardless of the system size and financing model used. Confirm the customer understands what a true up bill is and when to expect it.
Confirm that the customer received, reviewed and where required, initialed or signed all guides and disclosures required by applicable law, including but not limited to the “Solar Energy System Disclosure Document” under California Business and Professions Code § 7169 and the PACE Financing Estimate and Disclosure under California Streets and Highways Code § 5898.17.
Ask if a customer is on a subsidized rate (such as CARE), and if they are, verify the customer understands they may pay more for their choice of going solar.
Confirm that the customer received a copy of their contract.
If applicable, confirm the customer understands that all future communications will be sent electronically.
Confirm the customer understands what warranties are included and their responsibilities under those warranties.
Confirm that the customer understands what may happen if the home is sold.
If the project includes a battery storage system, confirm the customer understands: that the installation process may require additional steps, what in their home will be backed up, and how to use the backup outlet in case of an outage.
Members who provide their customers financing to purchase solar electric home improvements (as defined in BPC section 7151) must conduct recorded confirmation calls (“Lender Confirmation Call”). A Lender Confirmation Call must take place before the start of construction and customers must be permitted to cancel the project contract any time during the call. Lender Confirmation Calls must include at least the following topics:
Questions verifying the customer’s identity and contact information.
Explanation of ITC mechanics and eligibility and its relationship to any payment obligations. For example, does the customer have sufficient taxable income to make use of the federal tax credit for this solar system?
First Payment Timing (i.e. Your first payment of $___ to us will be due after we start paying the installer for your solar project. We make our first payment to [the installer]. Your first payment to ______ is due [date]. In some cases, your first payment may come due before your solar system is producing electricity and this can result in you having two bills.)
Payment Method (Check/ACH) (i.e. addressing ACH interest rate).
Unless the contractor provides payment and performance bonds per Business and Professions Code § 7159.5, contractors may not (under § 7159) charge for work not yet performed, collect deposits greater than permitted by law, or request payment in full until the project has passed inspection by the local building department.
In calculating estimated customer savings, projections should be based on the customer’s specific utility and any annual utility escalator rate should not exceed the U.S. Energy Information Administration California residential electricity price increases over the previous ten years, or the CPUC’s standardized inputs per AB 1070 once they are available.
 See http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?lawCode=BPC§ionNum=7152.
 See http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?lawCode=BPC§ionNum=7169.
 See http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?lawCode=SHC§ionNum=5898.17.
 SDGE 10 year rates here: https://www.sdge.com/total-electric-rates; PG&E 10 year rates here: https://www.pge.com/tariffs/electric.shtml#RESELEC; SCE historical rates here: https://www.sce.com/regulatory/tariff-books/historical-rates