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The U.S. government does not provide free solar panels, an Energy Department spokesperson told PolitiFact.
The Facebook post promising free solar panels links to another site with a disclaimer: "‘No Cost’ means that you may not be required to put any money down at the time of installation if you qualify. Solar is not free, but it usually saves homeowners thousands of dollars more than the initial investment."
On Facebook, a man styled as a news anchor claimed there’s no need to buy solar panels, because U.S. homeowners can get them for free.
"Do not buy solar panels! It’s the latest announcement from the government," the man said in the July 11 Facebook post. "You see, our government just had an urgent meeting and we’ve just been informed that, with the goal to reduce carbon emissions, they launched a program called the 2023 Solar Incentive Program, and anyone who owns their home and lives in the United States can now qualify to get a full, state-of-the-art solar system at absolutely no cost from the government."
He continued, encouraging people to complete an online application to have a crew come install a rooftop solar system at no cost.
Don’t do that. Offers that promise free or extremely low-cost items when those things typically come with high price tags are often scams. PolitiFact frequently debunks such claims on social media, so we decided to investigate this no-cost solar panel promotion.
This post was flagged as part of Meta’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)
(Screenshot from Facebook.)
The "2023 Solar Incentive Program" is an empty promise. American homeowners might be eligible for federal tax credits for solar installations or state subsidies for solar energy, but not free panels.
The U.S. government does not provide free solar panels, said a U.S. Department of Energy spokesperson. The department urges people to report scams to the Federal Trade Commission.
"As more people choose solar energy, the increase in popularity has opened the door for some bad actors who are spreading misinformation," wrote Becca Jones-Albertus, the director of the Energy Department’s Solar Energy Technologies Office.
PolitiFact turned up no search results for the "2023 Solar Incentive Program" on government websites.
The Facebook post’s link to "see if you qualify" took us to a Smart Home Savings page, which we’ve archived here so you can avoid similar websites in the future.
Near the bottom of that page, there’s an important disclaimer: "‘No Cost’ means that you may not be required to put any money down at the time of installation if you qualify. Solar is not free, but it usually saves homeowners thousands of dollars more than the initial investment."
Although there are no federal programs to install solar panels for free, there are some real programs that could make it more affordable.
The Inflation Reduction Act, which President Joe Biden signed into law in August 2022, expanded the solar federal tax credit, for example. Americans might be eligible to receive a 30% federal tax credit for installing a solar photovoltaic system through 2032.
"Some states subsidize solar energy for income-qualified households," Jones-Albertus said. People can verify whether the program is legitimate by seeing whether it’s listed on a .gov website or calling the state office to learn more, she said.
A Facebook video claimed the government "launched a program called the 2023 Solar Incentive Program" which means American homeowners "can now qualify to get a full, state-of-the-art solar system at absolutely no cost from the government."
The U.S. government does not provide free solar panels. The Energy Department and the Solar Energy Technologies Office have warned consumers about this type of online scam involving solar panels.
We rate this claim False.
Facebook post, July 11, 2023
www.solarenergyinitiative.net, Smart Home Savings, accessed July 18, 2023
Emailed statement from a spokesperson for the Department of Energy, July 18, 2023
Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, Energy-Related Federal Financial Assistance Programs, accessed July 18, 2023
Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, Homeowner’s Guide to the Federal Tax Credit for Solar Photovoltaics, accessed July 18, 2023
Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, Smart Shopping Tips for Solar, March 10, 2023
Energy.gov, Free Solar Panels? Don’t Get Burned, April 26, 2023
Verify No, the federal government is not giving away free solar panels, July 11, 2022
MarketWatch, ‘Free’ Solar Panels Are Not Free: What You Need to Know, June 15, 2023
USA Today, Fact check: Government offers tax credits, not free solar panels, April 4, 2023
PolitiFact, Sorry, Six Flags isn’t offering five free passes and unlimited rides to everyone, July 1, 2019
PolitiFact, No, Walmart is not selling off Dyson Supersonic hair dryers for $1, Jan. 24, 2022
PolitiFact, Don’t fall for this Facebook post promising cheap Walmart bikes, July 19, 2023
Google search for "2023 Solar Incentive Program" on .gov websites, July 21, 2023
Federal Trade Commission, ReportFraud.FTC, accessed July 21, 2023
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