Gilbert man disappointed with solar rebate

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

GILBERT, Ariz. -- A Gilbert man who went solar to try to be energy-conscious now says he's having a hard time getting his rebate from Southwest Gas.

Steve Rathers saves energy whenever he can. He sets his thermostat as high as possible, uses fans,  and turns off lights. He makes every effort to keep his energy bill down. "Especially in the summer,"  Rathers says. "I mean, we all know how Arizona heat can be and this is definitely a time period when your utility cost escalates."

To cut down on his bills even more, Rathers decided to go solar. The price tag was nearly $15K,  but Rathers says that cost was supposed to be offset by utility rebates, so he went for it.  "So, the rebates were definitely a major play in why we went forward with it," he says.

After everything was installed, Rathers submitted his rebate paperwork to Southwest Gas in order to recoup nearly $2,700.  After all, his gas water heater is now being heated using solar. But Southwest Gas wrote him a denial letter. The company's rebate funding is out of money and even though Rathers was put on a wait list, he may not get his money at all.

Rathers says he was disgusted and annoyed. "You can tell how I felt about it because I contacted (3 On Your Side)," he says.

Southwest Gas confirmed the lack of funding in an email to 3 On Your Side. The message stated, in part: "...rebate funds have been fully committed." Rathers says he wishes he would have known the well was dry before he spent so much of his own money and says it should be an eye-opener for others who are considering going solar.

Rathers says, "If I had to do it all over again, would I? No."

If you are considering going solar and hope to have some of the costs subsidized or reimbursed through rebates, check with your utility companies in advance.