3OYS: Homeowner invests in solar panels that don't operate

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

PHOENIX -- Walter Cwiek has a habit of keeping his thermostat as warm as possible. He uses ceiling fans and tries not to use many lights inside his home. In other words, Cwiek does what he can to keep electricity costs to a minimum.

Still, he says sometimes it's just not enough. "Last month's bill for a 1,400 square foot house was $277," Cwiek tells 3 On Your Side.

So, he took the plunge and invested in solar energy. He hired a company and had solar panels installed on his roof to generate power.  But all of those new, shiny solar panels on his roof aren't doing a thing to lower his electric bill.  "That's correct. They're just sitting up there getting sunburned," he jokingly says.

Cwiek says the panels were completely installed on June 20, and two weeks later they were inspected and approved by the city. But for nearly two and a half months, the solar panels haven't generated any power.

Why? Well, Cwiek says because APS hasn't installed the meters necessary to read the solar usage.  "We've been waiting for them to come out and hook up the meters and get us on the grid so we can start enjoying solar power," he says.

So, 3 On Your Side got a hold of APS. They investigated and discovered the delay wasn't on their end at all. APS discovered the solar company took an exceptionally long time to inform them Mr. Cwiek's installation job was ready for meters,

APS says in an email to 3 On Your Side that it was informed on "....August 19, and the meter set is scheduled for today, so APS is well within the 6 week timeframe" of installing meters for a homeowner.

APS is right about that. The utility company clearly states that it takes up to six weeks and as soon as they were given the go ahead by the solar company, they went out and installed those meters for Cwiek.

Mr. Cwiek says he's not quite sure why his solar company dragged their feet, but he's glad it's done.  "My wife and I are very pleased that we finally got the meters hooked up."