INDIO, Calif. - Dozens who use solar energy to power their homes are losing money rather than saving at the end of their yearly agreement.
One homeowner finally got his money back after News Channel 3 and CBS Local 2 called the Imperial Irrigation District.
"When I got my year-end bill, that's when I noticed that I've been accumulating a credit for the entire 12-month period and I noticed that a credit wasn't applied but a balance was due for $447 and change," Indio homeowner Mario Martinez said.
More and more people are going solar for the savings but a glitch in the system by the billing agency IID is costing consumers more than they are saving.
"What's happening at IID is at the end of 12 months is I'm generating a kilowatt of power and you are charging me the retail rate but you are only crediting me for half of it at the wholesale rate so that means I have to produce twice as much to get credited the same amount," Lea Goodsell of Renova Solar said.
Consumers and Renova Solar employees said they have repeatedly reached out to the district with no response or results. We looked into Mario Martinez's bill, which should have shown the company owing him about $3 in credit at the end of his 12-month agreement. Instead he got a $477 bill which he said he had no choice but to pay.
"I had to pay the bill. If you don't pay the bill they will shut you off so they are strong arming us," Martinez said.
On Tuesday IID called Martinez and said he is getting his money back. IID officials would not say what the cause of the charge was but said they need to do more research to find out the cause of this problem.
"Something is messed up in their programming when they are evening up those bills. They've got it programmed in with this new wholesale generated rate and it's mistakenly throwing everybody into that and it should just be the people who are signing up for solar now, not the people who IID gave 20-year agreements to," Goodsell said.
IID released the following statement to KESQ and CBS Local 2 Wednesday morning:
"We are working to identify and correct the billing issue that caused the error on Mr. Marinez's bill and will be issuing him a refund this week. All of our Net Metering customers will continue to receive the benefits afforded to them under our Net Metering program. It's unfortunate that this issue was not resolved sooner and we apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused."