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Can you imagine drinking this well water? Homeowner lives in the Woodland's community north of Pittsburgh. Claims fracking ruined water. DEP claims fracking did not. Photo credit: John Stolz / Public Herald

Guess what was found in Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection's (DEP) filing cabinets after gas operators drilled 10,027 fracking wells over the last 12 years? Only 9,442 citizen-reported fracking complaints. And 44 percent of those are drinking water-related. Pennsylvania's DEP finally released the complaints to Public Herald, an investigative journalism nonprofit. There's much to learn from Pennsylvania's now-public 9,442 fracking complaints as legislators decide to frack or not to frack in Western Maryland.

As fracking took off in 2008, so did the number of citizens lodging water, air and land fracking complaints with the DEP.

A year ago, we reported that Pennsylvania's drinking water contamination due to fracking appeared to be much higher than previously reported. To date, Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) reports only 284 positive water contaminations for the 10,027 fracking wells drilled. That three percent figure seems pretty low.

What hasn't set right with many is that Pennsylvania's official water contamination rate is starkly different than what citizens report on-the-ground. Thousands of news stories, YouTube videos and social media posts report an entirely different story of serious fracking water issues, rampant air pollution, land destruction and negative health issues.

In rural communities, many homes rely on private water wells, not municipally-supplied water. The new natural gas drilling process called fracking drills through surface water aquifers to access natural gas found miles underground in shale rock basins.

The Now-Public 9,442 Pennsylvania Fracking Complaints Reveal:

1. The volume of citizen complaints is alarming, shocking even. For every fracking well drilled, one homeowner, business or gas operator called in an issue.

2. Water well complaints make up 44 percent of DEP complaints. The DEP is the"911 dispatch" center for citizen oil and gas issues. Ninety-six percent of these water complaints were dismissed. The current number of water complaints is higher as the DEP put methane migration and other water issues under different complaint categories; those cases are additional to the 4,108 reported so far.

3. Water contamination is indeed widespread and systemic: Total complaints and water complaints are scattered throughout Pennsylvania's fracking fields and aren't concentrated in one area.

A tally of the fracking wells drilled, total and water-related fracking complaints by EPA region in Pennsylvania. Public Herald and DEP

4. Complaint ratios worsen over time: As fracking grew in Pennsylvania, gas operators should have reduced the negative impacts to land, air and water over time. This data suggests that as fracking continues, complaint ratios increase.

Because this citizen-complaint data was never studied year-over-year, the opportunities to develop best practices, share learning, conduct scientific studies and possibly reduce future harm were eliminated. Sadly, Pennsylvania DEP and Gov. Wolf were touting that fracking is safer by reporting lower violations. DEP failed to ever report the real volume of citizen complaints.

As older conventional drilling was replaced by fracking in 2010, complaints-to-wells drilled grew at an increasing rate. Fracking is different and worse than conventional drilling. Source: Public Herald / Pennsylvania DEP

Why Was This Complaint Data Never Made Public?

Public Herald is reporting a series of articles analyzing the DEP's 12-year suppression of citizen fracking complaint data.

This newly-discovered complaint data calls into question the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) fracking water study. After the EPA's original "fracking is safe" preliminary conclusion, the final report said there could be water issues in certain situations.

Did the EPA ever see these 9,442 citizen complaints? Adding to this mess, several thousand complaint records are missing. Over three years, Public Herald scanned 6,981 paper complaints before the DEP emailed the nonprofit 9,442 complaints. What happened to the almost 3,000 complaint records?

This data would have been invaluable to scientist, health professionals, citizens and communities to know, study, plan and adapt. How many people got sick even though authorities knew water wells were getting contaminated? Dr. Stolz explains, "Suppressed information from Pennsylvania regulators makes it very difficult to know the truth about these incidents," he said.

What Happened to the 3,824 Citizens Who Called In and Their Water Complaint Was Dismissed?

The DEP determined that 96 percent of the fracking water complaints were not caused by nearby gas operations. Were they bogus calls?

"You're telling me that there are thousands of people in Pennsylvania that want to fool the DEP? I can't accept that," said Dr. John F. Stolz to Public Herald. Dr. Stolz is a Professor of Biology at Duquesne University and through his Center for Environmental Research and Education has been providing free water tests for citizens who claim water damage.

Friends of the Harmed's Dana Dolney delivers weekly water to a Pennsylvania homeowner whose well was claimed to be ruined by fracking. There's no financial restitution or government support available for fracking damage. Homeowners either work with the offending gas company, sue or rely on charity.

What Will the Future Look Like?

If there is a minimum level of inherent damage involved with fracking, as the data suggests, what will fracking look like with 20,000 fracking wells in a region? What will happen to Western Maryland's tourism and rural landscape?

My answer. Actual West Virginia commode after nearby fracking trashed private well water. Plaintiff lost their lawsuit even though plaintiff had a taped phone call confession that frackers had ruined water.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Baltimore Fishbowl.

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Freedom Forever Solar: Reviews, Services & More (2022)

Looking to learn more about Freedom Forever Solar? We offer our 2022 review of the growing company.

Reviews
wundervisuals / Getty Images

One of the fastest-growing solar installation companies in the nation, Freedom Forever Solar (not to be confused with Freedom Solar) has expanded to over 24 states in less than five years. In our Freedom Forever Solar review, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of this up-and-coming installer and see if it deserves a spot among the nation’s best solar companies.

Freedom Forever Solar likes to keep things simple and outlines its services in just three steps: solar panel installation, backup battery installation and solar financing. Similar to a number of its counterparts offering national coverage, Freedom Forever offers solar panels for purchase as well as solar leases and power purchase agreements (PPAs).


Freedom Forever Solar Fast Facts

Year Started

2016

Service Areas

25 states, including AZ, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, ID, IL, MD, MA, NV, NH, NJ, NM, NC, OR, PA, RI, SC, TX, UT, VT, VA and WI

Service Types

Solar panel and battery installations

Types of Panels Sold

Varies depending on location

Backup Battery Options

Yes, including LG Chem and Tesla Powerwall

Certifications

North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) technicians

Better Business Bureau (BBB) Rating

A+ with accreditation

Read on to learn more about Freedom Forever Solar, or to see how much a solar system from Freedom Forever Solar or a similar certified installer would cost, you can use this tool or fill out the form below.

Freedom Forever Overview

Founded just six years ago, Freedom Forever Solar is still in its infancy compared to other solar companies of its size. Though a new kid on the block, this Temecula, California-based provider offers a unique approach focused on educating its clientele. With a learning center, a “solar academy,” videos, podcasts and more, Freedom Forever aims to set realistic expectations for its customers when it comes to the big picture of renewable energy and the nitty-gritty of solar financing.

By understanding that an informed customer is the best type of customer, Freedom Forever empowers its clients to increase their independence while reducing their costs via solar.

So, how has this approach paid off? Let’s explore.

Freedom Forever Services and Installation

Freedom Forever Solar strives to make going solar as easy as possible for homeowners. Offering only solar panel and backup battery installations, Freedom Forever Solar focuses on simplicity in its clean energy services. This model allows Freedom Forever to concentrate its efforts on solar and backup power but may disappoint customers interested in add-ons like electric vehicle charging stations or energy efficiency upgrades. The installations themselves are carried out by authorized partner companies that will vary regionally.

The type of solar panels available for your home will vary depending on your region as well, but backup batteries installed by Freedom Forever include the Tesla Powerwall and LG Chem.

Here’s what the average customer can expect Freedom Forever Solar’s installation process to look like:

  • Receive a free quote by providing preliminary information such as your address, monthly energy costs and credit score.
  • If interested after receiving the quote, Freedom Forever will draw up a full proposal including your custom system design, a rendering of the system’s appearance and estimated energy savings over the course of the system's lifetime. The proposal should factor in local and state solar incentives, so be sure to make note that they are included.
  • Freedom Forever Solar pledges to handle all permits, interconnection agreements and other consents associated with a solar installation in your region.
  • During the permitting process, Freedom Forever will enroll you in your utility company’s net metering program, if applicable.
  • The installation itself only happens after permits and net metering agreements are finalized. Installations with Freedom Forever are typically finished within one day and are carried out by authorized partner companies.
  • Finally, you'll need to pass inspection and turn on your system. Once the system is installed, both the city and your electric company will most likely require inspections. Freedom Forever will schedule and oversee both. Once you pass both inspections, you’ll be ready to turn your system on.

Solar Panel Warranty

Rather than offering workmanship or product warranties, Freedom Forever Solar promises that your system will perform as advertised through its 25-year production guarantee. Should your system underperform or encounter any problems, Freedom Forever will fix it and reimburse you for any lost savings.

Though this sounds like an all-encompassing warranty, it’s not quite that simple. It should be noted that Freedom Forever outsources its labor to local installation crews, and workmanship is not covered by the 25-year production guarantee. This means that any damages to your roof, home or electrical equipment from low-quality workmanship will have to be negotiated with a third party rather than the sales rep you signed a Freedom Forever contract with. Though these situations are rare, they can complicate what should be a simple warranty.

Freedom Forever Costs and Financing

The average cost of a solar system from a certain provider is difficult to assess, as pricing can vary widely depending on your state, your roof and your electric bills. Freedom Forever is a young company up against some industry leaders, so we expect its solar project pricing to be competitive. However, we always encourage readers to get quotes from competing solar companies to make sure you’re getting the best value from your investment.

Much of Freedom Forever’s expansion can be credited to its utilization of solar leases, which allow homeowners to rent solar power systems at a monthly cost. Though leasing panels provides a switch to clean energy with a low upfront cost, purchasing panels provides the greatest value in the long run. Keep in mind that leases will not be eligible for the solar tax credit.

Financing Options

Freedom Forever Solar offers four solar financing plans for customers:

  1. Cash Purchase: Purchasing your solar system outright provides you with maximum long-term value. Making one upfront payment reduces loan fees and interest, allowing you a quicker payback period. Also, solar panels add property value and make you eligible for the solar tax credit. Over time, homeowners will see the largest return on investment when paying in cash.
  2. Home Solar Loan: Freedom Forever Solar partners with third-party loan companies to provide financial assistance with solar power purchases. With a solar loan, you can still enjoy the benefits of system ownership, maintaining eligibility for tax credits, rebates and additional property value. Solar loans will vary in their interest rates depending on credit score, down-payment amount and length of the loan.
  3. Solar Lease: With a solar lease, you make fixed monthly payments to Freedom Forever, essentially renting your solar panels. The costs of leases are typically about 20% less than you pay for grid-supplied electricity. You can still take advantage of energy savings, but you miss out on a number of valuable benefits associated with system ownership, like the tax credit, rebates and an increase to your property value.
  4. Purchase Power Agreement (PPA): PPAs are similar to solar leases in that you make monthly payments, but instead of renting the solar panels, you agree to pay a fixed monthly rate for the electricity they produce. From our perspective, PPAs are the least advisable option.

Freedom Forever Solar Reviews

Given Freedom Forever’s strategy of making solar easy, most positive reviews reflect a quick, seamless and effective installation process, as advertised. The company runs into trouble with its customer support and complications involving third-party installers and loan providers. Let’s take a look at what customers are saying.

Positive Freedom Forever Reviews

Not surprisingly, positive reviews reflect Freedom Forever’s simple process. Satisfied customers report a system performing as advertised, saving them money on their utility bills with no maintenance or support needed post-install.

“I was referred to this company by my neighbor that had their system installed by Freedom, and I’m glad they did so. My experience with Robert (my rep) was amazing and honestly effortless from our consultation to install. Very clear and thorough, and what was said was delivered.” — Tai via Google Reviews

“Great company to work with. Efficient and professional. Our sales rep stayed in contact with us the whole way, making for a smooth installation and transition from the grid. He also gave us a great deal; locked in for 25 years with no money down. Goodbye SDGE.” — Kim via Google Reviews

Negative Freedom Forever Reviews

Generally, we prefer to recommend solar companies that handle their installations and financing in-house, and the negative reviews surrounding Freedom Forever Solar are the perfect examples why. Customers too often experience difficulties with warranties when multiple companies are involved and can receive poor treatment from customer service teams looking to offload their issues on another company.

“Be aware that this company is ONLY a solar panel sales company and only installs material, which is NOT made by them, so warranty can be iffy. They hire private party makeshift companies, which are not affiliated with Freedom Forever or solar panel equipment. Be careful with these multiple companies. They are not reliable.” — Robert via Better Business Bureau

“One star for quick installation of solar panels. Everything else is a mess. Customer service is very slow, sometimes hard to get a hold of, probably because of all of the disappointed customers calling in and waiting for their service to turn on. As we speak, I am already being billed by their finance company and also paying the power company because my system is not operating.” — NA via Better Business Bureau

Our Take On Freedom Forever Solar

Freedom Forever Solar’s modern approach to solar education, wide service area and high volume of installations make it an intriguing new company, but a few too many complications with customer service and unreliable partnerships bog down its overall reputation.

By involving third-party contractors and loan providers, there are too many moving pieces in an average solar installation to be carried out as smoothly and consistently as we’d like to see. Overall experiences depend far too heavily on the team that carries out the installation itself, which is arguably the most important part of a solar investment. As a result, we have a hard time recommending Freedom Forever Solar relative to most other top solar companies that likely offer services in the same area.

Freedom Forever Pros

Freedom Forever Cons

Strong production guarantee

Limited services

Large service area

Outsourced labor

Quick installations

Customer service issues

Flexible financing options

No workmanship warranty

Freedom Forever Solar can be a good and practical choice for customers looking to quickly and simply save money on their energy bills through a solar purchase or solar lease. However, for homeowners looking for attentive customer service and quality workmanship both before and after installation, we advise you to shop around.

You can start getting free quotes from a number of solar installers near you by filling out the form below or using this tool.

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Solar Energy Provider Comparison

To put this all into context, let’s take a look at what industry leaders SunPower and Sunrun offer in comparison to Freedom Forever. What we see as the key factor differentiating SunPower and Sunrun is industry experience. Freedom Forever only has six years of experience as of 2022, which is not a lot of time to establish a reliable process over a range like 25 states. If slow growth is good growth, Freedom Forever Solar doesn’t appear to have as sustainable a business model as we’d like to see.


Freedom Forever

SunPower

Sunrun

Year Started

2016

1985

2007

Services Offered

Solar panel installation, battery installation, monitoring

Solar panel installation, battery installation, monitoring

Solar panel installation, battery installation, monitoring, maintenance

Service Areas

AZ, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, ID, IL, MD, MA, NV, NH, NJ, NM, NC, OR, PA, RI, SC, TX, UT, VA, VT, WI

All 50 States

AZ, CA, CO, CT, FL, HI, IL, MD, MA, NV, NH, NJ, NM, NY, PA, RI, SC, TX, VT, WI, Puerto Rico and Washington D.C.

BBB Rating

A+

A+

B+

Payment Options

Cash, loan, lease, PPA

Cash, loan, lease

Cash, loan, lease, PPA

Learn More


SunPower Review

Sunrun Review

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Freedom Forever Solar a good company?

Freedom Forever Solar is a good company, but it lacks the experience and expertise we’d like to see before fully recommending it to our readers. If overall customer satisfaction improves over the next few years (which we certainly hope is the case), we’ll be more likely to recommend it.

How does Freedom Forever solar work?

Freedom Forever Solar makes its money by selling solar contracts, the installations and financing of which are handled by third-party partners. Though you may sign a contract through Freedom Forever’s sales staff, the crews coming out to work on your home and the company you make loan payments to will be subcontracted.

Does Sunrun own Freedom Forever?

Sunrun does not own Freedom Forever, but Sunrun is the primary solar and battery provider of Freedom Forever. This means that Freedom Forever partners with Sunrun, leveraging its brand and services to back the Freedom Forever sales team. If you sign a contract with Freedom Forever, there’s a chance your installation will consist of Sunrun’s technology and be carried out by a certified Sunrun partner.

How long has Freedom Forever solar been around?

Freedom Forever Solar has been around since 2016, expanding to 25 states in just six years. Freedom Forever was able to grow so quickly through establishing a wide network of certified independent installers that it outsources its contracts to.

Where is Freedom Forever solar available?

Freedom Forever solar is available in 25 states, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin.

Karsten Neumeister is a writer and renewable energy specialist with a background in writing and the humanities. Before joining EcoWatch, Karsten worked in the energy sector of New Orleans, focusing on renewable energy policy and technology. A lover of music and the outdoors, Karsten might be found rock climbing, canoeing or writing songs when away from the workplace.
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