Solar installer’s failure is a red flag for buyers; how to avoid scams | WFAE 90.7

Solar power on rooftops has become something of a frontier rush as we move to renewable energy to combat climate change. Hundreds of entrepreneurs, some with little or no experience, have flocked to the business. Advertisement promises free solar panels and zero dollar energy bills. Many lies are told to take advantage of our good intentions.

You may have recently read the news of the collapse of Mooresville-based solar company Pink Energy, formerly known as Power Home. WBTV’s David Hodges reports that the company is closing.

The failure of the deal has left thousands of customers across the country stranded.

Pink says in a lawsuit that its problems stem from bad equipment from a battery supplier. But other reports suggest there’s more to the story. A WBTV investigation two weeks ago revealed complaints from before the company worked with this supplier.

WBTV’s Hodges says customers are complaining that Pink’s solar systems aren’t working as promised or at all. And the supposed savings did not materialize. Many are still looking for monthly loan payments — even when their systems aren’t working.

The NC Sustainable Energy Association reports that other solar installers are stepping in to help. “I have had the opportunity to speak with a few equipment vendors and they are in the early stages of coordinating with other installers to proactively reach out to customers to try to address some concerns and help with warranty repairs,” NCSEA spokesman Matt said Abele.

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Jay Radcliffe, President of Renu Energy Solutions in Charlotte.

Renu Energy Solutions in Charlotte has formed a sister company called Sun Service to specifically address problems with systems installed by companies like Pink, company president Jay Radcliffe said.

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“It’s not just them. It’s all the orphan systems that people bought. It’s come back, maybe it’s disappointing. And that’s why our service team will go out and service each system,” Radcliffe said.

There are far too many stories about people trying to go solar only to get bad service, he said.

So how do you avoid being scammed?

The NCSEA’s Abele urges people to only work with companies that meet certain standards. The association has a code of conduct for the solar business and lists all of its member installers who have signed an agreement “where they undertake to uphold the highest professional standards in the industry”.

“We often refer customers to these installers to help with repairs or replacements of systems installed by bad industry players,” Abele said.

Radcliffe said many companies that sell solar roofs don’t qualify. Some don’t even have licensed electricians. Some are just marketing firms selling their contracts to installers who may not be up to speed themselves, he said.

“They are not general contractors. You don’t have all the required licenses. They are not NABCEP certified,” he said. NABCEP is the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners.

“If you don’t have all of those things, they shouldn’t even be able to come to your house or sell to you,” Radcliffe said.

Learn more in the NCSEA Consumer Guide to Solar Power and the Solar Company Code of Conduct.

This report originally appeared in WFAE’s weekly climate email newsletter, published on Thursdays.

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