FOCUS investigates complaints in opposition to Solar Titan USA | whas11.com – WHAS11.com

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It’s not all sunshine relating to solar energy.  

WHAS11’s FOCUS investigative group began trying into one solar power firm after becoming a member of a non-public group on social media the place prospects had been throwing shade. There had been posts from individuals throughout Kentucky and several other different states.

“We do have a perfect location,” Tim Morrow defined to FOCUS. His home sits atop a hill in Taylorsville. “As far as getting sun from sunup to sundown and no shade.”

Morrow and his spouse are public college academics with retirement in sight. This solar panel system was speculated to offset their electrical invoice — at the least that is what Morrow mentioned Solar Titan USA offered him on.

In December 2021, Morrow financed $57,000 for a 12-kilowatt solar panel system, and a couple of month later set up was underway. 

“It’s on the roof,” he told FOCUS investigators. “They had been very fast about getting them on the roof.”

Fast ahead to April 1, 2022 and Morrow mentioned his system nonetheless wasn’t producing power. The Morrows had been caught with an almost $300 mortgage fee on prime of an electrical invoice that was nearly $300.

“They’ve basically done everything illegally here,” Morrow defined. “They by no means bought the allow earlier than they began it, they assured me, ‘Yes, we had the permits, it is advisable let the individuals in your property to work as a result of we had the permits.'”

A Spencer County inspector confirmed to FOCUS that the required permits weren’t pulled previous to the set up is began.

In an electronic mail assertion, Solar Titan USA defined, partially, “Our policy is to pull ALL required permits PRIOR to installation. We have had some personnel challenges in some of our Kentucky areas that we have now addressed…”

More funds:
“A lot of unhappy customers.”

Another Solar Titan USA buyer in Frankfort, informed FOCUS investigators that his household bought a $44,450 6-kilowatt solar panel system and battery.

Kenneth Bryant signed the contract in October final 12 months and in November the solar panels went up. But just like Morrow, as of April 1, Bryant mentioned his system nonetheless wasn’t producing power.

Similarly, the Franklin County Planning, Zoning, and Code Enforcement Department confirmed permits weren’t filed till March 7, once more after the set up.

“I’ve been paying on a system that I have not seen an ounce of electric from,” Bryant mentioned, including that he is had 5 funds of about $250 mechanically withdrawn from his checking account.

“[The] system’s not operational, so there’s nothing really nullified, I’m just stuck with an extra payment,” Bryant mentioned.

According to the contract with Solar Titan USA, the primary fee is due roughly 60 days after set up. 

“To me put in means the job is finished,” he said. “And it’s operational and able to go.”

The contract additionally states that the solar firm can use pictures of their work at buyer properties for social media and promotions, it prohibits prospects from posting something unfavourable in regards to the firm on social media.

That didn’t cease prospects from creating the Facebook group “Solar Titan Screwed us.”

“There are a lot of unhappy customers,” Bryant mentioned.

Attorney General’s examine:
“No way I was going to sign that.”

FOCUS found the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office is investigating at the least 10 complaints in opposition to Solar Titan. But Kentucky is not alone, our FOCUS group discovered that the Attorney General’s Offices in each Tennessee and Georgia are additionally trying into a number of complaints in opposition to the corporate as properly.

The Kentucky Attorney General’s Office, declined to talk particularly about Solar Titan as a result of the case is beneath investigation. 

However, Chris Lewis, govt director of the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office of Consumer Protection, did share some perception on a number of the contractual language.

FOCUS Investigator John Charlton: “As you see it, installation then is actually putting the solar panels on the roof, running all the circuits, and having everything inspected, and then finally turned on with the right meter and everything running?”

Lewis: “It ought to be and if shoppers are buying one thing lower than that, then they want to concentrate on these phrases.”

After a Better Business Bureau grievance, Solar Titan supplied to reimburse Bryant two funds, totaling $504.56, so long as he agreed to signal on as a optimistic referral and provides optimistic evaluations and scores.

“I’m not going to take a payment to give a positive review,” Bryant mentioned.

He introduced his objection to Solar Titan and mentioned that time period was eliminated, saying he was reimbursed for 3 funds totaling $756.84.

The accuracy of these scores and evaluations, which embody funds for optimistic evaluations and scores, may that put the following potential buyer at a drawback?

“Technically you can make an argument that that’s going to be a deceptive business practice under our consumer protection laws,” Lewis mentioned.

Kentucky’s Consumer Protection Act protects shoppers and KRS 367.170 defines ‘unlawful acts’ as “Unfair, false, misleading, or deceptive acts or practices in the conduct of any trade or commerce…” 

Morrow additionally bought a conditional supply for reimbursement of 1 month’s fee, $323.49.

“One month’s payment was one-fourth of the interest that I owe,” he said. “So I told them no way I was going to sign that.”

By May 6, the inspection was accomplished on Morrow’s solar panel system, however he mentioned he was nonetheless ready for it to supply power for his household.

Solar Titan USA’s response:
“Solar is a new emerging industry”

The FOCUS group spent weeks attempting to achieve out to Solar Titan USA to offer them a chance to elucidate the sample of points prospects informed us they skilled.

On May 12, Dale Roden a Technical Operations Manager from Solar Titan USA despatched this assertion:

“Thank you for reaching out. Solar is a brand new rising trade. Many giant firms are embracing a Solar answer together with utilities including huge solar fields to their sourced energy choices, it’s clear Solar Energy goes to play giant half within the answer for future energy wants. Electric automobiles together with many different new applied sciences are and will likely be putting an growing demand on the present electrical grid. The previous few years of know-how modifications and enhancements have introduced solar power from only a industrial answer to being an incredible possibility for a lot of residential owners as properly. 

Like with any new and quick rising trade solar energy, as a mix answer with {the electrical} grid for residential properties, has had a variety of rising pains. This is because of many elements. It requires many separate teams to have the ability to work collectively for a standard purpose. With the novelty of the trade a variety of these processes haven’t been perfected, and even created at occasions, which may trigger delays and frustration. Also, there’s at occasions intentional highway blocks put up, most of those are as a consequence of sure entities combating or fearing the ‘new’ Solar Energy possibility. Fearing prospects will likely be taken away and never understanding that with the rising demand for electrical energy these new choices will likely be vital! Also, there’s good and dangerous in each trade. A number of dangerous apples have made it onerous for those attempting to pave the best way for the way forward for inexperienced energy. We don’t declare perfection by any means and are working onerous to make sure our prospects are taken care of in an expert and well timed method. We have had delays on a few of our tasks, which we’re compensating our prospects for. These may be as a consequence of processes which can be quickly altering with the events we work with, new necessities that change throughout the course of, and our personal inner challenges to create finest processes, procedures and communication. Again, Solar Titan is dedicated to caring for our prospects and getting all tasks full. We would encourage any of our prospects who’ve considerations to achieve out to us immediately so we will tackle their points or considerations.

Later, Solar Titan USA agreed to reply particular questions from WHAS11’s FOCUS group in an electronic mail. 

Read the total electronic mail interview:

FOCUS: In the contract, what’s your definition of “installation?” Why are some prospects being required to pay month-to-month mortgage funds if the system shouldn’t be totally up and working? 

Solar Titan: Equipment put in on the home, is set up. This is adopted with inspection and commissioning. The finance corporations have differing mortgage choices and phrases and relying on which one is chosen that determines the funds begin date. (We reimburse prospects if they begin making funds earlier than they’re up and working.) 

FOCUS: How many shoppers at the moment are there who’ve been ready for greater than a month for his or her system to be activated? 

Solar Titan: Most of our prospects are up and working inside 4-8 week of set up. Many issues issue into this timing. Delays with inspectors, utility necessities which change throughout the course of or personnel challenges with us or the opposite events concerned. Also, there have been a big variety of warrantied components ready replacements. We are working via these points with the manufactures, who’re taking full accountability, however sadly, we because the installer are bearing the blame. 

FOCUS: In which states does Solar Titan promote and function? 

Solar Titan: KY, TN, GA, AL 

FOCUS: Why is figure being performed with out the right permits being pulled first? 

Solar Titan: Our coverage is to drag ALL required permits PRIOR to set up. We have had some personnel challenges in a few of our Kentucky areas that we’ve now addressed. Along with this, many utility districts have modified the required allowing this 12 months. For instance: solely about 5% of our installs required constructing permits final 12 months. This has elevated to greater than 50% in 2022. We weren’t informed of the change till after we began the tasks, once more this has been remedied, however we weren’t alerted to the modifications. Some of those modifications got here after we already began the tasks and sadly these tasks weren’t grandfather in. We have had to return and add them after the very fact.

FOCUS: What is an inexpensive time of us can anticipate for the complete system to be put in after which turned on, from level of sale to full activation? 

Solar Titan: For most of our prospects this course of will likely be 2-4 months. For a few of our prospects this may be as brief as 4 weeks, for some this may be longer (the nationwide common for solar sale to commissioning is 6-9 months). 

FOCUS: Why is Solar Titan providing credit/reimbursements to prospects so long as these prospects signal a type stating that they are going to give optimistic evaluations and referrals? 

Solar Titan: We do supply reimbursements to our prospects if they’ve made funds earlier than their system is up and working. This course of and wording has not too long ago been revised to create a greater method to talk with our prospects. We do ask that prospects carry frustrations on to us so we will handle any questions or considerations immediately. We wish to guarantee you and all our prospects that we take customer support very severely! We have not too long ago added a number of new positions to deal with calls and proactive communication with our prospects. We encourage any prospects to achieve out to us with any questions or considerations. 

—————————————–

Solar Titan didn’t reply the FOCUS group’s direct query about these reimbursements being contingent on optimistic evaluations and scores, saying as a substitute that “the process and wording has recently been revised” to enhance communication with prospects.  

In each circumstances FOCUS confirmed with Spencer and Franklin Counties that the permits weren’t pulled earlier than work was performed contradicting Solar Titan’s coverage, which is to drag all required permits previous to set up.

Morrow says, after ready almost 5 months, his panels are lastly operational. Going on seven months since signing up for solar, Bryant continues to be ready.

Interested in solar energy?:
Finding respected distributors

Here are some suggestions for these fascinated with buying solar panel techniques:

  • Make positive to vet the potential solar firm earlier than committing and signing a contract. Search evaluations and social media to see what present prospects’ expertise has been. Check to verify they’ve filed the right paperwork and are in good standing with the Kentucky Secretary of State’s Office. Click right here to go looking.
  • Get a number of quotes to match all of your choices
  • Check together with your utility firm to learn the way a lot energy you might be utilizing so that you’re not paying for a system that is kind of than what you want.
  • Ask for all of the phrases of the contract to evaluation previous to signing any contract. Make positive to rigorously learn each line and ask questions if you don’t perceive.
  • If you might be financing the acquisition, ensure to discover a number of financing choices. Consider taking out a home fairness mortgage.
  • Make positive you realize what permits are wanted by calling the Planning and Zoning and/or Code and Regulation Enforcement workplaces in your space. There could also be further necessities should you stay inside the limits of a metropolis.
  • Consider further prices which may be required to optimize the potential energy output. For instance, you might have to trim some timber. If the panels are being positioned on the roof, there could also be further structural work required to carry the load of the panels.
  • Prior to any work being performed or set up, test with native officers to make sure the right permits have been pulled even when the vender mentioned they take of all of the permits for you.
  • Request the title and make contact with information of any sub-contractors and test with the town, county, and/or state to verify they’ve the right licensing.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) additionally presents client recommendation and extra belongings you would possibly think about when seeking to purchase into solar power.

Louisville Metro Government and the Louisville Sustainability Council have launched a program referred to as Solar Over Louisville that’s providing solar energy merchandise at a reduction for the next counties:

Kentucky: Louisville/Jefferson County, Oldham County, Shelby County, Spencer County, Bullitt County, Trimble County, Henry County, Hardin County, Meade County, Nelson County

Indiana: Floyd County, Clark County, Harrison County, Washington County, Scott County

The deadline to enroll is June thirtieth. Sign up right here.

How to decide on a solar power installer:

How to report considerations:

If you’ve gotten considerations a couple of services or products, it is best to file a grievance or report points to a number of businesses.

  • Submit a grievance to the Attorney General’s Office in your state. In Kentucky, you possibly can file a grievance on-line or name the Consumer Protection Division at (502) 696-5389.
  • Contact the Kentucky Public Protection at 502-782-2736.
  • Contact your county and/or metropolis officers to report the problems and search further steering and assets. 
  • If you reside in Louisville Kentucky and you are feeling the work was not performed as much as code or with out correct permits, contact Metro 311.

Have a narrative tip? Contact the FOCUS Investigative group at FOCUS@whas11.com. 

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Have a information tip? Email assign@whas11.com, go to our Facebook web page or Twitter feed.

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