CfA Again Calls on Attorneys General in California and Texas to Investigate Rooftop Solar Industry After New Mexico Attorney General Files Lawsuit Against Vivint
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 22, 2018
Contact: Daniel Stevens, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202.780.5750
WASHINGTON – Today, Campaign for Accountability (CfA), a nonpartisan, nonprofit watchdog group focused on public accountability, renewed its calls to investigate solar companies in California and Texas, with an emphasis on Vivint Solar. On March 8, New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas initiated legal action against Vivint – alleging systematic fraud, deceptive business practices and racketeering –suggesting solar companies are continuing to violate state consumer protection laws more than a year after CfA first called for investigations.
CfA Executive Director Daniel E. Stevens stated, “CfA previously called on state attorneys general in California and Texas to investigate the rooftop solar industry without success. While the New Mexico Attorney General is serious about holding the industry’s bad actors accountable, residents in Texas and California are still vulnerable to the industry’s many bad actors. Attorneys General Becerra and Paxton should follow New Mexico’s lead and investigate whether Vivint and other solar companies are defrauding customers in their states.”
In the fall of 2016, CfA asked the attorneys general of Texas and California to open investigations into companies that sell or lease residential rooftop solar panels. CfA’s requests were based on reviews of consumer complaints, obtained through open records requests, which revealed a widespread pattern of false and misleading acts in the marketing and sale or lease of solar panels, in apparent violation of state consumer protection laws.
One Texas consumer noted that Vivint promised him free solar panels after a year and a half if he signed up for the company’s home security service, but Vivint never followed through with its offer. When the disgruntled customer attempted to cancel service, he was told to either transfer service to someone else or pay the full amount due on the contract. The customer, understandably, called Vivint’s sales practices “misleading.”
In California, where approximately 39 percent of Vivint’s solar energy systems are installed, customers repeatedly complained that the company lied about the amount of money they would save by switching to Vivint.
Absent any state enforcement action, California residents have sued Vivint directly. At least four separate lawsuits are pending in the state alleging deceptive and fraudulent business practices.
In a December 2017 report, CfA noted that consumers had filed more complaints against Vivint and SolarCity with the Federal Trade Commission than any other rooftop solar company. Other non-profits, including Public Citizen and the National Consumer Law Center, have also voiced concerns about rooftop solar companies.
The New Mexico Attorney General’s lawsuit alleges that Vivint engaged in “unfair and unconscionable business” practices including clouding titles to consumers’ homes, fraud and racketeering. The lawsuit also names the top corporate officers of the company and alleges that “the Vivint officers direct, control, approve, ratify, and actively participate in Vivint’s fraud.”
Stevens continued, “Renewable energy won’t be appealing if American consumers have to worry about whether they are being induced to make the switch by bad actors who just want to rip them off. Law enforcement officials in California and Texas must take action to hold Vivint, or any rooftop solar company that has violated state law, accountable.”
Campaign for Accountability is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, nonpartisan watchdog organization that uses research, litigation and aggressive communications to expose misconduct and malfeasance in public life and hold those who act at the expense of the public good accountable for their actions.