CfA Releases Report Revealing Vivint and SolarCity are Industry’s Worst Companies

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 7, 2017

Contact: Daniel Stevens, dstevens@campaignforaccountability.org, 202.780.5750

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Campaign for Accountability (“CfA”), a government watchdog group focused on public accountability, released a report highlighting the findings of its year-long investigation into the unscrupulous sales practices of the rooftop solar industry. CfA’s investigation found consumers filed more complaints against SolarCity and Vivint Solar than any other company.

Read the report here.

CfA Executive Director Daniel Stevens said, “Installing rooftop solar panels should be an easy decision for customers looking to lower their electric bills and reduce their reliance on fossil fuels. Unfortunately, the deceptive sales tactics of solar companies, like Vivint and SolarCity, are making rooftop solar a risky bet.”

Over the past year, CfA reviewed thousands of consumer complaints filed against rooftop solar companies with state and federal agencies. These complaints detailed how solar companies exploited vulnerable populations and preyed on the elderly and those on fixed-incomes. Companies misled consumers about the true costs of installing solar panels, provided shoddy craftsmanship, and left homeowners with higher utility costs, all while inducing them to sign highly unfavorable contracts that included binding arbitration clauses.

Click here to read about CfA’s investigation into the solar industry.

Two companies in particular stand out: Vivint and SolarCity.  Complaints against these two – among the largest providers – constituted nearly 56 percent of all the complaints consumers filed with the FTC about solar companies. For example, one Vivint customer complained of signing up for solar power under false pretenses after the company misrepresented itself as affiliated with a utility company. The consumer sought unsuccessfully to have the solar panels removed, but the company stopped returning her calls.

Since 2015, the Better Business Bureau (BBB), which has not accredited Vivint, has received 522 complaints against the company and 671 against Solar City.  The FTC has received a combined 152complaints against both companies since 2012.  Overall, consumer complaints about solar companies filed with the FTC increased seven-fold between 2012 and 2016.

After reviewing these complaints, CfA asked state and federal authorities to investigate the industry’s conduct with particular attention to Vivint and SolarCity.  CfA also published editorials in state and local newspapers calling for greater accountability of the solar industry and alerting homeowners about the industry’s problems.  The Securities and Exchange Commission has opened an investigation, and state attorneys general are actively monitoring the industry.

Stevens continued, “As rooftop solar panels have become more prevalent, so have the deceptive marketing schemes. If rooftop solar companies are going to provide the power of the future, they need to clean up their act. Regulators need to protect consumers and hold the bad actors in the industry 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.