Albuquerque Solar Panel Scams Attorneys
Attorney Patrick Griebel has long roots in the New Mexico solar industry and can represent you against solar panel scams. Although a lawyer by training and experience, Patrick founded 310 Solar in 2007, which designed and installed residential solar systems for New Mexicans.
In those early days, one of the single most problematic obstacles to the adoption of residential solar was the lack of readily available financing. The high cost of solar was also a barrier. At the time, it was about $8.00 per watt, meaning the cost of an “average” residential installation (approximately 3 KW) would be roughly $24,000, sometimes more. That was often too much for all but the wealthiest homeowners for a technology that many viewed at the time as “unproven.”
Over the ensuing years, however, financing became more readily available. The cost of installed solar also dropped to as low as $3.00/watt, meaning that the homeowner could procure the same installation for under $10,000. With federal and state tax credits totaling 40%, that same system would be on the roof for as little as $6,000. With many installations, that system could be financed over a period of years. This meant the monthly finance cost of the installed system was usually far less than what that homeowner would otherwise be paying to the utility company for electricity.
Under these conditions, the market exploded in New Mexico and many other states in the 2013-2018 timeframe, and from all indications, it remains strong today.
Eventually, other types of finance crept into the New Mexico market. In 2014, Patrick worked with a company that offered a solar leasing product. For some owners, a lease made sense. For most, it did not if they were able to use available tax credits. Patrick is proud to have worked with and for local providers and even served as counsel for the New Mexico Renewable Energy Industry Association. Patrick had a seat at the counsel table for many of the industry’s early and often successful regulatory battles.
All of these advances – reduced cost, easier access to funding, more favorable regulatory environment – had the perhaps unintended but certainly unfortunate effect of making New Mexico an attractive target for out-of-state, and in some cases, unscrupulous solar companies and their solar panel scams. In many cases, these companies preyed upon New Mexicans by offering deals that were “too good to be true” or downright inappropriate for certain buyers. One such company was Vivint Solar, although recent media reports suggest that there may have been others.
In 2018, the New Mexico Attorney General successfully sued Vivint for its practices, alleging that they tricked thousands of New Mexicans into buying lengthy power purchase agreements (PPA’s). Under these agreements, the homeowner purchases the electricity from the solar system each month as metered by Vivint. Most of these contracts specified the rate for electricity to start at 10.5 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh), which in almost all cases is more than the customer would pay the utility company for at least the first 500 or more kWh’s.
Recent media coverage about Vivint’s sales practices and the AG lawsuit can be found in the Albuquerque Journal. Most were promised significant savings compared to what they were paying the utility company before going solar. In most cases, the PPA’s were never explained accurately to the homeowners. And in many cases, homeowners found that a lien had been recorded, affecting the ability to sell their home. The AG settled that matter for nearly $3 million, but unfortunately, the settlement terms did nothing to address or compensate the victims of Vivint’s practices.
We believe there may be thousands of New Mexican’s trapped in long-term, unfavorable PPA’s with Vivint and possibly other out-of-state companies. Our office may be ideally situated to assist those affected by solar panel scams, and in fact, already has helped several New Mexicans modify or even terminate their contracts.
If you believe you or someone you know was affected by the practices of a solar provider, drop us a line or give us a call. We have the experience to quickly and efficiently evaluate your situation and tell you whether or not you may be involved in a solar panel scam. We do not charge hourly fees for solar panel scam cases in most instances.