SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — A blind Sacramento man says his new solar panels don’t work and the company closed, so it was time for Call Kurtis to investigate.
Jeff Thom and his wife Leslie are among the viewers who contacted Call Kurtis saying solar companies oversold them on the cost savings.
“They were totally dishonest with me. They absolutely swindled me out of my money,” Thom said.
Thom says the solar system they bought from a now out-of-business solar company did not erase their power bill as promised. In fact, he says the panels on his roof don’t work at all. He says no one wants to touch his panels due to liability.
Other viewers have contacted our team over the past few years about similar solar selling tactics, so our volunteer, Luanne, turned to Assemblyman Jim Cooper’s office, which has a team dedicated to helping constituents.
His office turned to Brad Price of Valley Solar, who fixed Thom’s solar panels for free.
“I grew up here in Sacramento. When people get stuck, we’re going to do what we can to support them,” said Price.
On Friday, Assemblyman Cooper’s office awarded Price with the Community Champion award. Price, who’s been in the solar business for 15 years, said he stepped up to help because he gets calls all the time from consumers who’ve been over-sold, or left stranded by bad-actor companies.
“It’s a black eye on the solar industry,” he said. “I can’t just stand by when this happens.”
“We were both very grateful for him stepping in,” Thom said.
Thom’s solar panels now work, lowering his power bill by about 10%. But he now knows the salesman was full of it, suggesting the system would erase his bill.
“People are being sold a bill of goods on what they’re getting and that’s just inexcusable,” said Thom.
Whenever the government frees up money through tax incentives and grants, the bad guys pounce. That’s what has happened in the solar industry. Price advises consumers to get three quotes from three different companies and reach out to previous customers to ensure they are satisfied with their system and the company.
Regulations are catching up slowly to weed out the bad seeds and the state of California offers advice on what you need to know before you go solar.
Price’s Community Champion Award came with a $5,000 grant to give to a charity of his choice. He chose to split the money between The Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind, and it’s sister charity, America’s Vet Dogs.
“Both provide training and dogs: one for the blind and the other for vets who need assistance. It seemed fitting,” Price said. “And… we like dogs.”