With Attorney Generals actively investigating solar companies nationwide, Troutman Pepper has been monitoring and cultivating key activity. To date, there has been one key settlement. In May 2021, the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office announced a settlement with Princeton-based solar company NRG Residential Solar Solutions LLC (NRG) for $69,000 to resolve the state AG’s investigation into alleged deceptive sales practices. Specifically, the New Jersey AG alleged NRG misled consumers into leasing solar energy panels by making representations regarding savings, servicing, installation, and financing, while failing to deliver on these promises. This failure, according to the AG, violated the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act and related consumer protection regulations. The settlement includes, among other things, NRG’s agreement to change its policies and practices and enter into binding arbitration to resolve pending consumer complaints.

This settlement is one of the most significant in a series of actions taken by state AGs against multiple solar companies nationwide, showing a major state AG initiative to target solar installers and their financing companies for unfair or deceptive acts and practices (UDAP):[1]

  • In April 2022, the Minnesota AG filed a lawsuit against Utah-based solar companies, lenders, and company executives, alleging they engaged in deceptive and fraudulent practices involving marketing and selling residential solar panel systems.
  • In March 2022, the Missouri AG brought an investigation against Powerhome Solar, recently rebranded as “Pink Energy,” after receiving consumer complaints regarding its practices for sales and installation of solar panels.
  • In the same month, the District of Columbia AG filed a complaint against Pepco for mishandling community solar projects, potentially overcharging more than 6,800 District households on their monthly electric bills and undermining the District’s efforts to meet its clean energy goals.
  • Also, in February 2022, the Idaho AG issued a consumer alert concerning continued consumer complaints about “solar companies’ misleading sales tactics through door-to-door sales and social media advertisements.”
  • Similarly, in March 2018, the New Mexico AG sued Vivint Solar for its claimed unfair and unconscionable business practices, including clouding titles to consumers’ homes, fraud, and racketeering in connection with its residential solar power purchase agreements and solar equipment. Additionally, in January 2020, Vivant entered into an assurance of discontinuance with the New York AG for allegations related to its marketing and sales practices concerning purported energy bill savings and financing.

Troutman Pepper continues to monitor AG concerns over consumer protection related to solar company marketing and financing.

 


 

[1] In addition to the six states listed, a spokesperson with the Massachusetts AG‘s Office indicated that the office is in the early stages of reviewing Solar Wolf Energy, Inc. for allegedly engaging in unsavory business practices.