Solar company must pay $220K in fines and refunds in Kansas, DA says – KSNT News

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WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — An investigation has led to a default judgment against a solar power sales and installation company. Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett says Design 1 Group LLC engaged in “unconscionable and deceptive acts and practices.”

The company, based in Tennessee, does work in 17 states, including Kansas. Bennett says some Wichita-area customers complained, and the District Attorney’s Consumer Protection Division got involved.

According to the DA, investigators allege that Design 1 Group LLC violated the Kansas Consumer Protect Act by:

  • Contracting for services without a license,
  • Making false representations regarding the issuance of permits,
  • Making false representations regarding the coordination and scheduling of inspections,
  • Making false representations regarding rebates,
  • Improperly installing consumers’ solar systems,
  • Failing to install proper equipment required by Evergy for connection to the electrical grid,
  • Failing to disclose the impact of solar panel orientation on energy savings, and
  • Failing to provide proper three-day notices of cancellation.

Judge Faith Johnson signed a default judgment against the company. It calls for Design 1 Group LLC to pay:

  • $106,780 in restitution to customers,
  • $110,000 in civil penalties, and
  • Other court costs and investigative fees.

Bennett says the total is $220,977. He says the court also ordered Design 1 Group LLC to stop doing business in Kansas. The ban will stay until the company is licensed and obtains all necessary permits.

KSN News has reached out to the company for a response. We have not heard back yet.

Advice when buying a solar power system

The district attorney says there are many things shoppers should consider before signing a contract for a solar power system.

  1. Life of System and Transferability:
    • How long do I plan to stay in my home? (Most solar systems are designed to stay on a home for at least 20 years).
    • If I move, is the contract transferrable?
    • How will the solar system affect home value if I decide to sell?
    • If the system is financed, will a property tax lien prevent me from selling my home until the loan is paid off?
  2. Costs:
    • What is the actual cost of the solar system?
    • How do I pay for the system?
    • Do I understand how and when I will receive any rebates or tax credits offered?
  3. Benefits:
    • Do I understand the solar system’s energy output and what offset it provides?
    • Do I understand how the system stores power?
    • Do I understand what direction the solar panels need to be facing for maximum energy generation? (South is best. North is worst.)
  4. Seller/Warranties:
    • Is the seller properly licensed?
    • Do prior customer reviews of the solar company suggest they stand behind their systems?
    • Do I know the necessary steps to be taken with Evergy to be connected to the electrical grid?
    • Do I understand the system’s maintenance requirements and warranty coverage?
    • Who is responsible for damage to the solar system from severe weather and other sources?
    • What about roof replacement if the roof is damaged but the solar panels are still functioning?

To file a consumer complaint with the Sedgwick County District Attorney’s Office, visit the DA’s website. The site includes phone numbers, email addresses and an online complaint form.

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