Solar panel company fined $200K for faulty business in Kansas – KWCH

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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) – A $220,977 default judgment was entered against a Tennessee-based solar power company for deceptive acts and practices in Kansas.

After receiving complaints, the Sedgwick County District Attorney’s Consumer Protection Division investigated Design 1 Group LLC. The Consumer Protection Division alleged Design 1 violated the under the Kansas Consumer Protection Act (KCPA) 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.
  • Failing to provide proper three-day notices of cancellation.

The court ordered Design 1 Group LLC to pay $106,780 in restitution to the consumers, $110,000 in civil penalties, and court costs and investigation fees. Design 1 Group LLC is now prohibited from doing business in Kansas unless properly licensed, according to the courts. The company must also obtain all necessary permits.

The District Attorney reminds consumers to exercise care when shopping for a solar power system. The District Attorney suggests consumers, at a minimum, consider the following issues before purchasing a solar system:

  • 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?
  • Costs: What is the real 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 that are offered?
  • 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.)
  • 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?

On Friday, 12 News spoke with a local roofing company that said this is a good reminder to make sure you know who you’re doing business with, especially if you’re investing in solar panels. As solar-paneled homes become more popular, Keeter Roofing advises being aware of door-to-door salesmen trying to pressure you to make a quick decision.

“They try to corner you, create a sense of urgency, make you make a rash decision where you may not know all the facts of the whole situation,” said Keeter Roofing COO Justin Murray.

Other tips to keep in mind if you’re interested in solar panels:

  • Know how long you plan to stay in your home, and if you move, is your contract transferable?
  • How much is it expected to cost and the return on your investment?
  • Do research into the company you’re looking at. Are they licensed within the state? What do the reviews say? What is their warranty coverage? A good thing to remember in Kansas is to consider who is responsible if severe weather, like hail, damages the panels.

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