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Groups Urge KY Residents to Beware of Solar Scams

Solar panel on a red roof
diyanadimitrova - stock.adobe.com
Solar panel on a red roof

After a company known as Solar Titan USA was recently banned from doing business in Kentucky, advocacy groups are working to raise awareness of the signs of solar fraud.

Hundreds of consumers were duped into making thousands of dollars in payments for solar panels which were improperly installed, took months to install, or did not deliver on the company's promises, according to the Attorney General's office.

Lowell Wagner, a resident of Jackson County, saw an online ad for Solar Titan. He said a representative came to his home and signed him up for monthly payments, but never finished the installation, did not notify his local utility company, and did not respond to subsequent calls.

"We talked to our financial advisor, and we said, 'These guys are under lawsuits, so we're not going to pay him any lump sum,'" Wagner recounted. "I think we paid them $5,000 to start with, but it was $20,000. It's just 10 panels, and no battery."

More than 100 complaints about Solar Titan have been reported in the Commonwealth over the past few years. People who suspect they have been scammed should report it to the Federal Trade Commission or to the Kentucky Attorney General's Office of Consumer Protection.

Carrie Ray, energy programs coordinator for the Mountain Association, said those who are interested in solar for their home, business, or church should know the signs of a solar scam. She added limited-time offers, "instant" rebates and aggressive sales tactics are all red flags.

"I don't know any reputable solar companies operating right now that aren't very busy already," Ray pointed out. "They don't need to get you to sign immediately."

Wagner noted after calling a friend for help to finish the installation, and sawing down a few trees to increase the amount of sunlight hitting the panels, he is glad he made an investment in renewable energy. He just wishes he did not have to put in the extra money and time to finish the job himself.

"Our electric bill has really gone down," Wagner observed. "And I think maybe -- of course, we're in the summer, and we're we got some window air conditioners -- but seems like it's gone down maybe $100 a month, at least."

The Kentucky Solar Energy Society website, kyses.org, has list of vetted solar companies operating in the state.

Nadia Ramlagan covers the Southeastern and Appalachian region for Public News Service (Kentucky, West Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee), and co-produces 2022Talks, a national newscast tracking U.S. politics and elections.
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