Homeowners claim solar companies promises leave them feeling burned

ORLANDO, Fla. — A Winter Park homeowner claims a door-to-door solar power contract could have been a $50,000 mistake.

Months after signing, he still doesn’t have a solar power system, and now fears the company won’t deliver the huge savings he was promised.

“What do you have to show for that when it comes to solar?” Todd Ulrich asked.

“Nothing. Absolutely nothing,” William Cavins replied.

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Ulrich spoke with Cavins outside his home that was supposed to be powered by the sun. But six months after signing a $50,000 solar power system contract, Cavins claims the seller, Meraki Solar Solutions, can’t tell him when it’s going to be installed.

“We have been shocked at what we’re going through,” Cavins said.

According to Cavins, a salesman showed up at his front door offering solar with no down payment, a $15,000 federal tax incentive, and claimed the company’s power-generating solar panels would save him money.

“The power bill would essentially come out to nothing,” Cavins said he was told.

As part of the deal, the company offered new roof financing, and it would renstall the existing solar hot water heating system when it delivered the power cells.

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Cavins said a subcontractor did finish the roof, but months later, there’s no solar installation date and no answers.

“And I can’t find anyone to tell me what’s going to hit next,” Cavins said.

Since COVID-19, Action 9 has received at least 30 complaints from homeowners who

felt burned by solar companies. Many consumers had signed door-to-door contracts they regretted.

The complaints Action 9 received had familiar patterns. Some complained that solar installations were never completed according to contract. Others claim they actually didn’t qualify for any tax incentive and that their monthly power expenses had increased, sometimes extensively.

Billie Ramos was one of those customers that complained. She claimed a solar company promised low monthly payments and a tax incentive it never delivered.

“I feel like I was totally taken advantage of,” Ramos said.

After Action 9 contacted the company about Ramos’ issues, it paid off her loan to resolve the complaint.

Cavins’ seller, Meraki Solar, has a few dozen Better Business Bureau complaints, but is rated A-plus.

Ulrich contacted the company, based in Pensacola.

Cavins is worried that even if the system is installed, it won’t deliver the promised tax break and power savings.

“How are you going to feel about this deal?” Ulrich asked.

“You don’t want to hear the word on television,” Cavis replied.

Solar could be a wise choice, but on your terms. Never sign a door-to-door contract the same day. Better yet, find companies on your own, get at least two estimates and find your own financing.

Todd Ulrich

Todd Ulrich, WFTV.com

I am WFTV's Action 9 Reporter.