Action 9

‘That’s not good’: Homeowners feel burned by solar power promises

ORLANDO, Fla. — An Orlando homeowner feels burned by a solar energy company that charged $55,000 for a system that didn’t deliver promised savings on his power bill.

Consumer investigator Todd Ulrich interviewed Brett Jaffee about his solar panels at his home near downtown Orlando.

Jaffee thought the partly sunny skies would have generated lots of power that day.

“No. That’s not good; we want it going out,” Jaffee said, pointing to the arrow on his meter.

He said it should be pointing in the other direction because of the sunshine hitting his solar panels.

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“I’m using OUC’s power right now in the middle of the day, instead of the solar power we paid to put on the roof,” Jaffee said.

Jaffee signed a $55,000 solar installation contract with Vision Solar Florida, based in New Jersey, last year.

According to Jaffee the sales rep said the system would slash his power bills.

“So, we would be reducing our bill $200 a month,” Jaffee said.

“Sounded attractive?” Ulrich asked.

“Sounded perfect,” he replied.

Jaffee claims he never saw those savings. His utility bill from three months ago shows the solar panels only supplied six percent of the power his family used, far from the 100% he expected.

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He says the company kept giving him the same response. “They just kept telling us, ‘Nope it was installed properly and working properly.’”

Vision Solar is rated F at the Better Business Bureau based on over 300 complaints and how it responded.

Three other consumers contacted Action 9 this year claiming Vision Solar did not deliver promised savings, and all attempts to solve the problem kept failing.

“I’m just at the point where I was like ‘listen, I don’t even want to do business with you guys anymore.’” Eric Rivera signed a $43,000 Vision Solar contract more than a year ago then attempted to cancel it.

Rivera says the system failed a county inspection and he didn’t have any savings for months.

“How much were you supposed to save once the system was installed?” Ulrich asked.

“They told me it’ll be half of my current bill,” Rivera replied.

Action 9 sent the four consumer complaints to Vision Solar. Ulrich received several emails from the company’s chief marketing officer who wrote, “Each of these customers, you included, are my top priority and I want to see any challenge resolved as quickly as possible.”

That includes finishing Rivera’s installation, so it passes inspection and trimming trees around Jaffee’s home, so the system generates the power he expects.

“Since I contacted you, they jumped right on it and have admitted for the first time, there was a problem,” Jaffee said.

Before signing a solar contract, get at least two estimates and check out the U.S. Department of Energy’s online solar guide that tells you how much you could lower your power bill.

Todd Ulrich

Todd Ulrich,

I am WFTV's Action 9 Reporter.

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