Solar company vanishes, leaves woman with broken system

Solar company vanishes, leaves woman with broken system (Photo: KUTV)

(KUTV) Theresa Forrester decided to go a little greener by putting solar panels on her home. Last April, she signed a contract with a door-to-door salesman who stopped by her Smithfield home.

"They had come to my door and they had this supposedly great deal," said Forrester.

But Forrester said the deal went sour after the installation. In the seven months since, she says the panels have only worked for about 3 weeks. Forrester says the installation company, Solar Installs, have come back a few times, but now she's unable to reach them. Worse, Forrester said she's paying two bills: her Rocky Mountain Power bill, as well as the loan on the expensive solar panels.

"It makes me feel ripped off," said Forrester, "I'm feeling really ripped off at this point."

We started reaching out to the company on Forrester's behalf, but weeks went by with no response to phone calls or emails. Upon visiting the listed address for Solar Installs, we found the office closed and seemingly vacant. Some workers clearing out the warehouse for the company could not tell us where to find the company.

For Utah, the solar business is booming, with lots of new solar energy companies emerging. But Jane Driggs, President of the Utah Better Business Bureau, told us not all companies will last.

"Eventually, there will be too many solar companies," Driggs said, "and then the great ones are going to survive and the others are going to go out of business."

For consumers, Driggs said there's not a magic way to tell which companies are great and which ones will go under, but it helps to do due diligence: find out how long the company has been in operation, if they have filed all legal requirements to be in business, and look at what their past customers are saying.

"What are those complaints? What are those reviews saying?" said Driggs. "That may save them."

While we were never able to make contact with Solar Installs, we did reach out to the Utah Solar Energy Association. Their president put us in touch with another solar company, who stepped up and fixed Theresa's system for free.

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