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Liens removed from Utah homes after solar installer "settles it out" with panel supplier

Liens removed from Utah homes after solar installer "settles it out" with panel supplier (Photo: KUTV)

(KUTV) When Gayle and Eldon Ostberg had solar panels installed, they paid the installer in-full. So imagine their surprise when they got a notice in the mail informing them their their home is being hit with a mechanic’s lien.

It seems the installer, Alliance Solar, didn't pay the company that supplied the panels. It’s the supplier that applied the lien.

"I thought, ‘they can't do that!’” Gayle said. “How can they do that when we paid the full amount to Alliance Solar?"

The Ostberg’s situation is not unique. According to court records, the solar panel supplier sued Alliance solar, claiming the installer owed more than "$408,086.09"

Alliance Solar CEO Ryan Lambert doesn’t dispute that money was owed to his supplier. Lambert says he was trying to work it out with the supplier when liens were files on the homes of several dozen Alliance Solar customers.

He blames market fluctuations for the reason his company got upside down in the first place. He says Alliance Solar grew strong in 2016 but has seen demand fizzle some in 2017. Unable to sell the panels as quickly as anticipated made it impossible for Alliance to pay its supplier on time.

"This literal situation, it's like the worst thing we could have ever imagined," he said.

Lambert says his company has finally "settled it out" with its supplier and Alliance has reorganized the way it does business, paying for all material up front, so this type of situation won't happen again.

"There's no way that it can happen to our customers again," he said.

Sure enough, Gayle and Eldon say the lien on their home has been removed and they are able to enjoy their solar panels, lien free.

This situation is a good reminder about the importance of using licensed contractors. Utah has what's called the lien recovery fund which will step in and pay off home liens when a supplier or subcontractor doesn't get paid. But the fund it only covers people who hire licensed contractors.

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