FTC Workshop Will Examine Competition and Consumer Protection Issues in the Rooftop Solar Business #00189

Submission Number:
00189
Commenter:
Kelvin Lafond
State:
New Jersey
Initiative Name:
FTC Workshop Will Examine Competition and Consumer Protection Issues in the Rooftop Solar Business
Hello, I am writing to report an electrical safety issue I have with Vivint Solar operating system on my home [REDACTED]. Vivint placed stickers on it claiming ownership of it. Safety concerns with the panel noticed within 2 months of system activation (October 2015): * has no emergency shutoff and is always energized * solar system generates 168 amps to 100 amps original pushmatic electrical panel * makes noise when system is activated (breakers are humming, and house lights burn quickly) * It is not grounded according to current NEC codes (panel is original unit about 50 years old) Vivint Solar then took 30 days to send a technician to respond to my safety concerns, even after agreeing to pay their $500 surcharge and claims of it being an emergency. Their electrician inspection validated my safety concerns and offered to fix the issues with consent of their headquarters office. The electrician started that a panel upgrade (200 amps, flip switch breakers) should have been part of their initial solar installation plan and would confer with his installers and design team. The electrician returned days later to make an estimate of materials needed to submit to his office. He then secured the panel with zip ties in the off position and took pictures of everything to submit to management. It has been over 3 months, since the electrician contacted me to let me know that his local boss was refusing to complete the repairs that headquarters had originally approved because of cost. He claimed that the company will not complete the repairs. Now I have an inactive and unsafe solar system on my roof that I cannot use. Additionally, Vivint solar continues to charge prorated nonuse charges for 6 months so far. My concern is that this system passed city inspection for activation. Vivint Solar has not tried to contact me or send me documentation claiming refusal of repairs. How can I have this system reinspected so that Vivint can replace it? City electrical inspector finally visited my home (did not inspect home after initial installation) after being contacted by NJ Clean Energy. He stated that the system was in accordance with and unspecified NJ Code. I was not provided any documentation. Vivint continue to ask me for money on a system that is not in use and was secured by their own technicians. Prior to installation: Sales person stated that Vivint would change the panel as part of initial setup if I decided to use their service. Their inspector showed up 1 day later and took pictures of current panel and also recommended changing panel to meet current NEC. The installation was later setup for 3-6 months waiting period, but they showed up and installed the system 4 days later. I then noticed them drilled directly into the panel that should have been replaced, asked why and they said that is how they were instructed. It then took 6-8 months for the system to be activated. Within 2 months, I noticed a significant amount of electrical fixtures stopped working (bulbs burning out, electrical appliances stopped working) or making noise. The electrical panel was making a lot of noise (loud humming), which prompted me to contact Vivint customer service. Vivint then wanted $500 just to have a technician come to check the system. Even after agreeing to the cost, they did not show up and instead directed me on the phone on how to shut down the system. It then took several more calls and 2 months before an electrician was sent to my residence. The Vivint electrician inspected and suggested the panel remain deactivated due to solar panel output exceeding the capacity of the electrical panel. He also made these recommendations to his supervisor, who then opted to reprimanding him on the phone and insulting me as a Vivint customer. Despite my numerous complaints, including contacting NJ Clean energy, the system remains deactivated. Vivint made one call to me 2 months ago stating that they will look in it.