GOOSE CREEK, S.C. (WCBD) – ‘Going green’ is not coming with the perks it promises for a Goose Creek woman.
Tina Willis said she is paying thousands of extra dollars after her solar panels stopped working, and the company she bought them from went bankrupt.
She’s also not the only one in this situation. The company, ‘Pink Energy,’ is at the center of over a thousand similar complaints, and is being investigated by the office of the North Carolina Attorney General.
Many consumers, like Willis, say they are stuck with faulty solar panels and left to cover costly repairs.
Willis said she was first approached about solar panels in November 2020. A Pink Energy salesman came to her house in Goose Creek with an enticing offer.
“They could virtually eliminate my electric bill and give me a solar payment that was equivalent to that electric bill,” Willis said. “So in essence I would just be swapping an electric bill for a solar payment.”
Her monthly payment is roughly $254. Willis signed one contract with Pink Energy and another with their recommended loan company.
“I entered into a $71,000 loan basically on what that salesman told me and promised me,” she said.
For the first two months after the system was turned on, she saw what they promised.
“I got negative electricity bills, which was fantastic,” said Willis.
It was the months after that concerned her.
A yellow light came on notifying her the solar panel system wasn’t working correctly.
“They fix it — then I’ve been without full service for a month,” she said. “Three days later it goes out again, and this goes on for all of 2021.”
Willis got a letter from Pink Energy and Generac, the company that supplies parts for solar panels. They explained there was an issue with her equipment.
Once it was fixed, she was told they replaced the bad parts with new ones. But shortly after, Willis said the problems continued.
“After nine months of this I went online because I started having trouble getting through to Pink Energy — started getting busy signals all the time,” she said.
Pink Energy went bankrupt and closed in early October. The company’s website points to “rampant customer discontent resulting from faulty Generac solar equipment.”
Generac officials told News 2 that some customers are having issues with their solar panels due to Pink Energy installations, not bad equipment.
Pink Energy filed a lawsuit against Generac over the issues. However, Willis said she is still obligated to pay back the $71,000 loan.
“I have paid over $8,000 for electricity — my light bill plus my solar bill since I got the panels,” she said.
The South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs said they are aware of the company, but they could not comment.
Carri Grube Lybarker, a consumer advocate, has a few recommendations when it comes to purchasing solar or using third-party lenders.
“You just want to make sure you’re doing your good due diligence and background work when you’re spending your good-earned money,” she said.
Grube Lybarker recommends that consumers reach out to the Department of Consumer Affairs so they can look into the matter.
Moving forward, Willis said she will get a copy before signing anything and use her own lender. She also plans to work with an attorney to see what else can be done.
The News 2 Investigators tried to reach out to Pink Energy, but were unable to get in contact.
The company Willis got her loan through would not answer questions from News 2. Instead, a company representative said they encourage customers impacted by the Pink Energy bankruptcy to contact them directly.