A solar energy company recently awarded $3 billion by the Biden administration has been accused of scamming elderly people, and Republican leaders in the House and Senate are now asking the Energy Department to provide more details about the deal.
Sunnova Energy Corporation, a residential and commercial solar energy company based in Houston, benefited from “the single largest commitment ever made by the Federal Government to solar power” when the Biden administration announced a loan guarantee with the energy company on September 28. Recent “credible reports of predatory sales strategies,” however, alarmed Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), the chair of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, and Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), ranking member on the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.
“We are alarmed about recent, credible reports that Sunnova has racked up numerous consumer complaints, including those alleging troubling sales practices, such as Sunnova pressing elderly homeowners in poor health to sign long-term contracts costing tens of thousands of dollars,” Barrasso and McMorris Rodgers wrote in a letter sent earlier this week to Jigar Shah, the director of the Loan Programs Office (LPO) at the U.S. Department of Energy.
“These reports cite interviews with individuals who struggled to deal with large contracts that their elderly parents signed shortly before passing away as well as state consumer complaints alleging maintenance delays and predatory sales strategies,” the letter stated.
One woman said that a door-to-door salesman for Sunnova sold her father, who she said was in hospice care, a $60,000 solar system for his mobile home shortly before his death, The Washington Free Beacon reported last month.
“My dad told [the salesman] at that time he was on hospice and dying. And basically, he wasn’t in his right mind,” said Mary Loller, adding that Sunnova placed a lien on her father’s property preventing his family from selling it after his death.
Another person, Texas resident Terry Blythe, told the Free Beacon that her 86-year-old father who had been diagnosed with dementia was convinced by a Sunnova salesman to buy a 25-year solar panel lease in 2020. The contract was worth $34,000, which Blythe said she was left to deal with after her father died.
“It was truly ripping off old people It was the biggest ripoff I’ve ever seen,” she said.
As far back as 2019, the Puerto Rico Energy Bureau released a report on Sunnova, which confirmed some of its customers’ complaints, including misleading them about the costs of solar panel financing and contracts.
“Residents in other parts of the country have also reported problems with Sunnova systems, including deceptive sales practices,” the Republican lawmakers’ letter continues. “These allegations are particularly troubling, as LPO has stated this program will focus on disadvantaged communities.”
President Joe Biden has been pushing the Democrats’ leftist green energy agenda seeking to address the “climate crisis” and has emphasized expanding solar energy. Earlier this year, the Biden administration launched a $7 billion “Solar for All” grant competition proposed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and created by the president’s Inflation Reduction Act.
McMorris Rodgers and Barrasso are requesting the Energy Department to provide documents and any information regarding its treatment of the concerns raised by the letter. The Energy Department has until December 21 to provide the lawmakers with the information they’re seeking.
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