Actions

CBS 6 helps Virginia couple who spent years trying to make their new solar panels work as promised

Posted at 7:49 PM, Apr 24, 2023

DINWIDDIE COUNTY, Va. — A family living in southside Virginia thought they’d do something for the environment and save money on their electric bills: they’d heard a great pitch on solar panels, and decided to go all in.

Sam and Kim Lloyd invested tens of thousands of dollars, knowing they could qualify for a $25,000 federal tax credit, and hoped that the system would bring them big savings every month.

I visited them at home recently.

“That’s your back-up battery? That’s the grid?” I asked Sam Lloyd, pointing to the graphics displayed on an app on his phone.

“That’s the grid, and you can see we’re throwing them 6.46 kilowatts.” Sam said.

The Lloyds are now thrilled their solar panels are now producing electricity and those welcome benefits.

Problem Solver Solar Problem

“The general theory is that your electric bill goes away, but it is replaced by the solar system,” Kim Lloyd said. “What you really gain is your ability to self-supply.”

The Dinwiddie couple can now generate power to run their household and send excess power back to the local grid.

Their utility then gives them credits, which cuts their bill substantially.

While their power system sounds ideal, the road to get here was anything but easy.

“From day one, it was not good,” Sam Lloyd said. “The first crew that came in and got stuck coming in the driveway. That should have been our first sign.”

The Lloyds signed a deal with a contractor, called PowerHomes Solar, in early 2021. From the start, they were alerted to problem after problem.

Their backyard array, an alternative to mounting panels on the roof, required concrete pilings which weren’t set properly.

“So before we even started worrying about the system producing any electricity, the whole system had to be dismantled and torn down and started all over again,” Kim Lloyd said.

The Lloyds said PowerHomes returned time and again, but to no avail.

Then last April, the company changed its name to Pink Energy and a few months later, declared bankruptcy.

Nearly two years in, the Lloyds’ system was a bust and the bills were mounting.

“We could watch the app and we could tell that the system wasn't producing anywhere near what we had been sold that it would produce,” Kim said. “The app was telling us that. Our electric bills were telling us that. We were stuck with a payment, paying for the solar system that was as much, if not just a little more, than what our electric bill was. Now we had doubled our monthly investment in electricity.”

It turns out their system was missing a key part called a Snap RS.

When Pink Energy was shuttered they blamed equipment manufacturer Generac, whom they said they were suing for not supplying thousands of the critical connectors.

The Lloyds said one of the repair crew told them as much.

“Pink Energy is involved in the lawsuit with them because Pink Energy feels like Generac should have supplied them and Generac, for whatever reason, doesn't,” Kim said. “And we don't know when we can get them here. We don’t when we can them installed.”

But that was about to change.

“Almost immediately when you got involved, now there's a project manager assigned direct from [solar panel contractor] Sunnova,” said Kim.

I reached out to Generac to find out about the lawsuit and what the power systems manufacturer, a publicly-traded company based in Wisconsin, could do for the hundreds, if not thousands, of solar customers, left on the hook with faulty systems after Pink Energy’s collapse.

“I get called directly from the contractor to set up an appointment, and they appear the next Monday,” said Sam Lloyd.

Generac spokesperson Tami Kou sent me a statement that reads in part:

“We are disappointed to hear of any instances where customers are not satisfied with the performance of their system…. We understand that consumers are frustrated by their experiences with Pink Energy. However, Generac remains committed to our customers. We stand by our products and warranty obligations… we’ve been in contact with the Lloyd family and are actively working on assessing and addressing their situation.”

And sure enough they were.

“This has been a tremendous effort over the last couple of years,” Kim said. “You get involved, and a week later we have a service call and everything's up and running and the app is producing like it should.”

The Lloyds said Generac has proved as good as their word. They just hope others get the same results.

“I have a direct contact with Generac. They've been incredible. But like I told you earlier, I appreciate your efforts so much, but you have to wonder how many other people are out there. “

If you’ve had trouble with a solar installation that was installed by Pink Energy (formerly PowerHomes Solar), you can reach out to Generac at solarsupport@generac.com or 1-800-396-1281 for assistance.

Sunnova is the contractor that Generac has retained to troubleshoot faulty systems.

Depend on CBS 6 News and WTVR.com for in-depth coverage of this important local story. Anyone with more information can email newstips@wtvr.com to send a tip.

EAT IT, VIRGINIA restaurant news and interviews

CBS6-News-at-4pm-and-Jennifer-Hudson-480x360.jpg

Entertainment

Watch 'The Jennifer Hudson Show' weekdays at 3 p.m. on CBS 6!

📱 Download CBS 6 News App
The app features breaking news alerts, live video, weather radar, traffic incidents, closings and delays and more.