A new lawsuit filed by Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison accuses a group of solar panel sales companies, executives and financial lenders of deploying deceptive and fraudulent practices to sell solar systems to Minnesota homeowners.
In an announcement Tuesday, Ellison said the defendants violated Minnesota law by tricking homeowners into binding contracts, deceiving customers into believing they were partnering with utility companies and exaggerating potential cost-savings.
The lawsuit filed in Hennepin County District Court names the following defendants:
Four Utah-based companies:
- Brio Energy LLC (d/b/a Pure Solar Energy and Clean Energy Educators).
- Bello Solar Energy (f/k/a Total Solar Solutions and Brio Solar Energy LLC).
- Avolta Power, Inc. (Brio changed its name to Bello, then Avolta as its sales practices came under scrutiny around the country).
- Sunny Solar Utah LLC (d/b/a Sunny Renewable Energy).
Three company executives:
- Jared Fager.
- Michael Kaelin.
- Alan Whitaker.
Three financial lenders:
- Goodleap LLC (f/k/a Loanpal LLC).
- Sunlight Financial, LLC.
- Corning Credit Union Services Company, LLC.
The Attorney General's Office alleges executives would train sales staff to trick customers into signing binding legal documents and threaten legal action when homeowners tried to cancel.
Solar panels sold by the companies cost anywhere from $20,000 to more than $55,000, according to the investigation.
“This is a shameful scam that hurt both Minnesota families and legitimate companies in the solar industry," Ellison said in a statement. "The recent rapid growth of solar energy in Minnesota is good, and I encourage Minnesotans who thinks it might be right for them to do their research and ask lots of questions."
"Holding bad actors like these accountable helps every legitimate solar-panel company and every homeowner that wants to save money, improve their home, and do right by the environment,” he continued.
Minnesota consumers are encouraged to report their concerns with the solar companies or lenders by submitted a complaint online or by calling the Attorney General’s Office at (651) 296-3353 (Metro), (800) 657-3787 (Greater Minnesota), or (800) 627-3529 (Minnesota Relay).