Tenn., Ky. AGs seek to help customers of Pink Energy

WSMV4 Investigates' Lindsay Bramson has an update to a story she's been following closely.
Published: Nov. 22, 2022 at 5:53 PM CST
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - Nine state attorneys general, including Tennessee’s Attorney General, are going after five solar lending companies saying customers were sold a product that is “not functioning.”

The company at the center of the investigation is Pink Energy, also the subject of several stories by the WSMV4 Investigates team.

What the attorneys general want is for Pink Energy customers to be released from loans they took out to pay for the solar panels.

“This office is committed to protecting Tennessee consumers from unlawful and illegitimate business practices,” Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti said in a news release. “Companies that cheat customers through false representations should and will be held accountable. I’m proud of our Consumer Protection team’s diligence in investigating this matter.”

Even though Pink Energy closed in September, customers are still paying off the loans they have on the solar panels on top of already high electricity bills.

In many of these cases, customers said they were promised lower electricity bills, but they’ve seen higher bills.

Now many are stuck with loans for tens of thousands of dollars.

The Kentucky Attorney General’s Office is asking the solar lending companies to suspend the payment obligations of Pink Energy customers.

The Kentucky AG’s office has received more than 70 consumer complaints on Pink Energy.

The Tennessee Attorney General signed onto the letter after an onslaught of complaints that consumers submitted before Pink Energy abruptly closed operations and filed for bankruptcy on Oct. 7. Several consumer complaints have also been submitted to bankruptcy filing, mainly by consumers who are worried about having to continue paying for a solar system that does not operate as promised. In their letter, the attorneys general explain that many of the complaints received by their offices allege that Pink Energy made “false representations regarding the systems’ capabilities and anticipated electric bill reduction.”

As a result, consumers “who were led to believe they were making an environmentally friendly and financially prudent decision by purchasing a solar power system from Pink, are now stuck making loan payments for an underperforming or non-functioning solar power system on top of their monthly electric bill.”

WSMV4 Investigates reached out to Tennessee’s Attorney General Office and a spokesperson said they have received dozens of complaints.

The coalition, which also includes the attorneys general from Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Virginia, also noted that consumers have alleged that Pink Energy misrepresented consumers’ potential eligibility for tax credit. Many of the lenders’ financing arrangements presumed that even the ineligible consumers could use their 26% credit toward a lump sum payment.

However, as the attorneys general outline in the letter, “For many consumers, not receiving the promised tax credits has left them unable to make the necessary lump sum payment required to keep your company, or an affiliated lender, from substantially increasing their monthly loan payment. These consumers relied on Pink Energy’s representations regarding the tax credits in deciding that they could afford the terms of their loan, and the increased monthly payments are beyond what their budgets could handle – especially when the solar power system is not functioning properly (or at all).”

The letter from attorneys general were sent to Dividend Solar Finance, GoodLeap, Cross Riverbank, Sunlight Financial and Solar Mosaic, urging these solar lending companies to suspend the payment obligation of Pink Energy customers until the completion of the coalition’s investigation into possible consumer protection law violations.

“Kentuckians should be able to trust companies to deliver the products they claim to offer,” Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron said in a news release. “We sent this letter to five solar lending companies to protect the financial welfare of Kentucky customers of Pink Energy while we address allegations of deceptive business practices.”