NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — It sounded like a great way to save money and help the environment.
But customers say they were lied to and wound up with expensive solar energy systems at their homes that don't work as promised.
The company behind these solar systems recently went belly up.
Now, Tennessee's Attorney General has joined other AGs to help customers who are trying to pay off huge loans on these systems.
"And so did you get what they promised?" NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked Daniel Carpenter of Clarksville.
"No, not even close," he replied.
Carpenter said Power Home Solar promised his electric bills would be next to nothing if he installed their solar energy system at his home.
"How much is it?" he recalled asking the salesperson.
"$55,000," he was told.
"I was like, 'OK," he said.
He now has 22 solar panels across his roof while the batteries and brains that run the system cover the side of his house.
It was installed a year ago, but for much of the last year, he said, it hasn't worked. And even now, it still isn't producing enough energy to power most of his Clarksville home.
"And what’s happened to your electric bills?" we asked him.
"They have not changed," Carpenter told us.
And he isn't the only one.
People across the country all tell similar nightmare stories with obvious frustration.
A customer in Ohio told a reporter there, "It's been 36 months of hell, and I don't even know what to do anymore."
Tennessee's Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti and eight other state attorneys general have now joined forces to help these customers.
"They (customers) were made promises that they were going to save a bunch of money. They didn’t save a bunch of money. Their electrical bill didn’t really go down that much. They were made promises that they would get huge tax credits. They didn’t get the tax credits they were promised. They were promised the solar cells that they got were going to work. They had faulty parts. Most of them don’t work. I mean, everything about this went wrong," Skrmetti told NewsChannel 5 Investigates.
The company once known as Power Home Solar, changed its name earlier this year to Pink Home Energy and then, abruptly shut its doors and filed for bankruptcy in October, leaving thousands of customers with systems that don't work and huge loans they took out to pay for them.
"We’re asking the lenders to hit pause," Skrmetti explained.
The AGs have sent a letter asking the lending companies to suspend customers' loan payments and any accruing interest, citing the states' ongoing investigations into Pink Energy's alleged misconduct, including false representations and violations of state consumer protection laws
"This letter is a polite ask," he told us.
But Skrmetti concedes there are no guarantees the loan companies will cooperate.
In fact, on a Facebook page set up by unhappy Pink Energy and Power Home customers, there are already complaints that lenders are still insisting on being paid.
"There are a lot of obstacles to getting consumers the relief that they deserve here, but we’re working on it and we’re doing everything we can using every tool we have," Skrmetti said.
"So I’ve got probably a third of what they promised me," Daniel Carpenter said.
He would love to stop making payments on his system which he clearly regrets buying, adding that right now, he really just wants gone.
"Just come out here and take all this stuff off my house. Clearly. Take all this stuff off my house," Carpenter offered.
If you're a Power Home Solar or Pink Energy customer and your lender is refusing to put your loan payments on hold as they've been asked to, the AG's Office would like to hear from you as soon as possible. And if you've had problems with your system and you have not filed a complaint yet with the Attorney General's office, the AG strongly encourages you to do so.
You can file a complaint or report problems with your lender at www.TN.gov/consumer or by calling 615-741-4737.
At last check, the AG's Office had received 86 complaints from customers across Tennessee.