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Solar Affiliate Of Retail Supplier Enters Settlement With State's Attorney General Over Alleged Deceptive Sales Practices

May 4, 2021

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Copyright 2010-21
Reporting by Paul Ring •

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New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal announced that NRG Residential Solar Solutions LLC ('NRG') has agreed to pay approximately $69,000, "to resolve allegations that it used deceptive sales practices to mislead consumers into leasing solar energy panels, failed to deliver promised energy savings, and made misrepresentations regarding servicing, installation, and financing in violation of New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act and related consumer protection regulations."

An NRG media representative provided the following statement concerning the matter:

"Residential Solar Solutions [RSS], which stopped marketing or leasing rooftop solar systems in February 2017, recently signed an agreement to resolve an inquiry initiated by the New Jersey Attorney General based on sales that took place prior to winding down operations.

"RSS did not admit to any wrongdoing but is committed to ensuring that all complaints are resolved to customers’ satisfaction and any issues do not recur. We are happy to have this matter behind us and will continue to work to ensure the needs of the customers and the terms of the agreement are met."

--- Statement from NRG media representative

The AG's office said in a news release that, "As part of the settlement reached with the Division of Consumer Affairs, NRG will change its policies and practices, and enter binding arbitration to resolve pending consumer complaints from consumers who choose that option, as well as new consumer complaints for a period of one year."

The AG's office said that NRG also agreed to offer two consumers who filed complaints with the Division the option to have the solar panels uninstalled and removed from their home at no cost.

"False savings claims are serious allegations," said Sean Neafsey, Deputy Director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs. "This settlement illustrates that we intend to hold companies accountable for what they tell consumers, and they should design their business practices accordingly."

The AG's office said that the Division opened its investigation after receiving more than 20 consumer complaints alleging that NRG, among other things, "failed to deliver promised savings, failed to timely make repairs after damaging roofs of consumer homes during installation, improperly delayed the installation and activation of solar energy systems, and failed to honor provisions in consumer lease agreements."

The AG's office said that, under the terms of the Consent Order, NRG agreed to make significant changes to its business practices, which include:

• Implementing policies and training for its employees and third-party vendors who perform door-to-door solicitation, including scripts that incorporate all required disclosures concerning any leasing offer;

• Disclosing all pertinent information prior to the lease transaction, providing consumers with adequate time to read agreements, and advising them of the three-day cancellation period;

• Confirming consumer financing before installing a solar system;

• Avoiding damage to a consumer’s home while installing the solar system;

• Clearly and conspicuously disclosing in the lease agreements the term, lease payment amounts for each year including any increases in payment amounts and other applicable fees, and the formula by which to determine costs to the consumer in the event the consumer cancels the lease agreement;

• Honoring consumer cancellation rights and performance credit obligations in the event of non-compliance with the performance guarantee; and

• Developing an adequate complaint resolution process to ensure that its call center representatives contact the consumer within five days of receipt of any complaint to advise the consumer of the next steps, and continuing to provide periodic updates of any developments with regard to the consumer’s complaint until the complaint has been resolved.

The $68,951 settlement includes $30,000 in civil penalties, $20,197 for investigative costs and attorneys’ fees, and $18,754 in consumer restitution.

The consent order provides that, "This Consent Order is entered into by the Parties for settlement purposes only. Neither the fact of, nor any provision contained in this Consent Order shall constitute, or be construed as: (a) an approval, sanction or authorization by the Attorney General, the Division or any other governmental unit of the State of any act or practice of Respondent [NRG Residential Solar Solutions LLC]; and (b) an admission by Respondent that any of its acts or practices described in or prohibited by this Consent Order violate any State or Federal laws including, but not limited to, the CFA, the Plain Language Act, the TCCWNA, the Contractors' Registration Act, the Home Improvement Regulations, and/or the Advertising Regulations."

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