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Solar company steps up to help Bastrop County homeowner experiencing solar system issues

Jul 23, 2023

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BASTROP COUNTY, Texas — A Bastrop County man is finally getting help with his solar panels, two years after first experiencing issues with them.

Justin Small told the KVUE Defenders in July that he's been paying for a broken solar energy system as he continues to see high electricity bills.

After that investigation aired, a Texas solar company contacted the Defenders offering to help.

It didn't take long for field technical trainer Marty Miller to find the problems.

"We saw the house pulling from the utility, and there was little to no production being made on the solar panels," Miller said.

It's an assessment that comes as no surprise to Small.

"Nobody should have to go through this," Small said.

For two years, h3 said his solar energy system hasn't properly worked, but he's still had to pay for the system and for high utility bills.

"It put a bad taste in my mouth," Small said.

He first told the Defenders about his issues with Pink Energy, a now-defunct solar energy company, last month.

"We weren't saving anything when it came down to energy costs and what they stated, they really oversold, saying that, you know, we would have no electric bill whatsoever. And that was false," Small said.

Small is among about 50 Texas consumers who have filed complaints against Pink Energy with the Texas Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division. He joined thousands of customers in nine other states – North Carolina, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Pennslyvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia – who are accusing Pink Energy of deceptive practices and leaving them without working solar installations.

But after the Defenders investigation featuring Small aired, Texas Solar reached out.

President and CEO Mike Sardo, said the company just wanted to help.

"My business partner is located in Corpus Christi and happened to see your news story and contacted me on a Saturday and said, 'Hey, maybe we can help this person,'" Sardo said. "It kind of tugged at our heartstrings. We hated to know that somebody had solar and had made this good investment and done the right thing for the environment, and it wasn't working."

Sardo said helping other solar consumers is not new for his company. He said Texas Solar has already made repairs for more than 50 people who aren't even his customers.

"We finished several dozen projects for a defunct lender on a mostly pro-bono basis in the San Antonio area, which is our backyard," Sardo said. "We feel like we're in the business to do good ,and we take every opportunity we can get to pass along some goodness to somebody in the hopes that they'll pass it on to the next guy."

It turned out, the issues with Small's solar equipment were easy to fix.

"Some of the things we saw was just ... some installer errors. We saw some loose connections, just things that weren't done completely right," Miller said.

It's an outcome that has left Small with a few emotions.

"I was happy about it. Surprised, shocked," Small said. "It definitely should've been the beginning experience I had."

Small now hopes to finally start seeing savings on an investment that will take 20 years to pay off.

"There's a lot of relief, actually," Small said.

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