Hank Investigates: Solar Panel Installation Problems

NEW BEDFORD, MASS. (WHDH) - Going green is great, but one local family says when they put solar panels on their roof it turned into a disaster — that turned into another a disaster. Now their home is such a wreck, they have to live in a camper. How could going green go so wrong? Hank Phillippi Ryan investigates.

Christine Levasseur, a mother from New Bedford, says she got burned when she tried to go solar.

“It has been one of the worst things that has ever happened to me in my entire life,” she said. “It’s very heartbreaking.”

Blue tarps now cover the leased solar panels Christine had installed on her home.

She says the job was so poorly done, it caused a catastrophic roof leak.

“It was basically raining in my entire house. The sheetrock caved right in and the plywood on top of the house went in,” Christine said.

Now the inside of her house is a disaster. Her belongings are hidden under plastic, and she says the place is so full of mold and fungus her family has to wear masks to go inside.

“It’s very emotional to come in and to know what my house did look like. We had a beautiful home that we loved,” Christine said.

As a result, she and her three kids are living in a cold, cramped camper in their own driveway.

How could this happen? Our investigation found a state building inspector determined the installation of roof solar panels should not have taken place.

And the state told me the contractor should have known Christine’s roof was not suitable for the panels, and that the solar panel brackets weren’t properly sealed which can cause leaks leading to damage.

“I need to get the panels removed because we can’t do any repairs on the house or even begin to hope and dream to get into our house,” Christine said.

The solar installation company says they did nothing wrong.

Christine says the company she leased the panels from told her she has to pay $9400 to have them removed from her roof.

And if she wants to keep them off she will have to break her contract and pay another $55,000.

“I don’t have that money. I don’t think it’s fair that I should have to be fined for something that should never been put on my roof,” Christine said.

Now with winter on the way Christine is panicked about how to pay all that money to get rid of the panels and then more to repair her house.

She’s worried she may have to send her kids to live somewhere else while she battles for her home.

“I shouldn’t have to be away from my kids who have been my heart and soul and my purpose for living,” Christine said.

Christine’s attorney recently filed a lawsuit against the solar company and the installer.

Both companies tell me the panels had nothing to do with the roof leak.

Solar contracts can be complicated so make sure you understand the potential problems.

For more information about solar panels check out:

Massachusetts Attorney General’s office tips and how to file a complaint.

Hank Investigates story about leasing solar panels and UCC filings.

To send Hank a tip or story idea, email: tellhank@whdh.com

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