Solar companies accused of targeting elderly Americans using ‘troubling sales practices’

A woman believes her 86-year-old mother with dementia was the victim of a scam after signing up for a loan to finance $60,000 worth of solar panels, as the Biden administration faces questions from Congress about its support for the industry. 

“It started out as a sales call where the salesman from the solar company came and just talked to her and said, ‘We can set you up for solar. You’ll be able to get it for practically nothing. You’ll be able to get a tax credit from both state and federal,'” Patsy Brownson told host Jesse Watters

“[They said] we’ll set up the solar panels and everything’s great, and we’ll make sure everything goes okay.”

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Brownson told Watters she later received an upsetting phone call from her mother, who had been left to foot a massive bill.

“I got a phone call from my mother, and she’s absolutely panicked. She’s crying. Basically, she got a letter from the funding company or the lending company saying, ‘Welcome aboard. You have a loan with us for over $60,000 for over 25 years,’” she said.

“My mother says, ‘I did? How did I do that?’”

When Brownson asked how her mother – who was living on a fixed income – could have qualified for a loan of that size, she said the company refused to disclose details.

Watters, reacting to Brownson’s story, criticized the company for appearing to be pushing a “huge scam.” 

“They’re preying on older people, poor people with dementia. It’s got to stop, and Joe Biden’s financing it,” said Watters.

A spokesperson from ADT Solar, formerly SunPro, told Fox News Digital: “We recognize that selecting a solar provider is a significant decision for families, and we strive to make sure all customers are fully informed and comfortable before purchasing our products. This situation was no different. The customer’s son was present with her during the initial consultation, the contracting process and the installation. We have worked with the family and look forward to reengaging them to find the best path forward for our customer.”

Earlier in the week, Watters spoke to Terry Blythe, a woman with a similar story, who accused Sunnova Energy of scamming her 86-year-old father, who also has dementia, into purchasing $30,000 worth of panels.

Her complaints coincide with a number of others, including a 2019 report from Puerto Rico’s Energy Bureau, accusing the company of misleading consumers on the costs, contract length and potential savings from their services, as reported by USA Today. 

Watters said numerous viewers texted him with similar complaints about solar energy sales practices.

Houston-based Sunnova has faced criticism from congressional Republicans who blasted their reported use of “predatory sales strategies” similar to those Brownson described.

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House Energy and Commerce Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., and Senate Energy and Natural Resources Ranking Member John Barrasso, R-Wyo., in a letter to DOE Loan Programs Office Director Jigar Shah, expressed such concerns about consumer complaints.

“We are alarmed about recent, credible reports that Sunnova has racked up numerous consumer complaints, including those alleging troubling sales practices, such as Sunnova pressing elderly homeowners in poor health to sign long-term contracts costing tens of thousands of dollars,” they wrote.

The lawmakers continued, writing, “These reports cite interviews with individuals who struggled to deal with large contracts that their elderly parents signed shortly before passing away as well as state consumer complaints alleging maintenance delays and predatory sales strategies.”

Sunnova did not respond to Fox News Digital’s prior requests for comment.

A Sunnova spokesperson, however, told the Washington Free Beacon, “All customers, regardless of age, are required to complete a thorough validation process where we confirm their identity and ensure that they have read and comprehended the terms of their agreements,” and explained that the company “cannot and [does] not decline to enter into an agreement based on a customer’s age.”

“[Sunnova is] fully dedicated to assisting all our customers in resolving any issues that may arise during the life of their agreement or due to external factors.”

FOX News’ Thomas Catenacci contributed to this report.

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