March 20, 2023

Homeowners Pay Toronto Solar Panel Company Nearly $65,000 | CBC News

Sreedevi Dasari hoped to take advantage of federal grant and loan programs by installing solar panels on her house on Toronto’s west side to save money on her water bill and help the environment.

But now the single mother has $3,500 she paid for the solar panels as a deposit.

“I feel like I’m stuck,” said Dasari, who lives in Milton, Ont.

He is one of half a dozen homeowners in Ontario and Alberta who told CBC Toronto they collectively owe nearly $65,000 on solar installation contracts with Toronto’s Sunwave Inc., which acquired their business through door-to-door sales. Sunwave says it is investigating customer complaints

Customers say the sales representatives they dealt with have left the company, and calls and emails to Sunwave Inc. from homeowners have gone unanswered.

In April, Dasari signed a $24,700 contract with Sunwave to purchase and install a solar panel system on the roof of his home. After paying the deposit, Dasari says he was supposed to hand over half of the remaining balance when the final design was completed in July, but he says that never happened.

“I don’t have anything right now,” he said. “So even if I want to go to another company, I have to start over.”

Dasari is concerned that restarting the process could affect his eligibility for Canada’s Greener Homes Grants and Loan programs, which were launched last year. Through the programs, homeowners like Dasari can get up to $5,000 for the solar panels they install and up to a $40,000 interest-free loan to finance a green retrofit.

Natural Resources Canada administers the programs. The federal ministry said it has received complaints from homeowners about Sunwave and is following up on the allegations.

Sunwave’s lawyer told CBC Toronto in a statement that the company is aware of its customers’ allegations and takes their concerns seriously by investigating the complaints with its lawyer.

“We appreciate the patience and cooperation of all clients as we investigate these allegations,” said attorney Carly Waisglass.

A retired Alberta couple paid $30,000

Heather Robinson’s parents signed a contract with Sunwave in October 2021. The retired couple, who live just outside Calgary in Chestermere, Alta., did not pay a deposit. Instead, Daniel and Heimke Campbell received a design plan for the solar panels a month after signing the contract and then paid $30,300 in December.

Daniel Campbell and his wife received this solar panel design plan from Sunwave Inc. in November 2021. Since then, according to their daughter Heather Robinson, no further work has been done to install solar panels at her parents’ Chestermere, Alberta home. (posted by Heather Robinson)

At that point, Robinson says the company told her parents they would have to wait until spring for installation. But now, almost a year after her parents signed the contract, she says no additional work has been done.

“I emailed and called the office every other day and nothing — no response, no call back,” Robinson said.

“I don’t know if they drowned and couldn’t follow or what happened, but I hope that’s the case and somehow we get something back.”

When CBC Toronto contacted the company, two customers said they had received refunds from Sunwave, and Dasari said a former sales representative told him he would receive a refund soon.

But others, like Robinson and Ken Fritz of Kitchener, Ont., have received no assurances.

Ken Fritz plans to have another company install solar panels on his home in Kitchener, Ont. (Posted by Ken Fritz)

“They won’t answer me. I’ve tried everything under the sun to get a hold of them,” said Fritz, who paid a $3,500 deposit in March.

He says this has been a learning experience, and while he still plans to find another company to install solar panels on his roof, he makes sure they have references.

“You really need to do your homework.”

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