Chippewa Valley customers raise concerns over incomplete solar projects

Published: May. 7, 2018 at 5:20 PM CDT
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Dozens of customers in Wisconsin are fighting to get their money back after they say a Minnesota based company failed to complete solar energy projects for them.

A Chippewa County couple says Able Energy, which is based out of St. Paul, has taken thousands of dollars from them without starting work on their solar project.

John and Shawn McMartin said they've lost about $18,000 and the company hasn't made any moves towards construction on their home solar energy system

John described the situation that’s been dragging on for more than two years as a “nightmare.”

“They worked up a very nice package for us and presented it to us and then unfortunately when they got the money that's kind of that last we've seen of them,” he explained.

The couple says they were among 30 others involved in a Chippewa Valley buyers group that Able Energy said would discount the solar systems through bulk purchasing.

Shawn added, “They told us they wouldn't have the final group together for few months so they couldn't tell us exactly when our system would be put in but we were given a target date of April to May of the spring of 2017.”

Since the couple made their second payment hitting that total of $18,000 Able Energy estimated they'd begin building after that in a couple of months but it has now been nearly a year since then.

“There are a lot of people that are putting much needed funds that could have been used in much more serious places than this,” said Shawn. “So, I guess why we're speaking out is that we don't anybody else to get stuck in a situation like this.”

Now the couple is working with the non-profit Midwest Renewable Energy Association to build a case against Able Energy to try and get work done or their money back.

Executive director Nick Hylla said, “We feel that there is a strong possibility that if we can pressure Able Energy enough to get them to focus on completing the installation that's really our best case scenario is completing the work that's already started.”

The group has been looking at legal options including pursuing criminal proceedings as a last resort to bring a resolution to issue.

Hylla said it’s the company’s interest, “to make sure that this resolves and to make sure people are aware of some of the complications and how to deal with a contractor and maybe formally establish pathways to resolution like they have in other states.”

WEAU did reach out to Able Energy multiple times and were able to leave one message with the company however we found most of their voice message systems were full and have yet to hear back.

The couple tells us sixteen projects among their Chippewa Valley group have been completed but say 14 remain to be finished.

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