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Attorney general files suit against solar company

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(The Center Square) – Alleged deceptive practices is the focus of a Rhode Island lawsuit against a solar company.

Attorney General Peter F. Neronha announced the filing of a suit against Smart Green Solar LLC and Jasjit Gotra, its chief executive officer, on Wednesday. The lawsuit says the solar company violated the state’s Deceptive Trade Practice Act by using unfair and deceptive trade practices while selling solar panels.

“The conduct alleged in the complaint is deeply concerning,” Neronha said in a statement announcing the court filing. “As alleged, the defendants deceived and took financial advantage of Rhode Islanders who were looking to do the right thing and ‘go green,’ leaving them with significantly less than they bargained for.

“This type of behavior disincentivizes and fosters distrust among those who wish to do their part to mitigate climate change, potentially setting us further behind Rhode Island’s climate goals.”

Neronha said he is “greatly concerned” about how unregulated the solar sales industry has become and a lack of strategic thinking for implementing programs.

“Plainly, there is a leadership void that needs to be remedied, and with dispatch,” Neronha said in a statement. “In any event, and in the meantime, this Office will continue to use the much-strengthened consumer protection law we fought for to protect Rhode Island consumers and go after businesses that don’t play by the rules.”

Smart Green is accused, according to the complaint, to have used deceptive practices in its unsolicited door-to-door sales pitches. As part of the suit, Neronha seeks a court order requiring the company not to mislead customers, give paper contracts on-site to potential customers, and pay restitution to affected customers.

According to the complaint, a group of consumers “confirmed to the Attorney General’s office” that they felt salespeople misled them. Residents felt they were misled about eligibility for the federal Residential Clean Energy Tax Credit and other financial benefits.

According to a release, the clean energy tax credit provides up to 30% in tax credits for eligible purchases. The complaint alleges Smart Green employees are trained by management to guarantee customers receive the tax credit, “describing the credit as an ‘I-owe-you’ or ‘down payment’” from the federal government.

In the complaint, Smart Green is accused of taking advantage of a visually impaired customer. The company convinced the customer to purchase 33 solar panels, but only 21 were installed. The company is accuased of not notifying the customer of the issue until the attorney general’s office stepped in.

In addition, the complaint says Smart Green did not notify customers of a three-day right-to-cancel policy and directed them to electronically sign documents after scrolling past terms and disclosures of the contract.

Neronha urges customers seeking more information about purchasing solar panels safely for their residence to visit the dedicated webpage on the attorney general’s website.

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