What to Know
Homeowners say they signed contracts and paid deposits for solar panels but were then asked for more money before any work was done.
Several homeowners say a Virginia solar energy company isn’t honoring their contracts.
Ryan Wagener decided to invest in solar energy for his Arlington home to save money. Tim Manning wants solar panels on his retirement home in Bluemont. They hired Independent Solar Solutions.
Both say they signed a contract, paid a deposit and then, weeks later, before any work started, company president Niko Eckart asked for more money.
“This is for the supplies, for the actual solar panels,” Manning said.
He said they wanted the money before ordering the panels, but in the company's own contract, it specifically says, "It's against the law for a contractor to collect payment for work not yet completed or for materials not yet delivered."
Neither Manning nor Wagener noticed that and said they paid the company thousands more. Almost a year later, neither has solar panels.
"They have just over $17,000 of my money," Wagener said.
NBC4 Responds called and emailed Eckart and his business partner, Michael Geaneas, numerous times, and they didn't respond.
At Eckart’s home, he said to find him at his office instead, but the Ashburn address on the company website is occupied by a different business.
At the Leesburg address Geaneas uses in his email signature, there was an Independent Solar Solutions trailer in his driveway, but no one answered the door.
Aaron Sutch's organization, Solar United Neighbors, represents homeowners who want to go solar. He said he's heard from at least five homeowners who say the company isn't honoring their contracts.
“It was just something that came as a surprise to us, and again, I think we’re really expecting them to come around and to meet the standards that we see in the solar industry in Virginia,” he said.
Independent Solar Solutions eventually sent News4 a statement about Manning's complaint, saying, “Independent Solar Solutions has maintained the position of refunding Mr. Manning's money or completing the project. The company plans on resolving this with Mr. Manning.”
“That's the fourth time I've heard that,” Manning said.
Wagener said he hopes sharing his story will have a positive outcome.
“This has the potential to be embarrassing in a different way in public to a certain extent that maybe you warning them that we're going to do this and you have an opportunity to fix it,” he said. “Makes them look like good guys in the end.”
Geaneas acknowledged receiving an email from NBC4 Responds but did not provide a statement about Wagener’s contract.
Independent Solar Solutions’ contractor's license is still active. The Virginia Attorney General's Office has three complaints filed against this company.
Reported by Susan Hogan, produced by Meredith Royster and edited by Perkins Broussard.