Southern Arizona | Investigating 4 You

N4T Investigators: Solar shuffle

TUCSON – Gloria Perez says she was tricked into leasing solar panels by two salesmen. “I feel very bad about this,” she told the News 4 Tucson Investigators. “You know, it’s not good for them to tell lies when they’re trying to sell something.”

Nearly 30 panels are on the roof of her west side home. Mrs. Perez claims the salesmen who showed up unsolicited told her she’d been awarded a grant from Tucson Electric Power, and that she wouldn’t be charged a cent for the panels. “They said, ‘We have a TEP grant that will pay for everything. It’s like a trial in your neighborhood,” Mrs. Perez said.

Mrs. Perez said the panels were installed free of charge in August. Then she received in the mail a 20-year-lease for the panels, starting at $134 a month, increasing by 2.9% annually until reaching $230.67 in year 20.

The 80-year-old widow insists she never signed the lease, that her signature was forged. “I’m one-hundred percent positive that nothing like that was signed,” she said. She says she always includes her middle initial in her signatures; those on the lease did not.

We asked Mrs. Perez, “If they had given you a 20 page lease agreement like this, you would know?” “Yes,” she said. “I keep my papers very much in order.”  Regarding a lease scheduled to end when she would be 100 years old, Mrs. Perez smiled and said, “I’m not going to be here in 20 years.”

We are not naming the solar company because we have no documented proof that their affiliated salesmen duped Mrs. Perez. We reached out to one of the salesmen and he never got back to us. The salesmens’ regional manager insists that Mrs. Perez did sign the lease.

However, after we contacted the solar company, its spokesman said it has stopped seeking payment from Mrs. Perez while it investigates her claims. Regardless, door-to-door salesmen pitching free solar has been a problem the past few years.

Tucson Electric Power spokesman Joe Barrios told the News 4 Tucson Investigators, “Unfortunately, we do hear instances where customers are told things that simply are not true.” Barrios said TEP does not offer grants to customers and that financial incentives were ended more than three years ago by the Arizona Corporation Commission. Barrios said, “And if they assured that they’re receiving a grant, that’s not something that involves us.”

Barrios said if someone knocks on your door and says you have been awarded a TEP grant, you should call TEP. Then, call your local law enforcement agency.

Mrs. Perez says, “I’m not paying the solar company anything. Let them come and remove the panels.”

Again, the solar company told us it will not seek payments from Mrs. Perez while it investigates what happened.

In any case, if a solar salesman comes to your home and claims you’ve been awarded a grant from TEP, get his contact information then tell him to leave and report him to police.

If you have a story you’d like us to investigate, email us at investigators@kvoa.com or call our tip line at 520-955-4444.

Jacob Murphey

Jacob Murphey

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