Public Utility Commission To Investigate SolarCity For Alleged Illegal Business Practices

Sep 15, 2017

The Public Utility Commission will investigate the business practices of a national solar energy company that opened its Vermont office in 2015.

The Public Service Department asked for the investigation earlier this month and says the company SolarCity built solar projects without the required state permits. The Public Utility Commission this week said it would open an investigation.

SolarCity sells and installs net metering systems, which require approval by the Public Utility Commission before construction starts.

The department says the company promises to obtain the regulatory approval on the customers' behalf, but that there are SolarCity projects currently operating in violation of Vermont law.

The Public Service Department, in papers filed with the Public Utility Commission, said it wants an investigation into the "manner in which SolarCity Corporation conducts its business in Vermont, specifically with respect to its marketing, installation and permitting of net metering systems."

A SolarCity spokesperson told VPR that the company submitted its applications electronically, without understanding that hard copies were also required.

“We will be responding to the Public Utility Commission," the spokesperson wrote in an email. "We have been in contact with customers about this, and we look forward to continuing delivery of sustainable energy products to Vermont residents."

On the company's website, SolarCity, says it has installed solar projects in 27 states.

The company opened its Vermont operations center in Burlington and said it would hire up to 100 people at the center when fully staffed.

In a press release announcing the operations center opening, SolarCity said it took care of everything from design and permitting to monitoring and maintenance.

The Department of Public Service is asking the Public Utility Commission to impose penalties if it finds that the company violated Vermont law.