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Utah-based Vivint Solar accused of defrauding New Mexico residents, jeopardizing home ownership

Posted at 1:16 PM, Mar 08, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-08 15:44:23-05

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The New Mexico Attorney General’s Office is suing Lehi-based Vivint Solar, claiming the company is defrauding customers in New Mexico and jeopardizing their home ownership, in some cases.

A complaint filed Thursday in the 2nd Judicial Court in Bernalillo County alleges Vivint binds its New Mexico customers to 20-year contracts that require them to pay increasing amounts for the electricity generated by the solar equipment placed on their homes.

According to the complaint, potential Vivint Solar customers in New Mexico are told they can expect to save 10 to 30 percent on their power bill every month. However, due to a cost escalator built into company’s 20-year Residential Solar Power Purchase Agreement, “consumers are guaranteed to see their electric rates rise by more than 72% over the life of the contract,” the complaint states.

Vivint is also accused of filing improper notices in consumer real estate records, which allegedly identify the customers as “debtors,” leading to a condition called “cloud on title,” which can complicate the sale of a home.

“I will fight to protect the rights of all New Mexico consumers and hold giant, out-of-state corporations accountable who abuse, mislead and employ dishonest practices to defraud our hard working families,” said Attorney General Hector Balderas in a statement sent to FOX 13. “Every New Mexican deserves access to clean, affordable energy, and the development and expansion of rooftop solar should be encouraged by businesses that use the industry’s best practices to help consumers become more energy independent.”

In response to Thursday’s filing, a Vivint Solar representative sent the following statement to FOX 13:

Our commitment to our customers is to provide them the opportunity to adopt clean, renewable energy while always adhering to the highest ethical sales standards. We believe we have honored this commitment in New Mexico and that our practices in the state comply with applicable law. While we take these allegations very seriously, we strongly believe this lawsuit lacks merit. We cannot comment more specifically on pending litigation.

Watch FOX 13 News and for updates.