Federal government investigates consumer complaints against solar company

The federal government confirms it has received homeowner complaints against national solar company Sunwave Solar, adding it’s following up on the allegations.

Global News first reported Tuesday that several homeowners across the country, including in Alberta, said they had given the Ontario-based company a deposit for the installation of solar panels on their homes, following a door-to-door sales pitch from a salesperson.

“He was a well-educated salesman and well-spoken,” Okotoks resident Jim Barclay said of the person who came to his door.

“He had the majority of the answers that we wanted,” neighbour Larry Swanson agreed. “I was interested.”

Both men were particularly sold on the service after they said they were promised a rebate from the Canada Greener Homes Grant Initiative.

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“On mine, it was going to cost me a total of $10,100,” Swanson said. “I would have got $3,600 back.”

They said they filled out the form for the grant, but neither has received any money back. Instead, they said they’re both out a deposit of $3,500.

They also claim the company has ghosted them, not providing the product or service for months.

Alberta residents raise concerns about Canadian solar company. Tomasia DaSilva

Watch: Alberta homeowners warn about Canadian solar company

Global News contacted the federal government to find out if the company had indeed submitted the forms on the homeowners’ behalf for a rebate. Again, we were told the government was aware of complaints.

“Sunwave has no affiliation nor is licensed by NRCan to provide any services in conjunction with the Canada Greener Homes Grant initiative,” said Keean Nembhard, press secretary for the Office of the Minister of Natural Resources.

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“Should our findings indicate that the EnerGuide Rating System or the Canada Greener Homes Grant initiative is being used to sell products by Sunwave, a cease-and-desist letter would be issued.”

Global News also contacted the Alberta government to find out if the company was licensed to sell door-to-door in the province.

The office of Service Alberta and Red Tape Reduction told us a company named Sunwave Inc. was licensed as a prepaid contractor as of June 6 this year.

We also asked about the ban on door-to-door energy sales. We were told that ban does not include solar energy sales, as it was not identified as a significant concern back in 2017. The province said that may now be revisited.

Barclay and Swanson also told Global News it was suggested to them that Sunwave Solar was somehow working with Fortis Alberta.

Peter Brodsky, a spokesperson for Fortis Alberta, told us that is not true and that he is “deeply sorry for any implied connection with Fortis.”

Read more: Alberta woman issues warning about water filtration company after being left with costly contract

How to protect yourself

There are many ways consumers can avoid becoming the victim of an energy scam.

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NRCan suggested consumers:

  • refuse any in-home inspection from a door-to-door salesperson;
  • refuse all offers of an energy rebate, a free product or claim of lower energy bills just to sign a contract on the spot;
  • don’t click on suspicious phone calls, text messages and emails.

Service Alberta suggested consumers and businesses complain to the province’s consumer investigation unit or visit alberta.ca for links on how to check you rights and if an individual or business has been charged, convicted or had a licence suspended.

Global News has tried several times to get answers from Sunwave Solar about the accusations, but only received one email Tuesday.

It stated that the company takes all complaints seriously and “will do our best to investigate and resolve the matter.”

&© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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