ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – There is a new ray of hope for victims of a solar company accused of defrauding customers in New Mexico.
In 2018, then-Attorney General Hector Balderas filed a lawsuit against Vivint Solar. The Attorney General’s office accused the company of racketeering and of tricking homeowners, locking them into long contracts with high prices. The state later settled with the company for nearly $2 million. But that money went to the state and Attorney General’s office, not the thousands of customers affected by Vivint’s alleged practices.
“Unfortunately, the settlement didn’t take care of the end users but it also didn’t tie their hands. So, they’re free to pursue those remedies to this day,” said Patrick Griebel, an attorney with Marrs Griebel Law Ltd. in Albuquerque. Griebel is now working to find and help victims who may have been left to fend for themselves.
“Anybody who is still trapped in one of those contracts, there are ways to renegotiate your way out of that,” he said.
According to Griebel, there are more than 3,000 New Mexicans who could be in troublesome contracts with the company, now owned by SunRun. He said he’s made contact with about 150 of them and is helping resolve 30-40 of those cases. Griebel said current Attorney General Raul Torrez is trying to work around a protective order in the case that keeps Griebel from seeing case documents, including a possible list of customers impacted.
“For us, it was a way to try and send a signal, especially to out-of-state companies, that if they want to do business in New Mexico, to shoot straight with folks and make sure it’s a win-win for the customer and the solar company,” said Griebel.
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Griebel is encouraging potential victims to reach out to his office and is reminding anyone interested in solar, that this is simply the case of one bad apple.
“For 100 solar installations in Albuquerque, 98 of them go fine. It’s a great experience for folks, highly recommend it,” Griebel said.