Homeowners caught in crossfire between solar companies

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Sun Lakes, Ariz. - Ray Baxter is the owner of the business Alfreda Wilson and Louis Simmons hired to install solar panels on their sun lakes home.

They paid $16,000 and had the system installed last year but say because of Baxter, they could lose their home altogether.

“It's not right!” Alfreda said.

Earlier this year, Baxter's solar panel supplier, Consolidated Electrical Distributors, filed a lawsuit against Baxter and placed liens on the homes of nine of his customers.

The lawsuit claims Baxter's business, Arizona Power Save, has refused to pay CED for supplies.
“It’s not our fault that he didn't pay for his materials,” Alfreda said.

So why are homeowners who paid stuck in the middle?

Because of a contract that homeowners supposedly signed which “allows CED to file a mechanics lien against the project if it is not timely paid.”

But Alfreda says she doesn't remember signing any such contract, and has hired attorney Mike Fiflis.

“No one was told about CED at the time they were signing their contract, no one was told you’re going to give a lien to the supplier,” Fiflis said. “People were, at least in my opinion, clearly duped into doing this.”

3 On Your Side has tried to contact Ray Baxter but we're not the only ones.

A process server wants to serve Baxter with a $200,000 lawsuit accusing him of skipping out the lease at his Tempe business address.

“Oh, we'll find him,” the process server said. “He can't run forever.”

The only response 3 On Your Side has received from Baxter was a short email stating, "Agreement reached, payments made, liens released!"

We checked and according to Baxter's supplier that filed the lawsuit in the first place, no liens have been released.

That leaves homeowners like Alfreda and Louis still in limbo.

“If we have to pay the $14,000, it's gonna take all our savings, it's gonna wipe us out,” Alfreda said.

Baxter had until June 1, 2011 to pay the settlement agreement, $50,000, but we're told that didn't happen.

Meantime, a judge has 20 days to issue a letter of recommendation as to what should happen with Baxter’s contractor's license.

UPDATE: June 9, 2011
A judge has recommended that Baxter's license be revoked unless 'the Arizona Registrar of Contractor's receives and accepts written proof that Baxter has paid $137,465.51 to CED.'

UPDATE: July 8, 2011
The Registrar of Contractors has ordered Baxter's contractor's license be suspended effective August 16, 2011.