3 On Your Side

Update: Valley homeowner released from 20-year solar contract

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Rachel Woolley's long ordeal with solar power has ended. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5 News) Rachel Woolley's long ordeal with solar power has ended. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5 News)
(3 ON YOUR SIDE) -

A Valley homeowner was leasing solar panels for around $130 a month and was contractually obligated to pay for 20 years. That comes to around $30,000, but there’s a big update since the initial 3 On Your Side report aired.

Rachel Woolley's long ordeal with solar power has finally ended with a happy resolution.

“Yes, so happy. I'm so grateful. None of this would have been possible without you guys, for sure.”

In previous 3 On Your Side reports, Woolley explained how she wanted to go green and decided to enter into a 20-year contract where she agreed to lease solar panels from a company Sunrun.

[RELATED: Phoenix homeowner says 'going green' makes her see 'red']

[RELATED: Update: Solar customer gets refund]

"They sold us on the idea that with this number of panels we would have 100% of our energy needs covered," said Wooley.

Unfortunately, though her savings were not what she thought they would be. In fact, over the course of a year, Woolley says she actually spent more on electricity than if she had never gone solar at all.

"We used 20% less energy last year and we managed to pay almost $1000 more than we would have if we'd never gone solar in the first place."

So 3 On Your Side got involved. After Sunrun investigated the issue for us, the solar company decided to make things right for Woolley who says,

"Sunrun finally admitted that they could not save us money as promised so they agreed to terminate our lease and remove all the panels off our roof."

That's right. Because Rachael's energy costs would not be lower, Sunrun agreed to send their employees back to Rachael's Phoenix home and they removed all of the solar panels that they had installed.

Sunrun also decided terminate the 20-year contract, which would have amounted to around $30,000 over two decades.

Harper: "Not only does Sunrun come out to Rachel's house and remove all the solar panels but they also patched part of her roof when the solar panels were bolted down, and it gets even better, the company is also sending Rachel a $3,100 check so she could all of her roof replaced."

And here's the $3,100 check she just received.

Woolley says she feels the solar company went above and beyond when it comes to resolving her issue.

Not only will she be getting a new roof, but she is thrilled to be out of that 20-year contract that would have cost $30,000.  

Harper: "You don't have to pay those monthly payments for 20 years?"

Woolley: "Nope."

Harper: “And that comes to around $30,000?"

Woolley: "It sure does."

Harper: “So we just saved you $30-grand!"

Woolley: "You sure did and yes, a whole lot of anxiety. I'm so relieved that it's over. I'm grateful to 3 On Your Side for coming to our aid and I'm also thankful to Sunrun for doing the right thing in the end."

A big thank you to Sunrun for resolving this issue. They didn't have to let her out of that $30,000 contract but they did and we appreciate that.

Below is a statement 3 On Your Side received from Sunrun on 2/15/18

“Ms Woolley is currently on the APS Combined Advantage electricity plan. This plan includes demand charges which punitively charge the customer for their single highest hour of electricity use every month, no matter their electricity use the rest of the month.

Demand charges are more commonly applied to commercial customers and Arizona is unique in applying demand charges to residential customers.  Demand charges are typically not a suitable rate design for residential customers because they are difficult for customers to understand and the variability in their electricity bills make it difficult for solar savings to offset these charges.  

Due to Ms Woolley’s unique energy use, combined with her demand charge electricity plan, she is unable to experience the savings typical of Sunrun solar customers. Ms Woolley requested that we remove the solar panels from her roof and, given her unusual circumstances, we have honored her request.

The majority of Sunrun’s customers are charged on a volumetric rate, which means they are charged for the total amount of electricity they use over the whole month.  These charges are more easily understood, provide certainty, and can be offset by solar energy that is generated during the day, providing the customer with more control over their energy bills and savings on their utility bills.

Solar power remains the most abundant, accessible and low-cost energy source, and Sunrun is committed to bringing clean solar energy to Americans. We continue to urge regulators and utilities all over the country to adopt customer-friendly electricity rates so that more Americans enjoy the choice to go solar and receive the health and environmental benefits solar offers, as well as lower energy prices.”  

For more information on demand charges please visit: http://www.stopdemandcharges.com/  

Click/tap here to download the free azfamily mobile app.

Copyright 2018 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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Gary HarperGary Harper is the senior consumer and investigative reporter for 3 On Your Side at KTVK-TV.

Click to learn more about Gary.

Gary Harper
3 On Your Side

With more than 20 years of television experience, Gary has established himself as a leader in the industry when it comes to assisting viewers and resolving their consumer-related issues. His passion and enthusiasm have helped him earn an Emmy for Best Consumer Reporter from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. He’s also garnered several Emmy nominations

He has negotiated resolutions with companies of all sizes, including some of the biggest corporations in the nation.

Gary has successfully recouped more than $1 million for viewers around the state, making 3 On Your Side one of the most popular segments on KTVK and the station's Web site.

He's best known for investigating and confronting unscrupulous contractors. In fact, many of his news reports have led to police investigations and jail time for those who were caught. Viewers, as well as the companies and people he investigates, regard him as consistently being thorough and fair.

Gary has been with KTVK-TV since 1997. Prior to his arrival in Phoenix, he worked for WZZM-TV in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he was as an anchor and reporter.

Gary is from Chicago, but launched his television career in Lubbock, Texas, after earning a broadcast journalism degree from Texas Tech University. Following his graduation, he was quickly hired by KLBK-TV in Lubbock, where he enterprised and broke numerous exclusive reports. His aggressive reporting in Texas helped garner him Best Reporter by the Associated Press.

Gary has been married since 1994 and is the proud father of two sons. When he's not helping viewers, Gary is busy catching up on his favorite college and professional football teams as well as cheering on his beloved Texas Tech Red Raiders.

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