3 ON YOUR SIDE (3TV) - Debra Dehner says she struggles month after month just to pay her utility bill, particularly during the summer.
"My monthly bills are like $319 plus. I have to pay $100 to solar. That's $419 a month," she said.
Dehner says $419 a month is outrageous considering she used to only pay $80 before she contracted with a company called the Sunnova Energy Corporation and went solar.
In an internet commercial, Sunnova claims they can turn your home into an energy-saving powerhouse by simply going solar.
And that's exactly what Dehner says a Sunnova salesman told her four years ago when he knocked on her door.
"He promised my electric bills would be lower," she said.
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The chance to lower her $80 utility bill sounded great. So, the Fountain Hills woman agreed to lease solar panels for 25 years and have 18 of the panels installed on her roof.
Leasing the panels cost Dehner about $102 a month, but she says she thought she'd see extra savings with a near zero utility bill. But, Dehner says instead of going down, her electric bill is in the hundreds of dollars.
"I absolutely hate it. It's the worst mistake I ever made is to get into solar," Dehner said.
Dehner says she can no longer keep up with the leasing payments and the mysteriously high electric bills. She is in a financial crisis.
"Now I’m behind as far as making the payments," Dehner said.
As a result, Sunnova sent Dehner a letter saying because she's delinquent in her monthly payments, the company wants to have the entire balance paid "now." The total was around $18,000.
So, she contacted 3 On Your Side.
"Get me out of the contract and give me the money back that I put into it," Dehner said.
This past year, 3 On Your Side successfully negotiated three different Valley families out of their solar contracts and even had their solar panels removed, all because their solar bills were higher instead of lower.
However, Sunnova wasn't as eager. The company agreed to look into Dehner's issue at our request and sent eventually sent us this email saying, "We have been in communication with Ms. Dehner and have come to a resolution on the matter that is satisfactory to her requests. As a result, Ms. Dehner no longer requires being released from her solar contract."
But Dehner says that can't be further from the truth and she's not satisfied at all with Sunnova's resolution which is to reduce her leasing payments from $102 to $66 starting in January.
Dehner tells 3 On Your Side she appreciates our involvement, but she won't be happy until the contract is cancelled and the panels removed.
"I would not recommend solar to a dog," Dehner said.