KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A repair crew unexpectedly called a Knox County couple last week, asking if they could work on their faulty solar panels.
The couple bought the system from Solar Titan USA. The troubled Knoxville-based company was put under the federal court’s control in February after the state received more than 200 customer complaints.
The couple was pleased to learn warranty work was going to be done on their system. It took several hours for certified solar power contractors to make repairs on Penny and Fred Augustine’s faulty solar system. The couple paid Solar Titan USA over $40,000 for panels in the summer of 2021, but they rarely ever worked.
Behind the plate on the solar system’s power supply box, a new transfer switch was added. A special crew from ReNew Solar Solutions worked on the box for Generac, the manufacturer of solar batteries. The ReNew Solar technicians also replaced parts on solar panels installed by Solar Titan USA in the summer of 2021.
“This is where they took it apart and they changed the automatic transfer switch, they had to disconnect the service here, so they were able to do that,” said Fred Augustine.
“I kind of didn’t expect Generac themselves to come out, so it didn’t surprise me that they would hire other people that are well-known in the industry,” said Penny Augustine.
Penny and Fred Augustine said the technicians installed this small electronic device called a SNAP RS. The ReNew Solar crew hooked the device between each solar panel, and the SNAP RS device allows for a rapid shutdown, which is required by the National Electrical Code.
“When they turned the system on, it did transfer over and our power came on in the house,” said Penny Augustine.
But when Fred Augustine checked his app yesterday, the battery charge registered as “zero,” unlike last week when it had been charging.
“When they put that in and shut the power down, it did kick back on, but at that point, it was a sunny day and the battery obviously had been charged a little bit. But since they’ve done that because of the temperature, we’ve had no charge,” said Fred Augustine.
When the temperature dips to 40 and below, Fred Augustine said the battery does not charge at all because it is outside.
The Augustines were in Federal Court in Greeneville late last month. Michael Atnip, the owner of Solar Titan USA, and Craig Kelley, who ran day-to-day operations, met for their first hearing after a federal judge issued a restraining order against the Knoxville-based company and put it under the control of a receiver following hundreds of customer complaints to the Tennessee Attorney General.
The Augustines first contacted WATE late last year about their issues with Solar Titan.
“They’ve had everything frozen. I don’t know where that leaves us, the consumer in the state. How long is it going to take to resolve it with the attorney general, what does it mean for us and how about our warranty,” said Penny Augustine.
Right now, the Augustines’ system is not functioning. Penny Augustine hopes the system will start working once the weather gets warmer.
The couple said that Generac, the manufacturer of the batteries, said to if they have any further issues to give them a call. With Solar Titan shut down, and the court taking over, the Augustines said Generac has told them, their solar battery should be moved inside, for it to function properly in cold weather.
However, Fred and Penny Augustine said they were told that Generac would have to work with the federally appointed receiver, in order to get the money released to do the work. The Augustines said they were told to be patient.