12 January, 2022
Semper Solaris Complete Failure
Semper Solaris was paid $1000 and acknowledged our contract of $28,950 for the installation of two Tesla Powerwalls on 7 November, 2020. The filing for the SGIP refund was stalled until this installation was approved by PG&E on 4 December, 2020 for a refund of $26,400.
On 9 December, 2020 I was informed by Semper Solaris we must wait for Tesla to ship the Powerwall batteries, currently on backorder. Semper Solaris expected to receive the batteries in March to April 2021.
On 11 January, 2021 Semper Solaris requested a site assessment, and was sent detailed diagrams and documentation of our current solar panel installation. The site assessment was completed on 12 January, 2021. The contract project then entered Semper Solaris Design and Review process.
On 1 February, 2021 Semper Solaris billed me for a change order, as they determined the batteries would not be installed in our garage, as pre-planned, but must be installed “within a free standing structure”. I asked for more information as to the exact location of this structure and noted my fears at this installation being at risk due to the lack of communication and progress of Semper Solaris, requesting weekly updates. Theses updates never occurred, and I declined to pay for this change order without more information about the details.
I sent Semper Solaris another request for information regarding this recent change order of over $1600, stating I was very concerned the lack of communication and slow construction process. I stated if Semper Solaris did not provide a design document within one week I would ask for a refund to pursue this installation with another, more responsive, solar contractor.
On 16 February, 2021 Semper Solaris finally explained, in one cryptic sentence, the installation must be up-stream of our generator installation to avoid system electrical damage. On 24 Febrary, 2021 I objected to this change as I did not want the batteries installed over ¼ mile away from our home, isolated at a distant corner of our property. I again complained about a complete lack of any communication with Semper Solaris for the entire month of February.
On 24 February, 2021 Semper Solaris explained they could put the batteries in our garage for a fee $11,100, or build a smaller free standing structure for just $600, or half their original estimate. On this date I approved the change to a free standing structure, with the stipulation I receive a drawing showing the installed location.
On 2 March, 2021 I received a diagram of this free standing structure, showing how the batteries would be placed on posts connected by steel channel. The change order noted the batteries would be installed by the “Main Panels”. I made the mistake of assuming the “Main Panels” were the electrical panels on our garage, next to the generator and PG&E feed into our garage and home. I sent Semper Solaris an electrical diagram showing exactly how our home is currently wired to both PG&E and our standby generator.
On 9 March, 2021 I received a confusing document and asked for clarification. I received this clarification on 11 March, 2021, finally showing the installation was to be at the lot line, almost 2000’ from our home. I was told any additional information would have to wait until the construction plans are drafted. I approved these changes, fearing any more delays.
On 1 April, 2021 I received notice the building permits had been submitted. I signed a waiver for any damages or risk involved in my generator installation, absolving Semper Solaris of any harm.
Semper Solaris disappeared, despite repeated requests for progress updates, until 20 May, 2021,
when Semper Solaris sent copies of the building permit requests.
Semper Solaris disappeared, despite repeated requests for progress updates, until 12 July, 2021, when I received a note saying they are “working to get a tentative install date scheduled for before 12/4/21.”
Semper Solaris disappeared until 4 September, 2021. I no longer requested any information from Semper Solaris, feeling this project will fail, and I will simply receive a $1000 refund.
On 4 November, 2021 I received a note saying installation is scheduled for the 10th and 11th of November, 2021. I received a bill for $22,840. Not having the amount in cash I paid by CC, costing me an additional $686.
Semper Solaris crew shows up, and in three days, working from ~10:30 am to ~ 1:30 pm accomplishes the digging of two holes and setting two posts in concrete, adding steel cross bars, installing 3” NMT to the main PG&E panel, and hanging two Tesla Powerwalls, a distribution panel and the Tesla Gateway. Not a single wire was pulled.
This work crew of Ty and Nathan spent their time dealing with a truck with faulty brakes, waiting for PG&E to resolve an electrical safety issue, and constantly discussing on their phones issues with missing parts, parts delivery, work scheduling, and, for hours, with another solar installer, Citadel Electric, arranging new jobs for themselves and several others. They hated Semper Solaris as much as myself, and for the same reasons - management incompetence.
I learned Semper Solaris had these batteries for several months, since April, but no one at the North California office wished to do this distant installation, as it entailed driving all the way from Modesto and lots of digging. Semper Solaris simply did not wish to do this contracted work. After paying over $24,000 I was getting extremely nervous over the lack of progress, facing the SGIP deadline of December, 2021.
On 23 November, 2021 no one showed up for work. On 24 November, 2021 Semper Solaris filed for a SGIP extension.
On 24 November, 2021 no one showed up for work, this after a promise a crew would show up and work until the job was completed.
On 24 November, 2021 I participated in a telephone meeting with several Semper Solaris managers. After being told explicitly a crew would show up to complete the work on 1 December, 2021, the crew shows up to dismantle all the previous work, moved all the equipment into my garage, and promptly departed.
On 3 December, 2021 the SGIP extension was approved by PG&E.
On 6 December, 2021 I formally notify Semper Solaris I consider our project contract invalidated by their repeated installation failures. Semper Solaris continues to blame me for their failure, citing electrical code issues, completely unrelated to their scope of work, discovered in November, 2021, during the only 3 days of works they accomplished.
On 8 December, 2021 Semper Solaris informs me of another site assessment to be accomplished the next day, 9 December, 2021.
On December 10 Semper Solaris informs me “it would be best to cancel the contract.” “Your refund will be processed once we receive the equipment.”
I immediately counter they will not be allowed to touch the equipment until I receive a refund, knowing after 15 months of their “process” capability. I counter by offering to buy this equipment “at a fair and equitable price.”
On 21 December, 2021 Semper Solaris informs their legal team is completing the contract closure.
On 6 January, 2022 I receive from Semper Solaris the contract, wherein they sell me the Tesla Powerwalls and related equipment for the entire $24,525.20 paid them over the last 15 months. I consider this unacceptable, as I am paying them for work never attempted, let alone completed.