[co-author: Stephanie Kozol]*
Rhode Island Attorney General (AG) Peter F. Neronha and his office filed a motion on November 30, to amend and supplement their complaint against Smart Green Solar, LLC (Smart Green) and its CEO, Jasjit Gotra, for allegedly violating the Rhode Island Deceptive Trade Practice Act. The proposed amended complaint builds on the allegations the office made in June, identifies additional alleged illegal conduct, and adds two more company executives, Christopher Schiavone and George Nixon, as individually named defendants.
The original complaint claimed that Smart Green went door-to-door, making unsolicited sales pitches for residential solar panel systems and engaged in unfair and deceptive trade practices. The AG’s office sought a court order requiring Smart Green to stop misleading customers, provide paper contracts to customers, and pay restitution.
The AG’s office cites new information as the basis for filing an amended complaint, having apparently received 55 complaints regarding the company. The information derived from the office’s investigation allegedly further supports its original allegations but also serves as the basis for new allegations, according to a press release issued by the AG’s office.
The proposed amended complaint further builds on existing allegations in four main areas: tax credits, training practices, savings/electricity production, and cancellation policy/copies of contracts.
The complaint also requests additional injunctive relief from the Court, including a requirement that the company provide customers with itemized invoices, a permanent prohibition on charging customers in connection with bonus payments, and an order banning individual defendants Gotra and Schiavone from the consumer sales industry in Rhode Island. In referring to Smart Green, Neronha said the company “deceived and took financial advantage of Rhode Islanders who wanted to support our state’s clean energy transition.”
Why It Matters
It is clear that Neronha and his office’s Consumer Protection Unit will go to great lengths to protect Rhode Island consumers as the state moves to implement sustainable energy initiatives. This should serve as a warning to all companies in the solar industry to monitor their sales practices and marketing programs, or face government scrutiny.
*Senior Government Relations Manager