SOUTHERN COLORADO — Buying solar panels is a big investment---often costing customers thousands of dollars.
Two years after making that investment, Jeff Lamborn says he still is not getting what he purchased.
"I was hoping to curb my electric bills because they were up to $200 a month," Lamborn said. "I believe that this is part of the future."
While solar may indeed be part of the future, his system still isn't hooked up.
The unfinished project has left him with his normal utilities bill plus monthly payments for solar panels that are considered "useless" for now.
"With everything going on, I'm paying my electric bill plus my solar bill," Lamborn said. "Instead of $200, I'm paying $350-$360."
Lamborn says he signed a contract with Sopris Solar in December 2018.
A year later, no progress was made on the project.
The project was eventually outsourced to a company called Blue Sky Solar.
"I've been calling them once to twice a week, every week to see where we are at," Lamborn said. "No one gets back to you. Somebody said I needed to call KOAA Channel 5."
When we met with Lamborn at his home, it appeared the solar project was near completion. However, there was no solar meter anywhere to be found on the property.
News 5 Investigates reached out to Black Hills Energy. A spokesperson said that Blue Sky Solar hasn't signed off on the project and filled out the required paperwork they need in order to come out and install the meter.
We then contacted Blue Sky Solar for comment via email and by phone.
A customer service representative told us last week that they are well aware of Lamborn's case and are working to resolve it as soon as possible.
"It's frustrating because I know I should be getting something that I'm not," Lamborn's said.
Blue Sky Solar has not responded to a follow-up inquiry asking for a date when Lamborn's solar system can be "online".
A phone call seeking comment from a manager with Blue Sky Solar has not been returned.
It's also important to note that Sopris Solar, the original solar company that took on Lamborn's project has been at the center of several News 5 investigations in the past.
Jo Self contacted News 5 Investigates for help after major delays in getting her solar system set up.
To make matters worse, Sopris failed to pay a third-party company that installed the panels which resulted in a lien being placed on her home.
After our original story aired, Scot Birrell, the new owner of Sopris Solar called the homeowner directly and wanted to make things right.
"He says he wanted to get this off their record because it was impacting their business very negatively," Jo Self told News 5 in an interview.
After months of back and forth communication, we are happy to report that Sopris Solar did take care of this customer's case by reimbursing her for the cost to remove the lien.
We have not yet received a response from Sopris Solar regarding Lamborn's case.
Update (Week of April 12):
After our original story aired, a local solar company reached out to KOAA News 5 and wanted to finish the project for Lamborn. We're happy to report that with the help of that generous solar company, Lamborn's system is now online and working. They also worked closely with Black Hills Energy to expedite the permitting/approval process.
Timeline of events:
December 2018: Lamborn hires Sopris Solar to install solar panels at his residence in Fremont County
October 2019: After multiple delays and project installment issues, Lamborn reaches out to the solar finance company for help
November 2019: Solar finance company contracts with Blue Sky Solar to finish the solar project
March 2021: News 5 Investigates meets with Lamborn at his home after learning the solar project was still not completed
March 24, 2021: News 5 Investigates reaches out to Blue Sky Solar via email to find out more about the project delays
March 26, 2021: After no response from Blue Sky Solar via email, News 5 Investigates called Blue Sky directly. A representative told us the project was on their radar and they are working to resolve it. KOAA News 5 requested a call back from a manager, but that did not occur.
March 29, 2021: News 5 Investigates followed up again with Blue Sky Solar via email to discuss Lamborn's situation
April 1, 2021: Our first investigative report airs into the delayed solar project
April 3, 2021: Nick Dorotik, one of the owners of Blue Sky Solar emails News 5 Investigates and contradicts information the company previously provided. Dorotik stated via email that the company was not going to proceed forward with installing Lamborn's solar system.
April 5, 2021: After Blue Sky Solar advised they were immediately going to stop work on Lamborn's system, News 5 Investigates contacted Lamborn with positive news that another local solar company had volunteered to finish the installation and get the solar system up and running.
April 12, 2021: News 5 re-visited with Lamborn at his home and confirmed his solar system is operational. The solar company that volunteered its time to finish the project went over repairs and work they had done. In our fair and balanced coverage, we reached back out to Blue Sky Solar to offer them an opportunity to address each of the issues that were brought to our attention with work that had been previously performed, but not completed.
April 13, 2021: After we did not receive a response from Blue Sky Solar to our previous email on April 12, we followed back up again for comment. To date, our interview request has not been granted.
April 19, 2021: A new story update on this case is available here.
Do you have a problem or issue you'd like News 5 Investigates to look into? Email us: News5Investigates@KOAA.com