As I mentioned while I was covering West Coast Casualty’s Construction Defect Seminar in May, solar panel installers are one of the new targets for construction defect claims. The U-T San Diego is reporting that the school district recently was burned by solar installers:
Solar panels were taken down from 24 San Diego Unified School District campuses over the summer after the products were found to have defects including premature corrosion causing a danger of roof fires.
The manufacturer of the panels, Michigan-based Solar Integrated Technologies, has filed for bankruptcy protection. The district expects to pay $400,000 more annually for energy in the coming years because of the dismantling of the installations.
The panels, installed in 2005, were expected to last at least 20 years. They cost the district nothing to install, although the district agreed to a price for the energy supplied over 20 years.
The district had purchased a power and maintenance contract from the now bankrupt solar company and GE. Fortunately for the district, GE offered to pay for the panels to be removed, after refusing to maintain or repair/replace the defective panels.
Defective panels exhibiting similar premature corrosion have been observed at an additional four school sites, but those came from a different supplier.