Solar panels on the garages at Highline Crossing Cohousing in Littleton, Colo. 18 months after we signed a contract with Sopris Solar for this installation, these panels are still not online with Xcel Energy, our utility, and therefore doing no one, including us, any good. [Photo by Christof Demont-Heinrich]

editor's blog logoI feel like I am about to explode and I cannot, and will not, wait any longer to unload on one of the worst solar installation companies in the American West: Sopris Solar. This, even though they are not finished with our solar installation, and lashing out right now could possibly make things worse. Of course, I am not sure how things can get worse because Sopris has been such an incompetent, poorly run solar installation company from the very start.

Sopris Solar is exactly the kind of solar installer that gives solar a bad name and severely undercuts the solar cause!

This is exactly the opposite of what I have spent more than 10 years trying to do on SolarChargedDriving.Com and in my personal life, which is to get people happy and excited about going solar. And that is the primary reason that I am putting this information out now: I want as few people as possible to be soured on solar the way that Sopris Solar has soured dozens and dozens of unsuspecting homeowners on solar.

It is all so incredibly disappointing, vexing and frustrating. And we are far from the only ones who have been fleeced by Sopris Solar, as you can see by the online reviews  — SolarReviews.Com: https://www.solarreviews.com/installers/sopris-solar-reviews/, EnergySage.Com: https://www.energysage.com/supplier/22622/sopris-solar/ — and even investigative reporting stories about Sopris Solar by local Colorado news stations.

It is beyond flabbergasting to me that I, someone who is experienced in solar and has been advocating for solar for more than a decade, could find myself/us at Highline Crossing Cohousing in this position, but here I/we sit: 18 months after we signed a contract with Sopris and forked over about 25k for a deposit for a two-array 19.6 kW system spread across the roof of our Community Center and one of the garage blocks in our community, we are still not online with our system!

Un-f——believable!

We did do our research on Sopris and we had other solar installers come in and offer bids (although two dropped out because our community took so long to approve solar here, about one year, actually). Up to the time that we signed our contract with Sopris in May 2019, they had very good reviews on multiple sites online.

As you can see by the reviews on SolarReview.Com, there are no pros with going with Sopris Solar. I can say that I personally agree with this assessment.

Sopris also had a very good salesperson and, frankly, he is the main reason we went with Sopris. I would NOT recommend to other residential solar customers to rely on a solar installer salesperson as the primary reason one goes with a solar installer: He left the company one month after we signed the contract. This, after we had worked with him — and he had worked very hard with us — on getting our neighbors and community to vote to put solar on our Community Center and garages.

Tom B’s leaving the company, obviously, was a very bad sign. Things rapidly got worse.

Sopris got into a legal battle with a sub-contracting hiring firm called Lone Star and soon the bad, very bad!, reviews of Sopris began piling up online. Sopris lost its A+ status with the BBB and, in fact, had its account suspended entirely for a long period of time due to the complaints that poured in.

These complaints — lots and lots and lots and lots of them — revolved around:

  1. Sopris allegedly not paying sub-contractors and liens, yes liens, being thrown onto homeowners homes!, homewoners who only wanted to do the right thing by going solar!
  2. Sopris not moving at all on installing homeowners’ systems with homeowners waiting months and months and months and, yes, years, before Sopris got going on the installations.
  3. Many complaints revolved around huge problems with getting systems online after Sopris had FINALLY installed them due to problems with Xcel Energy and permissions to put a system online.

Well, we have had two of those problems here at Highline Crossing Cohousing, and are very fortunate not to have had the first problem of liens being placed on our property by angry sub-contractors, though my thoughts go out to those poor Sopris customers who found themselves in this position:

  1. Sopris did not even start our installation until June 2020, more than a year after we signed a contract with them! A totally UNACCEPTABLE time frame!
  2. And now, even though we have the systems up on our roofs, we are mired in bureaucratic hell because Sopris, in its full INCOMPETENCE, failed to submit the proper type of proposals to Xcel for our systems. Sopris now says that Xcel screwed up, and it is ultimately unclear who is at fault, but the end outcome is that we have sat for more than 8 weeks with a solar system that went up more than a year later than it should have that is still not online with our utility!

Solar panels being installed by a Sopris Solar worker on the Highline Crossing Cohoushing Community Center in mid-July 2020, more than one year after HCC signed a contract for the installation! [Photo by Christof Demont-Heinrich]

It is all — and I know I am repeating myself here — f—— unbelievable!

I am SOOO angry, and at the same time, so embarrassed and ashamed that we ended up with one of the worst solar installers in the United States. This has soured the attitude of many of our HCC residents toward solar, which, again, is exactly the opposite of what I wanted to happen.

Going solar should be a joyous experience, one that makes you happy that you are doing the right environmental thing and economic thing!  With competent and reputable solar installers who know what they are doing and actually care about their customers, this is exactly the experience that so many people who go solar have.

I know: In 2010 I and my now ex-wife went solar with a 5.55 kW system on our Aurora, Colo. home rooftop with REC Solar. The entire process went seamlessly and happened on time: Our system was up and running and online with Xcel Energy within 90 days of us signing the contract with REC Solar. Sadly, they only do large commercial installations now, so I could not bring them in for a bid on our system here at Highline Crossing.

That is what going solar should be like. NOT the endless delays, lack of communication, lack of attention to customer care and the lack of competence that we have experienced with Sopris Solar — though I will say that I don’t want to place the two actual solar installers who did the installation that camp: they worked hard! — just the CEO of Sopris Solar, Nathan Billmaier, who has not handled our installation well at all, given that we are 18 months out from signing the contract and still not online with our solar.

Two of the dozens and dozens of angry customers who have suffered as a result of Sopris Solar’s incompetence let their views be known on this review board.

And I so wish I did not have to say this, or that we at Highline Crossing Cohousing were not caught up in what we have been caught up in: A stressful, poor, aggravating experience with going solar that has turned us off to going solar and dragged out across more than 18 months and it is still being dragged out!

This is just plain wrong — and I am writing this, not so much to lash out at Sopris, although, frankly, I am royally pissed off at this point, but more so that you, other potential future Sopris customers, do NOT choose Sopris Solar as your installer and so that you, and hopefully anyone else who reads this blog entry, is spared the horrible experience we have had with Sopris Solar here at Highline Crossing Cohousing.

DO NOT CHOOSE SOPRIS SOLAR AS YOUR SOLAR INSTALLER, you are very likely to regret it!

Instead, I would strongly recommend NOT going with a small, relatively un-established solar company (Sopris is in its 7th year and is tiny and has only two solar installers as its dedicated team). Instead go with a bigger, more established solar company that has been around and going strong for at least 10+ years and which has done far more installations than Sopris has. Finally, CALL previous customers and actually talk to them, especially about how long it took from the time they signed a contract until their solar system was actually online with their local utility.

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