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Power problem: Couple's solar panels don't produce the savings as promised

The goal was to reduce their power bill by about $115 a month. Once the solar panels went up, the savings were only about $65. Calls to the company didn't help.

ASHEBORO, N.C. — Picking a city where you want to retire isn't always easy. Once you find a city, you need to find a home. Coy and Kathleen Benningfield know how all that feels as they decided a beautiful ranch-style house in Asheboro would be their retirement home.

“We love the area and the home,” Coy Benningfield said.

As with most new homes, the couple made a few changes and will possibly do a few more in the future. What else the Benningfields decide to do will most likely be not as expensive as their latest upgrade. The couple had solar panels installed on the roof at a cost of about $40,000.

“My wife always wanted solar power. I guess you can say she is one of those green people,” Coy said. 

The system was installed two years ago with solar panels mounted to the roof. A few months after the system was up and running, Coy started to notice his electric bills were much lower but nowhere near what he was told they would be. Told his bills would be cut by about 90%, he was not seeing anywhere close to that.

“I’m not getting 50% power - maybe closer to 40%,” Coy said.

The couple reached out to the solar power company with mixed results. After several months, a representative came to the house and discovered the panels were not producing the amount of energy expected. They asked the couple to start charting their bills and provide them to the company after a year.

“I keep calling, no response, call, no response, email, no response,” Coy said.

A short time later, Coy reached out to us at WFMY News 2. We investigated his claims and reviewed the electric bills. We then contacted the solar power company. The company agreed to conduct a more thorough investigation and see if anything could be done.

It took a couple of months, but eventually, the solar company agreed to install 12 new panels on the roof to boost the amount of energy produced.

“As soon as (News 2) got involved, they started talking to me,” Benningfield said.

The new panels have significantly improved the amount of energy being produced. Benningfield estimates he’s getting about 80% of his power from the panels.

“If not for News 2, I would be getting no results whatsoever,” Benningfield said.

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