Solar-panel company faces lawsuits, investigations

After eight years of installing solar panels on homes in San Mateo County, Bay Solar Power Design is facing a storm of lawsuits and investigations for allegedly cheating customers and business partners out of their money.

The company, based out of Pacifica until last November, when it relocated to Fairfield, is being investigated by the District Attorney’s Office, the Contractor State License Board and the Better Business Bureau. The investigations, authorities said, were prompted by a stream of complaints from former customers who claimed they paid for solar panels and never received them.

Nine former clients of Bay Solar have complained that panels were never installed on their homes since 2000, according to the Better Business Bureau.

Bay Solar and its owner, John Bannen, are names in about a dozen separate lawsuits by customers, suppliers and contractors. Since the company’s termination in March, Bannen and his family have moved out of Pacifica to an unlisted address in Lafayette and the lawsuits have not been served, according to San Mateo County Superior Court records. Bannen and his wife, Lynne, did not answer calls for comment Tuesday.

Attorney Scott Hennigh — who is representing Redwood City resident Dirk Pranke in one of the lawsuits — said the company cashed his client’s $20,000 check in October but never installed the panels.

“My client’s concern is not so much the money, but the principle of the issue to make sure that other people who have had their money taken from them can get their money back,” Hennigh said.

Pacifica resident Rus Allen said Tuesday that he decided to buy panels from Bay Solar last summer after reading that the company was going to open offices in Africa and Mexico. Allen is considering a lawsuit against the company.

“I never got a nagging feeling of him being a crook,” said Allen, who also never received his panels.

Bay Solar’s former employees said the company went down because of bad business decisions, not intentional fraud.

“I don’t think he did anything deceitful,” said Robin Alexander, who served as director of sales for several months before the company’s demise. “The company got hit with a credit crunch. The residential market is gone. It’s just a cause of the times.”

Two other employees said Bannen was counting on a multicompany merger to pull him out of financial troubles, but when the merger didn’t come through, he closed shop and skipped town.

svasilyuk@examiner.com

Bay Area NewsLocal

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer, a former school board member, said Thursday it was ‘ridiculous’ that the school district did not yet have a plan to reopen. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Supervisors demand SFUSD set a timeline for reopening

Pressure grows on district to resume in-person learning as The City’s COVID-19 case count goes down

The San Francisco International Arts Festival will present performances this weekend outdoors at Fort Mason, including on the Parade Ground, Eucalyptus Grove and Black Point Battery. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SF International Arts Festival wins health department approval for weekend performances

Rules allow no more than 50 people at outdoor Fort Mason performances

A lab worker from the Medical Examiner’s Office was arrested with an evidence bag of methamphetamine in August. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Audit over lab worker meth arrest finds medical examiner is missing drugs

An audit of the Medical Examiner’s Office prompted by the arrest of… Continue reading

City officials argue that the dominance of a few third-party delivery services gives them disproportionate leverage against restaurants. (Courtesy photo)
Cap on food delivery app fees may remain until indoor dining allowed at full capacity

Proposal seen as financial relief for restaurants struggling in pandemic

Most Read