Walmart suing Tesla

Here’s a link to the suit.

Notable excerpts:

This is a breach of contract action arising from years of gross negligence and failure to live up to industry standards by Tesla with respect to solar panels that Tesla designed, installed, and promised to operate and maintain safely on the roofs of hundreds of Walmart stores.

Why were multiple Walmart stores located all over the country suddenly catching fire? The answer was obvious and startling: the stores all had Tesla solar panels installed by Tesla on their roofs. At each location, the fire had originated in the Tesla solar panels.

By May 2018, it was clear that Tesla had breached its contractual obligations. To state the obvious, properly designed, installed, inspected, and maintained solar systems do not spontaneously combust, and the occurrence of multiple fires involving Tesla’s solar systems is but one unmistakable sign of negligence by Tesla. To this day, Tesla has not provided Walmart with the complete set of final “root cause” analyses needed to identify the precise defects in its systems that caused all of the fires described above. The number of defects, however, is overwhelming and plainly indicative of systemic, widespread failures by Tesla to meet the standard of care, as set forth in the governing contracts, as to the solar systems installed at Walmart’s stores.

Unfortunately, even de-energization was not enough to prevent an additional fire. In November 2018, Walmart discovered that yet another fire had occurred at a Walmart store in Yuba City, California-even though the solar panels at this store had been de-energized since June 2018. Wires on the store’s rooftop were still sparking at the time that Walmart discovered the fire and could have ignited more extensive flames, with potentially devastating consequences. Equally troubling, after Tesla technicians visited the rooftop, one of the technicians failed to close the cover to a combiner box, exposing this important piece of equipment to the elements and thereby creating a fire hazard. Still more troubling, Walmart subsequently learned (independent of Tesla) that a potentially dangerous ground fault alert had occurred at the Yuba City site during the summer of 2018. Tesla either ignored the alert or deliberately failed to disclose it to Walmart. The issues that caused that ground fault alert likely caused or contributed to the subsequent fire in the fall of 2018, revealing Tesla’s utter  incompetence or callousness, or both.

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102 thoughts on “Walmart suing Tesla

  1. I recently heard a news item regarding Tesla having homeowners able to rent its solar panels. How extensive is the residential market for Tesla panels? Are there instances of house fires sparked the same way? There is even greater liability there because of increased risk of death in a residential setting.

    • Yes! The monthly rent is US$50, but US$68 in CA for some reason. Seems reasonable until you see the finer detail. You can stop the rent of the panels at any time but you have to pay a US$1500 dismantling fee.

    • on zerohedge they mention the push to consumers as sales are waaay down
      fine print?
      YOU pay 1,500 if you want to remove them!

    • The original name of this Tesla division was Solar City, which was founded and mostly owned by a pair Elon Musk’s family members. Musk himself owned about 20% of the shares in Solar City.
      Their business model was widely panned, with an elaborate contract that was said to be backloaded with cost for the customer, and all sorts of rules that had the effect of limiting the rights of a customer to their own property.
      They were never licensed in many states.
      Apparently they have gone from installing as much as 200 megawatts of panels to something like 29 in the most recent quarter, IIRC.
      What they did have at one time was a great sales pitch, apparently, and a base of people who were highly convincible (gullible?) to virtue signal by getting these panels.
      Walmart is seeking not only damages but to force Tesla to remove all panels from all 240 stores that have them, and also said, among other things:

      “Walmart claimed, among myriad complaints, that “Tesla routinely deployed individuals to inspect the solar systems who lacked basic solar training and knowledge.” In the suit, they also alleged that Tesla failed to ground its solar and electrical systems properly, and that Tesla-installed solar panels on-site at Walmart stores contained a high number of defects that were visible to the naked eye, and which Tesla should have found and repaired before they led to fires.”

      Also:
      “Tesla has been trying to revive its solar business of late.
      On Sunday, CEO Elon Musk announced in a string of tweets that customers in some states can now rent Tesla’s residential, solar rooftop systems without a contract. The offer is available in six states, and will cost customers at least $50 a month (or $65 a month in California).

      Although Musk touted the ease of cancelling a rented roof at anytime, the fine print on Tesla’s website mentions a $1,500 fee to take out the solar panels and restore the customer’s roof.
      In the second quarter of 2019, Tesla installed a mere 29 megawatts of solar, a record low for the company in a single quarter. In its heyday, Tesla’s solar division (formerly SolarCity) installed over 200 megawatts in a single quarter.”
      When Tesla acquired SolarCity in 2016 for around $2.6 billion the deal caused controversy that continues to this day.
      SolarCity was founded and run by Musk’s first cousins, Peter and Lyndon Rive. Prior to Tesla’s acquisition, Musk owned about one-fifth of SolarCity stock, which was valued around $575 million at the end of 2015. While SolarCity had been a successful solar installer in the prior decade, its stock was plummeting, and debt had ballooned to $3.4 billion before the deal closed.
      In an investor presentation meant to drum up support for the acquisition, Musk showed off what appeared to be sleek, glass solar roof tiles. Rather than bulky panels, they looked like premium shingles. The solar roof tiles are still not widely distributed or mass-manufactured.”

      https://www.cnbc.com/2019/08/20/walmart-sues-tesla-over-solar-panel-fires-at-seven-stores.html

      Visible defects too numerous to list.
      Poorly installed and complete lack of promised maintenance.
      Incompetent, poorly trained technicians dispatched to large retail store installations…
      Holy crap…PR nightmare, which it sounds like they earned for themselves.
      And the acquisition reeks of nepotism and outright fraud.
      Tesla paid 2.5 billion for a company whose stock was only valued at $575 million, and that was $3.5 billion in debt by the time the deal closed?
      Sounds like someone sucked a lot of money out of somewhere and threw it in the basket Tesla was buying.
      I suspect Musk bought it to prevent an embarrassing bankruptcy that might have spilled over into loss of confidence in Tesla stock, but that is a guess.
      I had thought at the time that Musk was a or the founder.
      But it was two cousins.
      One thing is for sure…Musk knows well how to play the gubmint subsidy card and leverage it into personal fortunes time and again.
      As a 20% stockholder, Musk got $500 million for stock that sounds like it was actually worth somewhere between $120 million and a big fat goose egg.
      Incredible.
      That is great work if you can get it.

        • All of this goes a long way towards explaining how it is they were never able to procure proper licenses and authorizations in many states, and are now a greatly diminished business, even as by all appearances wokeness has increased to record levels, and panels are cheaper than ever.
          They took too many shortcuts in an area in which shortcuts are a bad idea.

    • How long before home and business insurance rates go up if you have solar panels?

      Then how long before AOC et al legislate no solar panel charge for insurance?

      • I am skeptical that the federal government has authority over such matters, which are regulated by the individual states.
        I think most homeowner policies specifically exclude panels from coverage.
        I doubt they would cover roof damage due to them being installed there either.
        Although for the right amount of money I would hazard a guess that someone will insure them.

        • They could try to leverage the interstate commerce clause to get their nose in the tent. The big insurers all work interstate.

  2. Wind and solar are junk. Give it up. Natural Gas now along with an incremental gradual incorporation of small scale nuclear as it becomes available. End subsidies, mandates and grid priority for wind and solar to stop the infection caused by this grid poison that only adds cost to electricity. An unworkable and expensive solution to the non-existent CO2 “crisis”.

      • Malcom,
        Thanks, glad you liked my “energy plan”. Scares me when I see our young people worried about 4 ppm CO2/yr increase and not at all concerned about $1 trillion/yr increase in the National Debt.

    • Who decided that using weather dependent energy was the way to control the weather?

      Who in fact decided that wind and solar were the best way to achieve anything beyond creating a new rent seeking class? They really do p*ss in our faces and tell us it’s raining.

    • Solar has its place, as does wind. We use both at an off grid remote cabin to pump groundwater unto an above ground reservoir. It’s a great use for that, as it’s effectively pumped storage, but the storage medium itself is the consumed item. Probably wouldn’t be enough if we were there full time, but much more convenient than having to run the generator and wait an hour before we have water every time we head up. Instead we have water available immediately, and can even generate excess electricity from the water (though that was more of a “fun” project rather than really useful power, as it drops the water pressure too much to be usable while drawing water).

      • Robert,
        You hit the nail on the head.
        Wind and solar are great, but at a private owner level, not an industrial level. I am off grid full time, and rely on my wind and solar for my day-to-day activities, but I do back it up with a gasoline generator, as one would be foolish not to. Getting power pulled in to my remote location would be prohibitively expensive ($20.000-$30,000) and then the local electrical co-op will charge me $80/mo BEFORE I use 1 watt of power.
        I can buy quite an expansive array of solar oanels and batteries for that kind of money, and not have to put out any more until I am replacing batteries in 10 years.
        But for grid-scale? An absolutely ludicrous proposition that is most often promoted by charlatans looking to line their own pockets at someone else’s expense.

  3. I have seen images of the fire damage, unsure if genuine, if they were it is serious. Massive solar arrays hooked up in series? Not good in DC, lots of arcing potential and thus fire potential too. This is a serious problem and I am sure will be swept under the carpet in major MSM outlets.

    7 Walmart stores out of 250 or so, their solar installation erupted in fire! Walmart has tuned off the rest and will have the systems removed.

    After a Tesla S burst in to flames in Hong Kong recently, Tesla forced a download of an upgrade to battery software reducing the performance of the battery WITHOUT telling owners. A class action suit is being brought against Tesla about that.

    Happy happy joy joy!

    • ‘7 Walmart stores out of 250…’

      According to my calculations, there is a 97.2% consensus among Walmart stores that these solar installations are perfectly safe. The defense rests.

      • “7 installations out of 240 installations have caused fires”
        So far!
        Is 7 poison jelly beans out of a jar of 240 of them a lot?
        Oh, I mean 7 are known to be poison, so far.
        Would you eat one?

      • Our betters.
        What is that squawking from the bleacher seats now?
        Good Lord, think about the children.
        The Children!
        They are, after all, the most likely to die in a housefire, not to mention the ones saddled with the bill for all of this deficit spending.
        But AOC tells me we can “just pay for it”, since we own the printing presses.

        The only thing better than when Trump wins the election in November 2020, is if and when The Squad is also voted out, in whole or in part. I view it as increasingly likely AOC will be a one term congressperson from a district with historically awful turnout, but that for some reason spikes way upwards in 2020.

          • Throw a blanket over one panel in the series chain.

            Unless the combined open collector voltage is more than the maximum voltage of the shaded panel. Then that panel will burn out and catch fire. (surely, they haven’t been /that/ stupid)

          • Userbrain: To answer your question, we must keep in mind the actual source of renewable energy- unicorn gas. To de-energize, one would simply re-insert the gas. In the unicorn. Watch out for that horn!!

          • I think fire departments have some sort of rollup magnetic covering that they deploy when they come across panels on a roof where they are working a fire.

          • Is a tricky issue for fire departments , systems are different. Some standard single string DC, some have mutiple arrays, some dont have DC wiring at all and convert to AC at the panel. No simple answer.

          • “My concern is how do you de-energize a solar panel during the day when it is on fire?”

            Wait a while.

      • That does not pass the “out of abundance of caution” test in NY or anywhere else when fire safety is involved.

    • The fires of Tesla cars have looked very scary…intensely hot, very fast, coming instantly after a crash in many if not all cases…
      Like a fire explosion.
      So you are dazed and confused and then the frickin thing is ablaze all around you.
      I have seen lots of car fires, and several right up close…but none of them happened after accidents.
      I have never seen a car accident in which a car caught fire, and I have seen a lot of them. Been a passenger for a bunch, and a driver once (not my fault, no ticket).
      Gas is flammable, but not all that easy to light.
      Most car fires do not involved gasoline until the fire is well underway, if at all.
      I am wondering about fires from those Powerwall dealios.
      Have to look that up.

      However and BTW…I think these fires had nothing to do with Tesla and it’s technology.
      Tesla bought Solar City after these panels were installed, or so it seems.

      It seems the bulk of this suit is to force Tesla/Solar City to pay for removing their panels, and to cancel the contracts, which IIRC are for 20 or 25 years. A long time.
      If the contracts are not cancelled, Walmart could be sued for removing them and disposing of them, or so it would seem.
      The way something like that is set up, I doubt very much a homeowner could become concerned, have them removed and just cancel, unilaterally, the contract.
      But if this suit goes forward and succeeds, it may open a floodgate by people who have found themselves to have overpaid for a crappy deal, and are remorseful.
      I would rate that chance as very likely.
      Good point about coverage of this story. It was a top of the page red chyron on CNBC.com last evening, but is now buried way down the site page.
      Have to check on that.
      This is the sort of story that should not be buried, involving a fire hazard of a widely installed product by a now troubled company.
      If it is not reported, that is very bad.

      • This is terrible PR for the company.

        I agree and it is ridiculous that a major company such a Solar City cannot determine what caused the fires and resolve the problems with component changes and/or maintenance procedure changes.

        The first fire in 2012 should have been the only problem the customer faced. This is a low tech problem not redesigning rockets.

        I worked for a while for a major US control company in sales and marketing, technical school, support of new products, product development, and so on, with, a role that included resolution of all technical customer issues.

        High performance companies have mandatory logging of all problems and procedures to ensure problems are prioritized and timely resolved for current and future customers.

        Resolving problems quickly and completely is standard for good high performance companies, to manage liability and maintain customer loyalty/reputation.

      • All I can say is I would never put 10 megawatts, or whatever the Tesla Power walls are rated at, inside or even close to the house. It would have to go into a separate structure at least 50 ft away.

        All lithium cells are an accident waiting to happen. Too much energy density in a “fragile” system- both chemically and mechanically.

    • Patrick—It’s on the Bing newsfeed with links to CBC, CNN, CNBC and many others. Guess they couldn’t hide this one.

  4. Ha! I ran across this on the Bing news crawler this morning and – Ta da! – here it is.

    Walmart has deep pockets and an army of lawyers to pursue this. Walmart seems to have a good facilities arm in the company that has ample documentation for their complaint.

    It may take a while, as legal matters are wont to do, but I think Tesla is going to get a spanking over this.

      • You betcha, Sheri.

        Gotta watch ’em like a hawk. Going through the Bing crawler is how I pick up on the narrative of the day. Bing’s news aggregator is not as nauseating as other feeds, yet I can still pick up on the daily talking points, so Bing it is.

        With that “Yes!” you sounded rather excited that someone ventures behind enemy lines to reconnoiter. How do you find out about the YSM** daily narrative?
        .
        .
        The most interesting part of that Tesla article is that it was even put out at all. It seems the bloom may be coming off the Tesla rose. Otherwise, it never would have been reported. The news you don’t see is often more important than the news you do see.

        **Yellow Stream Media aka Press Corpse aka jurinalists (Swedish pronunciation)

        • H.R. I don’t seem to find a lot of people who do check out the mainstream media. I check the Bing news feed, often check Yahoo and listen to talk radio (I look up many of the talking points). I cannot take the network news broadcasts, however. Being a good little skeptic, I have to check out the claims each side makes.

          • Have to agree with you on Bing Sheri; Bing is as deep as I’ll go into enemy territory. The networks are unwatchable and I won’t give any YSM online site the clicks.

            One thing I like about the Bing crawler is it does have some nice, unpoliticized stories sprinkled in and their image of the day is usually a first rate keeper and only occasionally pushes some PC message.

            Another thing is that they list enough sources with ledes that give you the YSM narrative of the day with enough detail that you don’t have to click the links.

    • It does typically take a long time for civil suits to wend through the system.
      But I wonder about the aspect of the fire hazard on the remaining stores.
      The last fire was after the darn thing was disconnected.
      Imagine what liability will become the next time, especially if it is a bad one or someone is hurt or killed, after warning is given and all.
      They may be best advised to settle and make this go away fast.

      • People don’t realize that when you pull the disconnect between the panels and your main electrical gear it doesn’t turn the panels “off”. They’re still hot and looking for a place to dump all the electrons they’re generating. Cleaning your gutters can become an exciting adventure depending on how the panels are arranged on your rood.

  5. I used to frequent them a lot, before they ‘woke’. A few years ago I made a choice. If there was an alternative store, I shopped there instead. I haven’t looked back since. Last I heard they only ever have about two cashiers on hand and they’re trying to Amazon Amazon.

    • Jim August 21, 2019 at 7:24 am
      I used to frequent them a lot, before they ‘woke’ . . .

      Maybe I’m living under a rock, but I never heard of the “woke” term up until a few weeks ago. Now I see it everyday.

      • It’s a term that strutting sneering self-important politically correct halfwits (aka “progressives”) invented to describe themselves.

  6. ElRon is too busy with his plan to nuke Mars to be bothered with manufacturing or maintaining a safe product.

    • And a fine plan it is!
      NEWSFLASH:
      Life on Mars found at polar region, now dead and extinct, after E Musk fired nuclear bombs at the planet to melt the polar ice to make the planet more inhabitable.
      Film at 11:00.

    • Sal Minella August 21, 2019 at 7:25 am
      Strange I just saw a guy who called himself “John Carter” and had this big green friend with too many arms.
      Anyway they wanted to have a word with Mr Musk and they did not look pleased.

      michael

  7. Solar is appropriate for “demand co-variant” uses, like air conditioning and lighting homes and buildings, in areas with good solar resource and if the utility has favorable interconnect and net metering policies.

    Unless a breakthrough in storage technology occurs, it will not be useful for base load, industrial, or transportation.

    Roughly 1/3 of world wide energy use is for heating and cooling building and homes, 1/3 is industrial, and 1/3 is transportation. So solar can currently address only a part of 1/3 of our energy needs, even if it had no other shortcomings.

    • The place where solar totally makes sense is where a utility feed is impossible or uneconomic. That includes parking ticket dispensers right in the middle of town.

      If you’re a few miles away from the closed electricity, a solar PV system may be an alternative to paying the utility to run a line. Of course, you will want to do everything possible to reduce your electricity use. One example would be a propane powered refrigerator.

      • Yes, commieBob, a propane refrigerator!! And go DC on everything you can to avoid using an inverter. Inverters consume a great deal of power. There are many, many ways to go DC due to all the RV’s out there. We do this at our cabin, but we generally cannot get people to go with the idea of DC.

        • Low voltage DC at that.
          Nearly everything that can be powered with 120v AC can be powered with low voltage DC, including motors, control circuits, etc.
          Using electric for heat makes no sense, thermodynamically speaking.
          I have been advocating for a nat gas version of the Rural Electrification Act of 1936.
          Mandate gas lines be installed so as to be available to every homeowner in the US.
          Apportion utility status for companies that step forward to participate in the installations.
          Save a bundle of money, more efficient, and all sorts of other benefits, like making existing electric infrastructure sufficient for an extended period of time, by diverting electric load to other energy sources.

          • I wouldn’t use anything less than 48 volts, and probably better 60 or 72 if you can find devices to work with those voltages. Below that, the conductor sizes you need to carry the current become fearsomely expensive and a pain to install. For things like AC and refrigerators, you still need the same power to do the same work. Drop the volts, increase the current.

          • Nicholas McGinley:
            “Mandate gas lines be installed so as to be available to every homeowner in the US.”

            Never going to let that happen. Natural gas lines leak. Aside from the negatives of methane itself (which can be as little as 85% of what is transmitted to you) leaking, there is no way to know what other compounds are pumped out of the ground and directly into the gas lines, as there is little to no purification in the process. Add in mercaptan, and you want to pump (leak) this around every home in the country?

            Large scale, centralized nuclear combined with high efficiency ground-sourced heat pumps sounds like a much more acceptable solution.

          • I am a proponent of nuclear, but at the present time there are a tiny few plants even being considered, and until something changes, that situations remains.
            New distribution lines can be built out in a short time, and no one is obligated to use gas in their home just because an area has pipelines and the option to contract service with a gas utility company.
            At the present time a lot of money and energy is being wasted when a more efficient way to heat, cook, make hot water, dry clothes can be offered.
            Nat gas is safe, and it is well understood how to ensure safety.
            New materials and technology make it safer then ever.
            Of course, any energy source is POTENTIALLY dangerous. Electricity can and does kill people. Heating oil can run out, and is very expensive by comparison, and the furnaces that burn it require annual maintenance.
            Gas is cleaner and cheaper and a pipeline beats having a tank of heating oil.

            I have never heard any such claim that 10% of all gas sent into a pipeline leaks out.
            This sounds doubtful, and besides has nothing to do with customers, since meters are installed at the point of service entrance.
            Leaks inside homes are extremely rare and unlikely to ever be experienced, and even if one does occur, they even more seldomly cause any problem.
            One reason for this the odorant, which is present in minute quantities and is also added to propane that a large number of people use, so that any leak can be quickly detected and pinpointed.
            Large parts of the US have had natural gas lines into every home for well over a century, and this includes all of the large cities in the northeast and Midwest US.
            In many places the original cast iron pipes are still in use, but these are of course being replaced in an ongoing upgrade cycle. New plastic lines have few joints because they come in long rolls. Keeping stuff inside of pipes is not a difficult or unusual thing…every home has water pipes that if they were to ever leak could do enormous damage.
            It happens but is no reason to waste money or lose sleep.
            Gas is already in wide usage, and plenty more have propane delivered by truck and stored in huge tanks, typically but not always above ground outside the building.
            In fact 177,000,000 people use natural gas in their homes in the US.
            Half the country.
            We are the Saudi Arabia of nat gas, and will have a lot of it at a low price for a very long time.
            Leaks are rare, and any problem caused by leaks even rarer.
            Properly constructed pipe systems do not leak, not even a little, under normal circumstances.
            So I am not sure where your concern and opposition comes from.
            Mishaps occur, but that is true of anything.
            Me, I grew up in a city with gas in every home, with lines under every street.
            No one that I ever knew was afraid of it, and I sure am not.
            I want it installed so that everyone can have the opportunity for this clean and efficient source of energy.

          • An industry website page that details how much less costly nat gas is than electricity and oil is linked below.
            The difference is stark and huge: Electric heat cost 3.5 times more on average, on a btu basis. For a typical home, this amounts to a savings of nearly $1400/year for home heating, and $240 to as much as $400 for hot water. These are life changing savings for many people, enough to pay for the full cost of new equipment in a year or so in many cases. Tax breaks likely make such improvements a net savings almost immediately for some people.
            Savings for a typical person might easily be in excess of $2000 per year. That is a lot of money, and comes with making the most out of our natural resources.

            If a day comes that electricity is the cheapest, whether due to nuclear or whatever, I would advocate for switching back…which can be easily done during product replacement cycles.
            Having more choices is a good idea even if it was not so obviously and incredibly much cheaper.

            https://www.aga.org/natural-gas/affordable/

          • BTW…when you say: “Never going to let that happen.”, who exactly are you suggesting has the ability to forever prevent such a buildout?
            New customers are connected every day, somewhere.
            What I am calling for is legislation to ensure that everyone can access our countries resources equally, as soon as possible.
            As was done with electric power and arguably has been a huge factor in the success and prosperity of the US.

          • Nicholas McGinley:
            I expressed a primary concern over gas leaks and the danger associated with pushing this into every neighborhood in the U.S.
            Your response(s), in summary:
            * Gas is cheap & abundant
            * Gas is currently in use
            * Gas should not leak / does not leak / you’ve never noticed a leak

            Keep those eyes (and nose) closed, it appears to be working for you.

        • When I was looking at off-grid power generation 20 or so years ago in New Zealand and I did about a years worth of research. I discovered that the utmost best system was a matched DC system that had no inverter. The systems were either 6v, 12, or 24v DC and all appliances would be voltage matched, 6v, 12v or 24v. Some of those devices at that time were horrendously expensive to obtain in NZ, a 12v fridge was NZ12,000 IIRC!

          I had a large property with a large roof and plenty of wind was available. Any system installed would need battery backup and at that time, the best batteries available new were 12v deep cycle batteries made in America. Then the whole system would need a small petrol/diesel backup generator for when there was no sun or wind. Luckily, the property did have bottled propane gas, 45kg bottles, for hot water and stove top cooking and a 28kw log burner for space heating. Even so, kitting out a system to go “off-grid”, with matched appliances, would have cost almost as much as the property and land themselves, so the idea was dropped.

          Interestingly enough, I also learned that if the property had a stream, I could install a 300mm diameter water turbine over a 2m drop and could power the whole property with an inverter and retain the AC appliances at a much much reduced price. Either idea turned out to be vastly too complex and expensive so I forgot about it and stayed connected to the grid. I eventually sold the property just before migrating to Australia.

  8. There was an old issue wrt roof-top installation of solar panels. If there is a fire, from any cause, how do you kill the power being generated by the solar cells? The firemen would have an awkward situation maneuvering around glass panels to begin with. Add live wires to the scenario, and you surely have safety concerns. How was that ever addressed?

    • It never was. To “turn off” the power produced by a solar panel you need to cover the panel to prevent light from reaching the cells. In general impossible for firefighters to do.

      They can isolate the power to the connected conductors but not much else.

      There are codes that address the location of panels and access to the roof that are often ignored or not fully complied with to allow more panels to be installed. As a fire inspector I never was able to approve a solar installation on the first visit. Spacing, ballast placement, electrical cable or conduit installation were all deficient on a regular basis, primarily due to lack of training of the installers, but also due to poor supervision or just plain laziness.

      Best is to build the crap in a field away from buildings, but there incorrect placement of ballast can cause issues when the wind gusts. The ballast is for skid type installations where no foundations are placed into the ground or direct mechanical attachments are used which is very common on roofs and in fields.

  9. Wal Mart has only itself to blame, for falling for the wind power scam in the first place. I thought they were smarter than that.

  10. Probably the busiest legal department of any company is located at Tesla.They have been sued
    for everything under the sun – spontaneous combustion of car batteries, Autopilot running into brick walls, parked fire trucks (twice!!) , concrete lane dividers, trucks turning in front of them, trucks sitting there, etc etc. Unions for anti union activities and actions against employees who were in favor of unions. Illegal Musk tweets about stock prices (SEC has a constant tap on Musk’s Twitter account).
    Libel lawsuit against Musk for remarks about a gay fellow.

    • Well, to be fair, everyone in the world was busy insulting on social media the heroic expert cave diver who against all odds and incredible technical challenges, volunteered to fly clear around the planet on his own dime and saved all those children from a positively horrifying fate in that cave in Thailand, right?
      Oh, wait…

  11. Well, when you have a rather bloated ego – and Musk is grandiose by any simple description – you tend to forget that the details are important, details such as how things really work, safety for the customer, producing a reliable product that performs as advertised and doesn’t threaten the customer’s health and welfare and property.

    It’s details like those that Musk forgot while he was preening at his desk.

  12. If the science can’t clean itself because of the green corruption in learned societies and noble corruption of the peer review and publishing process then, perhaps, the litigation lawyers may do it.

  13. For a barrel of laughs, read these two Seeking Alpha threads, the denizen of Tesla bears. (For more visit $TSLAQ on Twitter.)

    (Yesterday:) Tesla’s New Solar Rental Product Could Decimate Residential Solar Installers
    https://seekingalpha.com/article/4286957-teslas-new-solar-rental-product-decimate-residential-solar-installers

    (Today:) Walmart sues Tesla, claiming solar panels caused fires at its stores (329 comments)
    https://seekingalpha.com/news/3493443-walmart-sues-tesla-claiming-solar-panels-caused-fires-stores

    • . . . or was that just an announcement that there was a fire sale in isle 7 on virtue-signaling pants?

  14. I had SolarCity (now Tesla) PV panels installed on my home rooftop 5 years ago on a 20 year lease. On paper it was a very good deal for the the end user because SolarCity’s business model required that they provide a certain amount on electricity be generated and sold to the utility company. This really sucks if you are a utility company that is forced to buy electricity from SolarCity at ‘grandfathered’ rates. Of course, I personally benefitted from this setup, so who was I to complain.

    But a few years later the panels began to degrade under the Arizona sun with bus bars cracking (causing open circuit) and water seeping into the panels (causing short circuit). SolarCity procured the panels in China, which was a disastrous and costly mistake. They replaced the PV panels a couple months ago. All is well, for the moment. The quality issues with these panels may be why Tesla is now designing their own PV tiles.

    I imagine Walmart experienced similar issues but with a lot more power – hence the fires.

    • When you say busbar cracks, were these cracks in the rear surface of the panel (backsheet) behind the busbar? Do you recall which panel manufacturer? Seems to be a growing problem for certain materials selected by panel manufacturers.

  15. Under Section 15(b) of the federal Consumer Product Safety Act “Every manufacturer of a consumer product distributed in commerce, and every distributor and retailer of such product, who obtains information which reasonably supports the conclusion that such product – *** (2) contains a defect which could create a substantial product hazard as described in subsection (a)(2) shall immediately inform the Commission (Consumer Product Safety Commission) ***.”

    I wonder if Tesla has fulfilled their reporting obligation under the above quoted Section 15(b) of the Consumer Product Safety Act? I wonder if the Commission’s regulatory staff has investigated these seven fires or examined the solar panels and asked for a stop sale or for a product recall? The Consumer Product Safety Commission has broad powers to order stop sales and safety recalls for hazardous defective products.

    (Automobiles are not defined as consumer products under this law. Automobile safety is instead regulated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.)

  16. We are running out of places to hide from Tesla fires in stores, homes, on roads, and in parking garages.

  17. Just wondering when the bulk of this iceberg comes crashing into reality . . . you know, when the time comes for all those thousands of Solar City/Tesla home solar PV installations to start exhibiting similar breakdowns and evidence of shoddy installations (including PowerWall battery units that may have been placed inside the garages of homeowners . . . yikes).

    We can only hope that Solar City/Tesla employees or contractors paid much more attention to proper solar PV installations in residential buildings to absolutely minimize the chance of sparking fires.

    Sorry . . . gotta run right now to see if either of my neighboring homes have roof solar PV panels that were sold and installed by Solar City/Tesla . . . 🙁

      • “Here’s a guy building an American car in America using American labor and paying them a union wage – the whole bit. Why are you not rooting for it to be successful? I don’t quite understand that.”
        – Jay Leno

      • How many Teslas have self-ignited? Has there been a recall? I heard of the one in China self-igniting, but I also have NO trust of any reports from China, because there is no way to know what modifications or hacks they had made to the vehicle hardware or software.

        We should not forget over 40 BMWs did self-ignite, promptly a million-vehicle recall. And aren’t high-end manufacturers (Ferrari, Lamborghini, etc.) notorious for self-immolation of their cars?
        https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/04/business/bmw-recall-fire.html

        • For your information “thermal runaways” are an apparently inevitable drawback of li-ion batteries. They are normally very rare, yes, but there is a lot of cells in each Tesla. And if a battery is physically damaged, for example in a car crash, they are not at all rare.

          Personally I never leave a charging li-ion battery unattended and always puts it on something fireproof while charging. But then I’ve worked a lot with airworthiness and flight safety, including how to handle li-ion batteries so I’m prejudiced.

          By the way a “thermal runaway” is a very nasty kind of fire, unpredictable as to speed and development, very hot, very very hard to put out, can flare up again after up to 48 hours and produces highly toxic smoke

          • I appreciate the feedback. I, too, am somewhat familiar with the potentially catastrophic risks associated with Li-ion batteries, particularly with unattended aircraft as well as RVs, to a lesser extent, as a curiosity.
            But what I see are risks and potential catastrophes, not reported cases. These were cars for the rich, but now there are many thousands in middle cass homes across the U.S. at least; surely a Model 3 owner would have reported their garage burning down by now? Yet the stigma remains of a “self-igniting” car in one’s garage.

  18. Lest we forget: California passed a law at the end of CY2018 that requires, effective beginning of CY2020, solar panels to be a installed on all essentially all newly-built residences in California (there are a few limited exceptions).

    Single-family homes and multi-family buildings that are up to three stories high must conform to the new solar installation requirement. In 2018, the State predicted that mandatory solar panel installations and other new improvements will add nearly $10,000 in the upfront cost of a single-family home.

    Source for above: https://www.npr.org/2018/12/06/674075032/california-gives-final-ok-to-requiring-solar-panels-on-new-houses

    Of course, the State did not consider the failure rate of such solar PV installations (did I hear someone mention lowest-bid PV panel sellers and installers?), nor the extra cost of obtaining fire and liability insurance coverage for such installations . . . presuming, of course, that such will be available at ANY cost. Figures.

    Nota Bene: to the best of my knowledge, there is no law precluding the immediately removal of solar PV installations as soon as a residence is purchased by a buyer . . . this may turn out to be the lowest cost option for many over the expected time of ownership of any such mandated-PV-paneled residence.

    • Does the law require that the panels be new? I see a real business opportunity in the solar panel rental/lease business.

    • “to the best of my knowledge, there is no law precluding the immediately removal of solar PV installations as soon as a residence is purchased by a buyer”

      Like mandated piddling rainwater tanks and pumps to feed toilet cisterns and in South Australia (500mm average rainfall in Adelaide collected in around 80 days of rainfall). When the son wanted to add a carport to a 6 year old home and it was in the way for parking he sold it quick smart to another renovator that didn’t have one in order for them to get their reno Approvals. No probs when he sold up and moved a couple of year’s later as everybody knows they’ll likely chew more power than any water bill savings. These Green idiots can’t even pronounce tradeoff let alone spell it.

  19. I remember this happening at the local Wal-Mart. I found it odd that the local paper never mentioned Solar City or Tesla.
    I am curious whether the installers, etc. are actually Tesla employees, or if they are contractors. I know the article speaks of Tesla employees installing / inspecting / repairing, but wearing a Tesla logo does not make you an employee. The reason for the curiosity is whether this is a Tesla (Solar City) employee base systemic problem (as implied by the lawsuit) or whether this represents a larger problem with multiple local 3rd party solar contractors’ training and knowledge.

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