Home insulation scheme halted, AG Cooper says
Release date: 8/1/2014
Greensboro company didn’t deliver promised 25 % energy savings to NC seniors
Raleigh: A Greensboro company that didn’t live up to claims it would save consumers 25 percent on their energy bills is now out of the home insulation business, Attorney General Roy Cooper said today.
“Many consumers struggle to pay their power bills and claims that you’ll save 25 percent or more can sound very tempting,” Cooper said. “Our office is here to help when the reality doesn’t match the promise.”
At Cooper’s request, Wake County Superior Court Judge Lucy Inman signed a temporary restraining order barring Carolina Energy Green Solutions and its owner William Berkelhammer and manager Michael Stapleton from offering or performing home insulation work in North Carolina. Cooper is also seeking a permanent ban against the defendants, refunds for consumers and civil penalties to the state.
The order also bars the individual defendants, Berkelhammer of Guilford County and Stapleton of Mecklenburg County, from operating any new insulation companies in North Carolina. Cooper’s office is investigating the possibility that Stapleton has opened a new company doing similar work around Charlotte.
The company often targeted seniors, Cooper contends, as outlined in examples listed in the complaint filed with the court:
An 83-year old Nash County man says Carolina Energy Green Solutions promised that he would save 30 percent on his electricity bill if he allowed the company to install its insulation in his home and claimed to be affiliated with his power company. The homeowner agreed to pay $5,600 and financed the project through Carolina Energy Green Solutions’ finance company. He has not seen a reduction in electricity usage or costs.
A 72-year-old consumer from Davidson County paid $4,878 to have Carolina Energy Green install attic insulation that he was told was the same material used to make astronaut suits. He has yet to see anywhere near the $500 per year savings he was promised on his heating bills.
A 77-year-old woman in Durham County paid $3,100 to have the company install compact
fluorescent light bulbs, a water heater blanket, outlet insulators, an energy-saving showerhead, attic insulation, and weather stripping after being told the company was affiliated with the Jimmy Carter Foundation and a member of the Better Business Bureau. To date, she hasn’t saved the 25 percent on her energy bills that she was led to expect.
According to Cooper’s complaint filed with the court last week, Carolina Energy Green Solutions called consumers and offered to perform a free survey of the insulation in their homes. Consumers who agreed to the survey had a Carolina Energy Green Solutions representative walk through their homes and point out supposed leaks that would benefit from the company’s products.
As the complaint describes, the representative would then offer to install Carolina Energy Green Solution’s products, typically promising savings of 25 percent on their gas, oil or electric bills. Once consumers agreed to the installation, they were given the option of financing the cost—usually $3,000 or more—or paying it in full upfront.
Consumers who complained to Cooper’s office say the installation crews arrived the next morning, sometimes before daybreak, to install things like foam reflective material, water heater blankets and outlet and pipe insulators. After months without little or no reduction in their power bills, consumers complained to the company and asked for refunds but got nowhere.
Since 2012, 18 consumers have complained to Cooper’s Consumer Protection Division about Carolina Energy Green Solutions. Cooper’s office believes many more consumers have done business with the company but are still hoping to see a saving on their bills and have not yet come forward.
“Be skeptical whenever someone promises that paying them a lot of money now can somehow help you save money in the future,” Cooper said. “If you’ve done business with this or a similar company, don’t keep waiting for the promised savings to materialize. Instead contact our office and file a complaint.”
Consumers can file complaints online at www.ncdoj.gov
or by calling 1-877-5-NO-SCAM toll-free in North Carolina.
Media Contact: Noelle Talley, (919) 716-6413