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BP losing battle with renewables

In addition to its struggles with the oil industry in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon, it turns out that BP has difficulty producing safe, effective green energy.

According to Tom Vacar for KTVU News, customers in California are complaining about BP’s solar panels. The oil giant produced solar panels for about 30 years up until 2011, but each system came with a 25-year warranty. At $30,000 to $50,000 per system, one would expect that warranty to stand firm. But customers are saying that’s not the case.

Many customers purchased the solar panels because they were made in the U.S. and would minimize or do away with electric bills while simultaneously needing minimal maintenance. However, some panels started to burn and shatter long before the warranty had expired. Jeff Owens for Owens Electric and Solar told KTVU, “We’ve got a lot of junction box fires and shattering of panels and a lot of warranty issues.” Some situations have gotten so dangerous as to cause fires on the roofs of owners’ homes or create grass fires that burn acres of crops.

The defect appears to stem from the junction box that is attached to each solar panel, which then causes overheating. The heat melts the junction box, burning the cables and the solar panel. The glass cover then shatters.

These BP panels frequently fail at solar generating and panel testing stations. Failing systems are leaving customers without the solar power they counted on, instead creating more expenses than savings. BP’s warranty, as it turns out, “does not cover any labor costs for the installation, removal, reinstallation or shipping of panels and parts,” according to Vacar. The warranty only covers the actual cost of the physical system.

A class action lawsuit has been filed against BP by Michael Allagas, Arthur Ray, and Brett Mohrman, all customers who received defective systems. According to Class Action News, the suit pushes the idea that BP was aware of the flaw in the junction boxes. The suit also accuses BP of offering insufficient compensation to its customers for a faulty product.

BP denies any systemic problem with its product. And because BP no longer produces solar panels, it’s replacing its defective solar panels with ones from completely different companies, which also tend to fail customers.

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