Petersen-Dean goes bankrupt: what this means for consumers

One of the largest solar installers in the country went out of business in 2020, leaving some customers in limbo. Here's the latest situation and some tips for current Petersen-Dean customers.

Petersen-Dean logo

Petersen-Dean, a roofing and solar company founded in 1984 that operated in nine states, went bankrupt in 2020, leaving many of its customers in limbo.

The company operated in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Louisiana, Nevada, Oklahoma and Texas. They started as a roofing company, then began offering solar installations, especially in California where solar installations are required on some new homes.

While the COVID pandemic was perhaps the straw to break its back, the company was apparently in poor financial health for some time. According to an article in RoofingContractor.com, the long delay between the start of a project and the project’s completion - when it could finally collect payment - caused serious cash flow problems for the company.

Plus, like other large companies in the solar industry, they may have grown too big too quickly, making it difficult for them to create a sustainable and profitable business. At one point, Petersen-Dean was installing 2,000 solar and roof systems a month across the nation.

Petersen-Dean was a very large company, and it included several affiliated brands and companies that are all part of the chapter 11 reorganization. These include:

  • Beachhead Roofing and Supply, Inc.
  • California Equipment Leasing Association, Inc. *Affects
  • Fences 4 America, Inc.
  • James Petersen Industries, Inc.
  • PD Solar, Inc.
  • Petersen Roofing and Solar LLC
  • Petersen-Dean, Inc.
  • PetersenDean Hawaii LLC
  • PetersenDean Roofing and Solar Systems, Inc.
  • PetersenDean Texas, Inc.
  • Red Rose, Inc.
  • Roofs 4 America, Inc.
  • Solar 4 America, Inc.
  • Sonoma Roofing Services, Inc.
  • TD Venture Fund, LLC
  • Tri-Valley Supply, Inc.

Solarjuice American buys Petersen-Dean’s assets

On January 21, 2021, Solarjuice American, Inc announced that it would purchase the assets of Petersen-Dean, including the contracts they had outstanding but never completed. This means that Petersen-Dean will continue in some form, including theoretically completing customer projects in limbo and providing warranty service to past customers.

Did Petersen-Dean bankruptcy offer leases or power purchase agreements?

Petersen-Dean differed from many other large national solar installers because they didn’t offer financing with leases or power purchase agreements. With these agreements, the homeowner doesn’t own the system - the solar installer does. Solar customers with this type of financing have a much more complicated situation if their company goes out of business.

Fortunately, this doesn’t apply to Petersen-Dean, which offered traditional loans but not leases. That makes their bankruptcy situation less impactful for consumers.

Bankruptcy has left many customers waiting for their installation

One of the biggest reported problems is customers who have contracted for an installation with Petersen-Dean and paid a deposit, taken out a loan, or even prepaid for their project in full, but are still waiting for the installation to happen.

A common complaint is that with the bankruptcy, basically nobody is picking up the phone. You can find numerous reports of this in the comments on this article at Solarpowerworldonline.com, such as this one by the user Natan Saad-Lipshitz:

After selecting Petersen-Dean to install our solar system in late 2019, and 2 weeks away from starting the installation everything stopped. We paid in advance over 85% of the total contract and it is now over 15 months with no idea if we will ever recover our money or get solar panels installed.

You can find numerous similar complaints at the Better Business Bureau:

Petersen/Dean was supposed to finish our solar project in August 2019 and still has not finished the project. They have refused to take our calls and respond to emails or texts for several months now. Then a couple weeks ago when they responded to us telling us they were in bankruptcy and would no longer talk to us. We have paid them over $32,000 and are no closer to completion then we were at the start.

Here’s another example:

In January of 2020 we contracted with Petersen Dean to do a reroof for us which they did the week of February 3 2020. We financed the job thru Greensky which paid Petersen Dean IN FULL in two payments on 2/5 and 2/13/2020. On April 2, 2020 we received a preliminary notice of a lien from the sub contractor Honeycutt Companies who did the demo for $2,600. As of August 4 2020 Petersen Dean has still not paid them and Honeycutt is now informing us they intend to file a lien on our property for payment. I have contacted Petersen Dean back in April and have never received a response from them. Now they do not even answer the phone and I understand that they are in bankruptcy.

It’s worth noting that the BBB.org page for Petersen-Dean has this red alert at the top of the page:

Based on BBB files this company has a pattern of complaints. Consumers state there are delays in project start dates, project completion dates and repairs. Consumers also state there are delays in receiving refunds and that there are long wait times for responses to calls and emails, and in some cases request to speak to supervisors go unanswered.

Obviously, paying tens of thousands of dollars for a project and possibly getting nothing in return is a huge problem. Unfortunately, bankruptcy means that the creditors, including customers waiting for their installation, might never get fully compensated.

Solarjuice American should complete these outstanding installations

According to the press release linked above, Solarjuice American should begin completing any in-progress contracts with Petersen-Dean’s customers:

Petersen-Dean and Solarjuice America previously agreed to a court-approved sale of Petersen-Dean’s consumer assets, including the sale of the consumer contracts that were in the Petersen-Dean pipeline before the pandemic and the resulting Chapter 11 filing caused these projects to stall.

While it’s been long and frustrating for many, it looks like there may be a light at the end of the tunnel. If you’re in this situation, reach out to the company using the contact information below.

What about warranties on existing systems?

If your Petersen-Dean solar array is already installed but you’re now having trouble with it and looking for warranty service, you might be a similarly bad position.

Customers on BBB and other review sites have complained about not being able to reach anyone at the company. What can they do?

First of all, since the acquisition of the company by Solarjuice, you might have better luck getting in contact with someone. Start by reaching out using the contact information listed at the bottom of this article. I can tell you that they are at least responding to emails.

There are other considerations, such as the manufacturer’s warranty and your homeowner’s insurance, which may provide you with coverage for any issues you’re having.

Unfortunately, solar company bankruptcies do happen, so we wrote an article with some tips that may help you in this situation.

Contact information for Petersen-Dean customers

The Petersen-Dean website lists the following contact information:

Phone: (800) 564-0362

Email: customercare@petersendean.com

Petersen-Dean is still booking installations

If you go to the Petersen-Dean website, you’ll see that they’re again booking installations for solar and roofing projects.

Obviously, going with this company is a very risky prospect, even after being thrown a life preserver by Solarjuice. It’s not clear whether the Petersen-Dean brand will continue because the logo on the website now reads Solar4America by Solarjuice. With all that’s happened with this company, new customers should definitely avoid using them for their solar installation.

Bottom line: be wary of very large solar installers

You might think that going with a really big company for your home solar installation is less risky than using a small company, but that’s really not the case.

In fact, if you look at the financials of some of these companies, such as Sunrun, you’ll find that many of them are unprofitable or have significant debt.

How do you find a good, local solar installer? We have some tips that we call the Goldilocks method: look for stable companies that not too big, and not too small. If you’d rather not do the background research on your own, use our free service to get solar quotes from prescreened companies near you.

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