Leading US based retailer Walmart is reportedly suing clean energy company Tesla after solar panels installed at seven of its stores caught fire.
The lawsuit accuses Tesla of breach of contract, failure to maintain industry standards and gross negligence. Walmart has now asked Tesla to remove their solar panels from over 240 store locations and demanded payment for damages caused by the fires.
The Walmart lawsuit, which was filed in New York claims that no fewer than seven Walmart stores suffered from fires as of November 2018, including four mentioned in detail in the suit and three others that had occurred at an earlier time. The lawsuit details inventory, property damage and evacuation.
Walmart alleged, among other complaints, that Tesla employed staff untrained in knowledge about solar panels to inspect the stores’ solar systems and failed to provide proper grounding of the solar and electrical systems. They also claimed that Tesla installed visibly defective solar panels at the stores, which should have been identified and repaired before they ended up in flames.
Tesla has been working on restoring their solar business in recent times.
This lawsuit comes along the heels of series of tweets by Tesla CEO, Elon Musk, announcing that customers in certain states could now install Tesla’s residential, rooftop solar panels on a contract-free rental basis. The offer was made available in 6 states and costs customers a minimum of $50 per month ($65 per month for customers in California).
Although the rented rooftop systems were touted as being easy to cancel at any time, the Tesla website’s fine print mentions that a $1500 fee would be charged to customers to remove the panels and restore the roof.
The lawsuit is the latest blow to hit Tesla’s crashing solar business, acquired through SolarCity’s $2.6 Billion purchase in 2016. Tesla’s solar installations in the 2nd quarter of 2019 have plummeted to a mere 29 megawatts, which marks a record low in a single quarter for the company.
Walmart and Tesla are yet to respond to comment requests.