A Taumarunui woman is relieved to have solar panels boosting her power supply after four months of frustrating delays.
In the end, it was a rival company who installed the panels, not the firm she signed up with and now the subject of a dozen complaints to the Commerce Commission.
Last December, Local Focus told the story of Taumarunui resident Kimberley Simpson and her battle to reduce her power bill by going solar. But after a disappointing experience she was left out in the cold with no sign of her solar panels.
"The original problem was that I signed up with a company called Supercharged Energy because I was trying to get out of the Lines Company, Simpson said.
"It just so happened that in the local paper there was an offer to get two free solar panels and start the journey towards getting away from the Lines Company. And I thought that's a great idea, I'll do that."
Simpson had to sign a 10-year contract with a $3000 breakage fee, which she thought was fair enough. But after waiting a couple of months, her panels still hadn't arrived.
Fast forward four months and now another energy company has stepped in to help, and make sure she doesn't give up on solar altogether.
World Solar offered to install panels on Simpson's property for free.
"We decided to donate a system to her, a larger invertor with six monocrystalline panels to bring her power consumption down," said Corey Niwa of World Solar.
"We're looking at hopefully being able to save her up to $80 worth of power on a summer month and roughly $60 per month in the winter," Niwa said.
Community advocate and former councillor Elaine Wheeler said it was a great result for Kimberley.
"This is really how we are in New Zealand," Wheeler said. "I'm just so pleased for her to be able to have this situation where she's now got her free solar panels which is all she wanted in the first place and it was unfortunate."
Last December, Supercharged Energy was the subject of 10 complaints to the Commerce Commission and apologised to customers still waiting for panels.
"If there is anyone out there who has had delays, obviously we're very sorry and we're trying to be with you as quickly as we possibly can," Richard Homewood, Director Supercharged Energy director said at the time.
But by February, Simpson was still waiting. Despite several attempts to make contact Supercharged Energy did not return calls from Local Focus either.
The Commerce Commission said it was now investigating 12 complaints.
The Sustainable Energy Association of New Zealand warned consumers to be cautious when choosing installers, and Niwa agreed.
"You want to make sure you're installing with a company that's accredited. You can certainly go with another alternative option, you might save a couple of hundred dollars today but you're talking about an investment that's going to be on your roof for another 25 years.
"You could get short changed later on down the track, or even worse you could potentially even put your house at risk whether it's fire or installation problems or whatever it may be."
There was one more surprise for Simpson as her love of coffee in the original story hadn't gone unnoticed. Harvey Norman got in on the act and donated a coffee machine.
"We had heard that she was a coffee lover," said Shane Gilland from Harvey Norman. "So we spoke to one of our suppliers who helped us out and we thought we'd all chip in and gift her a coffee machine."
After her initial disapointment at the lack of solar panels, Simpson now has a better solar system than she would have had, plus a new appliance to use her freely generated power.
"I'm very grateful for World Solar for stepping in," she said.
"I just want to say thank you," she said. "This is just one of the best things that's happened to me and my family for a really long time."
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