A local solar-power leasing firm that was reprimanded by the Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors for operating illegally has not obtained the required credentials within the recommended 60-day period, a state spokeswoman said Friday.
Jon Sader, the CEO of Sader Power Enterprises, was fined $8,000 on March 20 for his company’s work on three solar installation jobs that it was not licensed to complete. The licensing board also banned Sader from signing new contracts until his firm was licensed, and it recommended that he complete that task within 60 days.
That hadn’t happened by Friday, days after the recommended time period expired, said the board’s spokeswoman, Kara Kearney.
Sader entered a plea of no contest at the March hearing.
In an emailed statement Friday, Sader said he has “every intention to apply for a Louisiana contractor’s license under Sader Power Enterprises’ name.”
“Currently, our attorneys are vetting the application process to ensure that everything goes smoothly while we continue to acquire the necessary documentation needed to complete the application,” he added. “We fully expect to complete this process and hand in our application to the Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors in the very near future.”
Kearney said Sader Power Enterprises applied for commercial and residential licenses in mid-2012 but failed to complete the process.
The state fine came after a class-action lawsuit filed Feb. 7 in New Orleans accused Sader of overstating the potential savings that could be realized from leasing his equipment. The lawsuit also claimed the company was not licensed to do solar installations in Louisiana.
Sader’s company has gained local recognition since 2011 for television ads in which he stands on a roof talking about the benefits of leasing solar panels.
The licensing board was aware of other projects that Sader performed without the proper licensing, but it chose to impose fines only on three of his projects that were current at the time. Two were in New Orleans and the third was in St. Bernard Parish.
The licensing board could have fined Sader up to 10 percent of the total value of a project, plus $500 in administrative costs, for contracting without the proper licensing. Sader boasts on its website that the company has performed more than 2,500 solar installations in Louisiana.
The class-action suit, filed by two New Orleans residents, also raised a litany of other issues: that Sader’s company does not disclose to customers the solar-power equipment’s actual cost, that it does not provide customers with copies of signed contracts and that it urges customers to have the equipment installed even if their property is not well suited for it because of shade or other reasons.
The case was assigned to U.S. District Judge Mary Ann Vial Lemmon.
Attorneys for Sader have filed a motion to compel the two residents who filed the suit to accept arbitration.
The state Attorney General’s Office is also investigating Sader Power for alleged violations of the Louisiana Unfair Trade Practices Act. Laura Gerdes Colligan, a spokeswoman for state Attorney General Buddy Caldwell, said Friday that the investigation is continuing.
Meanwhile, business at Sader’s company appears to be at a standstill.
Devon Richardson, 63, of Harvey, said he decided to have solar panels installed after seeing Sader’s TV commercial repeatedly during football season. “He was pretty cool, standing on the roof,” Richardson said. “He’s very knowledgeable about the project that they were presenting.”
He finally pulled the trigger in January, sending in a $250 deposit not long after a company representative knocked on his door to tout the panels’ potential savings. But he has heard nothing since then.
Richardson said he’s tried calling and has left several messages but has gotten no response.
“He seems like a pitchman, because he’s not taking up responsibility for that company,” he said of Sader.
Now, Richardson just wants his money back. Somebody else can do the work, he said.
“It’s very frustrating,” he said.
Follow Richard Thompson on Twitter, @rthompsonMSY.