(Image credit: Tesla)
Walmart has linked a number of store fires in recent years to Tesla's alleged mismanagement of solar panel installation and maintenance, and took Elon Musk's suit to court.
A new lawsuit by the US retail giant calls for Tesla damages and the removal of solar panels across all store locations, amid allegations that "systemic, widespread error" by Tesla was blamed on a series of takings over the past decade. .
"To say that the obvious, properly designed, installed, inspected and maintained solar systems do not burn spontaneously, and the occurrence of multiple fires involving Tesla's solar systems is just an unmistakable sign of Tesla's negligence," reads Walmart's lawsuit.
The document ̵
Hotspots & # 39; visible to the naked eye & # 39;
Walmart's lawsuit outlines a timeline for at least seven store blocks between 2012 and 2018, which the U.S. retailer attributes to what it describes as Tesla's "gross negligence."
The series begins with three fires in Tesla-equipped stores: California's Long Beach ( 2012) and Milpitas (2016) and Colorado Lakeside (2017). Damages from the first two incidents were around, according to Walmart's estimates, $ 90,000 and $ 500,000, respectively.
According to the lawsuit, the timeline continues for another three blocks throughout H1 2018 at locations equipped with Tesla installations. After the last of the three, another California blaze in May 2018, Walmart asked Tesla to disconnect all rooftop solar systems.
Tesla acquitted, but this, Walmart claimed, did not stop further flaming at California's Yuba City switched-off facility in November 2018. Investigations revealed wires that were "still sparking" when the fire was discovered, the American retailer claimed.
According to the lawsuit, the post-control panel found "hotspots" – or "micro-crack" precursors – in various places where heat and pressure built up. Tesla, the document claims, used routine personnel who lacked "basic solar training and knowledge" and proper equipment for
In case Yuba City's fire, the document continues to claim, a Tesla technician helped create a "Fire Hazard" by not closing a combo box. Tesla employees, Walmart claims, also failed to disclose a earthquake warning that was triggered on site last summer.
Eyes on Musk in the midst of sunrise
Whether and how Tesla responds to the lawsuit is still unclear at this time, contacted today by PV Tech and the company had not commented at the time this article was published.
The lawsuit claims Tesla has not yet offered a "complete set of final reasons for analysis of the root "important factors behind the fire. The Silicon Valley company has not paid "a cent" of non-pocket damages and other fees that Walmart faced over four of the seven fires, the document claims.
The lawsuit does not identify the solar module marks found in relevant stores. Figures from ROTH Capital show that the leading suppliers for their California PV installations in 2016 were REC Group (35% of all module supply), Kyocera (30%), Tesla itself (11%) and Trina Solar (8%).
Walmart claims to have made one last attempt for Tesla to respond to the allegations in July 2019, giving the company a 30-day window to elucidate fire causes and compensate Walmart for losses up to that point. Tesla, Walmart claims, failed to deliver those points by August 15, paving the way for today's lawsuit.
For Tesla, the prospect of litigation and controversy comes within days of a restart of its solar panel business, with a new American rental service. "With the new lower Tesla pricing, it's like having a money printer on your roof if you live in a state with high electricity costs," was how CEO Musk posted the re-launch on Twitter over the weekend.
The company has witnessed subdued solar energy rollout levels in recent quarters, and hit record low distribution figures in the second quarter of 2019 even as energy storage reached new highs. The Silicon Valley player, which bought SolarCity in 2016, recently lost its place as the United States' top housing installer for Sunrun.
See here to read the lawsuit and other case documents in full
US solar projects will be at the center of Solar Media's Solar & Storage Finance USA, held in New York 29.- 30. October 2019