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Walmart sues Tesla over solar panels at seven stores



SpaceX owner and Tesla CEO Elon Musk gestures during a talk at the E3 Games Conference in Los Angeles, June 13, 2019.

Mike Blake | Reuters

Walmart sues Elon Musk's electric vehicle and clean energy company after Tesla's solar panels on top of seven retailer's stores allegedly fired, according to a lawsuit.

The Walmart suit alleges breach of contract, gross negligence and failure to comply with industry standards. Walmart is asking Tesla to remove solar panels from more than 240 Walmart locations where they are installed, and to pay damages related to all the fires Walmart says Tesla caused.

The Walmart suit, based in the state of New York, claims that: "As of November 201

8, no fewer than seven Walmart stores had experienced fires due to Tesla's solar systems – including the four fires described above and three others that had occurred previously. " The registration details evacuations, damaged property and inventory.

Tesla's stock dropped after hours on the news.

Walmart claimed, among many complaints, that "Tesla routinely deployed individuals to inspect the solar systems that lacked basic solar training and knowledge." In the suit, they also claimed that Tesla failed to properly ground solar and electrical systems, and that Tesla-installed solar panels at the Walmart stores contained a large number of faults visible to the naked eye, which Tesla should have found and repaired before they led to fires.

Walmart and Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Tesla has been trying to revive its solar industry of late.

On Sunday, CEO Elon Musk announced in a string of tweets that customers in some states can now rent Tesla's residential rooftop solar systems without a contract. The offer is available in six states and will cost customers at least $ 50 a month (or $ 65 a month in California).

Although Musk spies on how easy it is to cancel a rented roof at any time, the fine print on Tesla's website mentions a $ 1500 fee for removing the solar panels and restoring the customer's roof.

In the second quarter of 2019, Tesla installed only 29 megawatts of solar, a record low for the company in a single quarter. In its heyday, Tesla's solar division (formerly SolarCity) installed over 200 megawatts in a single quarter.

When Tesla bought SolarCity in 2016 for around $ 2.6 billion, the deal caused controversy that continues to this day.

SolarCity was founded and was run by Musk's first cousins, Peter and Lyndon Rive. Prior to Tesla's takeover, Musk owned about a fifth of the SolarCity stock, valued at around $ 575 million at the end of 2015. While SolarCity had been a successful solar installer in the previous decade, the stock fell and ballooned to $ 3.4 billion before the agreement was terminated.

In an investor presentation intended to drum up support for the acquisition, Musk showed what appeared to be slender, sunny roof tiles in glass. Rather than bulky panels, they looked like premium shingles. The sunroof roofs are still not widely distributed or mass produced.

Jordan Novet contributed to this report.

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