SUNation Solar Systems said Thursday it agreed to take over the primary service functions of shuttered rival Level Solar, in a deal that will reinstate billing and technical support for more than 2,700 customers, most of them on Long Island.
Under the agreement, SUNation, of Ronkonkoma, will service all Level Solar customers, including those as far away as Massachusetts and New York City, said Scott Maskin, chief executive of SUNation.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but officials stressed that the agreement is a fee-for-services arrangement, not an acquisition or merger.
“This is an unprecedented event,” said Maskin.
Saying the move would be “seamless,” Masking said, “We want people to remain confident in solar.”
The move effectively doubles the customer base of a local solar company considered one of the Island’s largest homegrown solar installers. “We’re up to the task,” Maskin said.
“We are confident that SUNation will be able to provide a transparent and responsive customer experience,” Level Solar shareholders said in a statement posted on a new Level Solar page on SUNation’s website.
After launching in Manhattan in 2013 and recruiting thousands of customers in the region through a network of hundreds of canvassers, Level Solar disappeared from the market last month.
Level’s board of directors sent a note to the company’s more than 200 New York employees saying they’d been terminated “immediately” after the company suspended operations because of “unforeseen circumstances” related to a Workers’ compensation insurance lapse.
Weeks later, a law firm representing several of those employees filed a class-action lawsuit seeking back wages, vacation and other pay, alleging the company violated a state worker-notification law.
Newsday on Monday reported that SUNation, which had hired more than 20 former Level employees and managers, had been in talks to take on certain aspects of its business following. New York State’s Green Bank, a $25 million secured lender to Level, had been closely monitoring the company’s options following the closure.
In addition to finance, metering and billing functions, SUNation will handle technical support for all Level customers, officials said.
Customers experiencing problems with their systems will now be able to contact SUNation. Maskin said the company will not take over Level Solar facilities in Hicksville and Ronkonkoma, or any other locations.
“We are being hired to service the existing clients, sending out bills, taking payments, doing the administrative financial function,” Maskin said.
Customers can access information about the arrangement at: www.sunationsolarsystems.com/level-solar.
Unlike SUNation, which primarily sells the systems it installs, Level Solar used a “power-purchase agreement” model that gave customers a discount on the energy produced on their roofs without having to put money down for systems. Level Solar, which owned the systems, kept the lucrative federal tax credits, valued at tens of thousands of dollars per system.
The model has presented some customers with problems. Level Solar customer Andrew Lorch said he’s hit a roadblock refinancing his home because of Level’s shut down. He said he needs a “subordination agreement” for the loan to go through “but due to the lack of response from Level this is not possible.”
Maskin said SUNation would be the place for Level customers to contact to resolve such issues.
Customers who opt for the leasing or power-purchase agreement model for their solar power can have similar issues when they attempt to sell their homes, experts say. If the new owner declines to take over the seller’s agreement, the seller may be forced to buy the system outright.