Trouble with solar panel company

In november 2011 I have signed a contract with EUROFRANCE SOLAIR (EFS) for an 9 Kv photovoltaic installation. The commercial explained to me that they would install in december and the installation would be connected to the ERDFnet in januari, hence production. They proposed a loan to fund this wich I signed with SYGMA BANQUE, the whole enterprise would be 'autopayant', meaning the montly payments would be covered by the money we made by selling the electricity to ERDF. To make this possible the first installment for the loan would be in february 2013, so we could sell a years worth of electricity to ERDF wich would create an financial buffer to start the monthly payments.

Sounded great!

Off course there was delay, installment of the panels was done in january. Not very well done, so we started up an exchange per phone, later e-mail to get things installed correctly. Surprisingly, in july, a visit from the 'consuel'was planned. They need to approve the installation before it is connected to the net. The inspector off course was shocked, made a list of things in need of correction (and btw approved the installation to my surprise).

In a nutshell, with a lot of trouble, the installation is refitted and connected per 13th february.

By then we began to get afraid of the finacial consequences of this drama. No production, and a loan to pay, which was not in the budget.... EFS suggested to search another bank to get a new loan, and offered to pay the fine to SYGMA BANQUE. So that we did, but SYGMA BANQUE not only demanded the fine of 1%, but also the interest over the period february 2012 (when they payed EFS the money) untill january 2013. The total was € 2868.70.

So, now we not only missed out on a year of production, worth about € 7500, but also payed an extra 2868.70 on top.

I demanded EFS to reimbourse me the total of 2868.70, and threatened them with an alternative of a lawsuit to demand that amount, plus the loss of the yaers production, plus the costs of lawers an tribunal, including interest.

They now offer € 550.

Nice story!

So, questions:

1. are there more people with problems with EFS?

2. If they do not pay up, what more can I do myself to get them to agree?

3. Is it feasable to sue them for this amount?

4. Do lawyers in France work 'no cure no pay'?, because to be frankly our reserves are spread pretty thin now.

5. Does anybody know a lawyer who can do this kind of work, preferably in the area between Bergerac and Sarlat?

Be greatfull for some answers!


I'm sure that the company that sold you the system has charts of anticipated amount of Kwh, produced in different months of the year. My query was related to a comparison of the actual vs forecast production. After all, you bought the system based on how much income it would produce vs cost of installation.

It's how the system is configured, rather than the cabling that determines whether you can use the power generated, if you can't sell it to EDF, because of power cuts.

I suggest it worth investigating. When I lived in France, some years ago, power cuts were part of life and often completely inexplicable e.g. they occurred during sunny as well as bad weather.

I live in Australia and to save money power lines in suburbs and in the country were constructed overhead. With the advent of climate change extreme weather events like severe thunderstorms are more freqent. They cause power surges which blow fuses etc. on poles and due to the antiquated monitoring, power to a property can be out for many hours, sometimes more than a day.

Last summer we had a power cut lasting 36 hours and I phoned a neighbour, who claimed they 3 freezers full of meat that was spoiling. I said you have solar, why can't you use the power generated. He said that it only works when the grid is working.

Whenever solar companies try to interest me in their product, I ask them if I can use the power, when there is a power cut. They are forced to admit that no, I can't. I could only do this if I was disconnected from the mains but then I would need batteries to store power for use, when the panels are not capturing light.

Also, it has been known here that solar customers are put on a higher tariff than before, because they are selling power to the mains.

When do you get paid by EDF for the power generated less your consumption - monthly, quarterly, annually?

A detailed scrutiny of all the agreements should reveal answers to these questions.

As a general observation, if you are getting a higher rate from EDF than they charge you, where do they get the money? Someone has to pay and that someone includes you. Even if it comes from the government, it still has to find the money from the taxpayer.

Thanks Tim, I will look into the UFC, did not know of them.



Now that its working I am happy with the production, even with the varying weather, its nice to see the weel turning!

For me, the installation is separate from the house, I sell all the energy to EDF, they pay me more than I pay them per KwH....

As for what happens with powercuts?? Haven't hadone since the installation works, but it's transportedover the same cable...

When the installation is connected to your own grid normally it should function when there is a powercut, as the produced electricity is than directly used I would imagine.

Sorry - I think I messed up the correct way of replying , BUT:-

As this whole business of lending money to install your solar panels is relativly recent, and hugely expanding ( if I judge from the 20 or so 'cold calls' I get a week on the subject) I would recommend you contacting the UFC ..

This kind of thing they have a tendancy to be able to settle in one or two letters from their legal team.

It is important that this way of producing electricity goes forward without tripping clients like your good selves up at every turn, and I feel sure you'll find that they have a good knowledge of these contracts !

There is forcibly a U.F.C - Que Choisir branch in your area
( French equivalant to Which? with a Union of consumers behind them )

Thanks for trying to save the Planet, by the way !



I realise the installation has been in for just over a month but is it performing as expected for the time of year or is it too early to say?

Also, does the installation only generate power for your use when the mains power is on? This is a major issue for me since, where I am the solar installation will not work and generate power to be used by the owner, if there is a mains power cut. Defeats the object of using renewal energy, if you can't use it.

Thanks Terry, did not know these!

Michael, have a look at the Useful Links page . There's a section on legal help and another on consumer organisations like INC or UFC Que Choisir who can and will advise you. You will almost certainly have to sign up to the organisation to get detailed help but it's not expensive.

Thanks Andrew for your comments.

The contract just specifies what will be installed. But I have the "promised"timeframe on paper with the letterhead of EFS, including all the emails we exchanged.

Not so afraid of the WHE listening, but you are right, if I know where to get good advise, which was the reason for this posting, its better to continue those conversations are by mail or ohone.