Republican lawmakers question DOE funding of Sunnova VPP program

In a December 7 letter to DOE Loan Programs Office Director Jigar Shah, two Republican lawmakers claim to have received “disturbing reports” about Sunnova, the recipient of one of the first LPO solar loans.

Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA), Chair of the House Committee on Energy; and Senator John Barrasso, M.D., (WY) Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Commerce and Natural Resources; wrote in the letter that “Sunnova has racked up numerous consumer complaints, including those alleging troubling sales practices, such as Sunnova pressing elderly homeowners in poor health to sign long-term contracts costing tens of thousands of dollars.”

The lawmakers asked Shah to provide extensive documentation of all internal discussions related to the Project Hestia loan by December 21.

Project Hestia is Sunnova’s program that pairs solar installations with virtual power plant (VPP) technology. LPO entered into a $3 billion partial loan guarantee agreement with Sunnova to help the company expand the program, particularly for underserved populations. The company’s agreement with the LPO requires that at least 20% of Project Hestia loans are given to homeowners with low credit scores and at least 20% to homeowners in Puerto Rico.

Sunnova responded to the lawmakers’ letter with a statement reiterating its commitment to Project Hestia and ethical business practices.

“Project Hestia stands as a testament to Sunnova and the DOE’s unwavering commitment to empowering disadvantaged communities and enhancing the overall energy landscape in the United States,” said William J. (John) Berger, founder and CEO of Sunnova. “Unfortunately, we have become a political football in an environment where the renewable energy industry is increasingly caught in the crosshairs. Despite this, Sunnova remains dedicated to delivering on our goal of providing clean, affordable and reliable energy services.”

Shah also responded to the letter with a post on X saying his office firmly stands behind Project Hestia.

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