Defunct Aurora solar firm leaves a Brighton family “stuck in this abyss” (2024)

On a scorching Saturday afternoon, Josefina Lemus sat in her duplex in Brighton and tried to find the words to describe the heartache and frustration of these past two years.

“No sé qué decir,” Lemus, 61, said eventually, shaking her head and wiping away tears.

“She says, ‘I don’t know what to say,’” her daughter, AnaRosa Stroh, translated. Then, speaking for herself, Stroh said, “It has affected all of us, and affects all of us day by day.”

Two years ago, while sitting in that same living room next to her husband, Lemus saw an ad on Spanish-language TV for Blue Sky Solar, an Aurora company. It promised energy efficiency, tax breaks and lower bills. Her husband, Francisco, called the number on the screen.

When Blue Sky’s salespeople arrived at the couple’s duplex, there was a problem: Their fixed income didn’t justify a $48,000 loan to fund the solar panels. Francisco asked his daughter to co-sign but Stroh refused, frustrating her father, who had mild dementia, she said.

But somehow, the 25-year loan was signed anyway and installation began. Stroh, her mother and their attorney believe that Francisco’s signature was forged, noting that it doesn’t look like his other signatures and was signed digitally, something they say that he didn’t know how to do. And, at age 79, he wouldn’t have signed a loan that would outlive him, they say.

“My dad was not a guy to have debt,” according to Stroh, the daughter. “He had a credit card but he paid it off at the end of every month. Otherwise he paid cash for everything.”

The loan came from a California company called GoodLeap, which lends money for home solar projects. Last year, GoodLeap paid a $65,000 fine to settle allegations by the attorney general of Minnesota that it had deceived borrowers with false promises and hidden costs.

Francisco Lemus died unexpectedly at 80 in October 2022, four months after supposedly signing the loan paperwork. Seven months after that, the owner of Blue Sky also died and that company closed up shop. Its project at the Lemus home was never finished.

Still, the collection calls didn’t stop. Francisco’s cellphone rang and rang, his daughter says, even after GoodLeap was told he had died. His wife makes payments on the loan, a few hundred dollars each month, but can’t pay it off. The solar panels still don’t work.

“She has been making payments since 2022 and has nothing to show for it,” Stroh said.

Lemus and Stroh would like to move to Arizona, far from the home where their husband and father lived and where he suffered the fall that killed him. But GoodLeap’s loan, which partly encumbers the duplex, has clouded its title and made selling impossible, they say.

“This is the house they lived in together since 1997,” Stroh said of her parents. “This house brings back memories of him, it reminds her of him. She’s ready for another chapter.”

“That’s what’s so sad about this,” said Anita Springsteen, an attorney for the mother and daughter. “People get stuck in this abyss and there is no way out of it.”

On the first day of June, Springsteen filed a lawsuit against GoodLeap and Blue Sky Solar on behalf of her clients. She wants the GoodLeap loan, which she considers to be fraudulent, forgiven, the solar panels taken away, and damage to the duplex’s roof repaired.

“I hope justice prevails,” she said. “If we can get to a jury, a jury will side with this family.”

There is reason to doubt the family’s claims against Blue Sky will succeed. Last year, a man in unincorporated Boulder County sued the solar company for failing to finish a project after he paid $51,000. Blue Sky, which was defunct by then, ignored that case and the man dropped his lawsuit, believing it was a waste of time. (GoodLeap wasn’t a defendant.)

Meanwhile, Blue Sky and GoodLeap are also being sued in Denver for allegedly defrauding a man there. The case was filed four days before that of Stroh and her mother, and has several similarities: The plaintiff is a man of modest means on a fixed income who speaks limited English and the solar panels on his roof do not work but cloud his title, the lawsuit claims.

GoodLeap’s spokespeople and its lawyers, Scott Armstrong and Blake Gansborg in the Denver office of Nelson Mullins, did not answer requests for comment about the two cases.

Stroh, 33, and her mother hope that litigation can bring an end to their two-year saga.

“I’m so drained, so exhausted,” the daughter said, “and so ready to get to the finish line.”

Get more business news by signing up for our Economy Now newsletter.

Get more Colorado news by signing up for our daily Your Morning Dozen email newsletter.

Defunct Aurora solar firm leaves a Brighton family “stuck in this abyss” (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Arline Emard IV

Last Updated:

Views: 5354

Rating: 4.1 / 5 (72 voted)

Reviews: 87% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Arline Emard IV

Birthday: 1996-07-10

Address: 8912 Hintz Shore, West Louie, AZ 69363-0747

Phone: +13454700762376

Job: Administration Technician

Hobby: Paintball, Horseback riding, Cycling, Running, Macrame, Playing musical instruments, Soapmaking

Introduction: My name is Arline Emard IV, I am a cheerful, gorgeous, colorful, joyous, excited, super, inquisitive person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.