Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Don't Make Me Root For Walmart

But reasonably personal home solar (which this is not but Tesla is otherwise involved in) is a "good" thing, installing it on existing homes is not quite as straightforward as some (including Tesla) like to make it sound, and having a high profile company (allegedly) screw it up this badly is, well, bad.
In its complaint, filed in New York late Tuesday, Walmart contends Tesla breached its contract to design, install, maintain and operate solar-power systems on the roofs of its stores. Aside from the fires — complete with photographic evidence — Walmart accuses Tesla of a pattern of negligence, obfuscation and, as in the instance with the plumbing tool being used to tighten electrical connectors, sheer incompetence. Tesla did not respond to requests for comment. However, in letters from its lawyer, included as exhibits, Tesla blamed Walmart for “breaches of contract, deliberate delay, and bad faith,” effectively blocking the inspection process for the solar installations and unnecessarily forcing the entire fleet shut down for months because of a handful of “thermal events.”

An unusual feature of Walmart’s complaint is that the “substantive allegations” section begins not with the fires or even the installation of the offending panels but an important chapter of Tesla’s own corporate history, namely the 2016 acquisition of SolarCity Corp. Walmart pulls no punches, characterizing the deal as a bailout of a struggling related party. This section reads like a dramatic prologue aimed at establishing the narrative that Tesla’s energy business was built on shoddy foundations, setting off a chain of unfortunate events that ultimately sparked those fires and put that plumbing tool in that inspector’s hand.