Caveat Emptor - Buyer Beware
Leandro Peña-Salvatico/Susten Energy
My name is Barry. I am a 71 year old nurse and first responder during the Covid pandemic. My wife is a retired educator and cancer survivor currently in her third remission.
This is what our experience has been with Mr. Leandro Peña-Salvatico and his company Susten Energy.
At first glance, Leandro Peña-Salvatico has all the qualifications you would look for in someone to shepherd you through the rigors of design and installation of a residential solar system.
He is the founder & CEO of Susten Energy, an engineer specializing in the fields of clean tech, renewable energy generation, energy storage & demand management. He also has a formal education in business and finance, and environmental technologies and management.
What I’ve learned from my involvement with Mr. Peña-Salvatico is that you can have multiple degrees and still learn nothing about people. Advanced degrees can’t teach you how to be a compassionate and caring human being.
I first became aware of Susten Energy through a solar referral source, Energy Sage of Connecticut. They act as an interface between consumers and installers, collecting a homeowners information and releasing it to their subscribing contractors. Contractors that are interested in your project contact Energy Sage who in turn pass the information on to you. This is done for a referral fee payable by the contractor upon obtaining a signed contract.
In February 2021, I met with Mr. Peña-Salvatico at my home in CT. We spent a few hours together discussing residential solar systems and ultimately agreed on what would be best for our home. That day I signed a contract with him and made our first deposit of 10%.
In subsequent text messages, Mr. Peña-Salvatico instructed me not to contact Energy Sage to inform them of our contract as he wanted to circumvent the referral fee. In exchange he would give me cash cards to lower my final system costs. That was a red flag that in hindsight provided an indication of his moral character.
In a recent correspondence with Energy Sage I have been informed that “Susten Energy has been “removed from quoting on our platform due to repeated violations of our terms.”
About a month later, March 2021, when the permitting process began, another 10% deposit was due, which I submitted promptly. Although I had to get directly involved with my town to facilitate this, I didn’t think anything of it. In fact, I hoped it would move the project along a little faster; luckily, it didn’t.
In July 2021, approximately 1 month after the permit was issued and 5 months after I signed the contract, my wife’s cancer returned. Her health concerns and my employment status forced us to contact Mr. Peña-Salvatico to cancel our solar project. At this point we had submitted nearly $6000 to Susten Energy and although we did have permits for the project, not a nail had been driven to begin our installation.
I asked Mr. Peña-Salvatico for a portion of our deposit back since his contract stated that usual expenses incurred at the time of permit issuance was $1800.
After several attempts to recoup our money, Mr. Peña-Salvatico said he was “not obligated” to return any money and contractually, he could in fact seek an additional $13,000 to cancel the contract.
Mr. Peña-Salvatico further stated in an email that “the law and the local regulations are on my side and that's what matters most.
You were and still are fully aware of the purchase you were making, when you decide to do it. Moreover, my company is not in a good financial position to offer you a voluntary refund at the moment.”
I have to agree with what he has stated above. The law is on his side and I was and still am aware of the agreement we signed in February, but circumstances change.
I submit that this post pandemic environment and the changes in my wife’s health status exhibit extenuating circumstances that dictate consideration for a voluntary refund of unused funds.
Frankly, I don’t think Mr. Peña-Salvatico ever considered a “voluntary” refund.
On another website Mr. Peña-Salvatico borrowed a line from Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech saying “I Have A Green Dream”.
I’m sure Dr. King would have applauded the vision but decried Mr. Peña-Salvatico’s lack of compassion and humanity in our circumstance