Technology and manufacturing giant, Tesla, came under fire earlier this week after retail giant Walmart filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit regarding the shoddy installation of Tesla’s Solar City solar panels which led to fires in at least seven Walmart stores around the country. However, it appears like Walmart isn’t the Tesla solar panel client that has seen their roofs on fire.
A few days after reports of the lawsuit blew up, Amazon, one of the world’s biggest e-commerce platform and online retail company, also said that they too experienced fire caused by Tesla’s solar panel. In a statement last Friday, Amazon said that the roof of one of its warehouses in Redlands, California caught fire and investigation on the fire revealed that the use of Solar City/Tesla solar panels contributed much to the fire on June 2018.
The retail giant said that after the event, they had taken steps in order to prevent the same incident from happening and have noted that they will no longer contract Tesla to install solar panels in their infrastructures.
The statement of Amazon was prompted by the multi-million dollar lawsuit filed by Walmart against Tesla’s solar panels that allegedly caused a fire in at least seven stores nationwide. Walmart is suing Tesla for breach of contract over the “gross negligence” that lead to the fire, risking the safety of its customers and employees, and losses in terms of damaged and burned merchandize.
Not only that Walmart is suing for damages, but the retail giant also wants the court to compel Tesla to remove its solar panels from the roof of Walmart stores.
Walmart hired the then SolarCity, a company that sold solar panels and other renewable energy equipment and was acquired by Elon Musk’s Tesla in 2016, to retrofit and provide the retail store chain with solar panels and manage them in all of the 240 Walmart stores nationwide. However, Walmart alleges that due to mismanagement and negligence, a fire broke out of its roof.
“Local news photographs and videos of the store showed a tremendous plume of black smoke emerging from flames as firefighters arrived at the scene,” Walmart says in its lawsuit, referencing to a fire that broke out in March 2018 on the roof of a Walmart in Beavercreek, Ohio.
“As smoke invaded the store, Walmart employees made an announcement over the store’s public address system and instructed shoppers to evacuate. Customers in nearby shops were also evacuated until firefighters were able to control the blaze. The fire destroyed significant amounts of store merchandise and required substantial repairs, totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket losses. The store remained closed for eight days. Ominously, the fire had occurred near gas lines on the store’s roof. By a stroke of luck, the gas lines remained intact, and catastrophic damages and injuries were averted,” reads the 115-page court document obtained by Z6Mag.
However, on Thursday, both Walmart and Tesla released a joint statement addressing the legal battle the two companies are fighting. The two company said that they are working together to address the issues. In an apparent backpedaling, Walmart through the joint statement said that the retail giant and “Tesla looks forward to addressing all issues and re-energizing Tesla solar installations at Walmart stores, once all parties are certain that all concerns have been addressed.”
In the suit, Walmart alleges that Tesla has not done its responsibility in maintaining the safety of the solar panel installations and until now, the retail giant said that the solar panel manufacturer is yet to provide them with “root cause” analysis to identify the problems and resolve issues that would prevent future fires. For Walmart, Tesla neglected its responsibility to maintain and manage the solar panels as stipulated in their contract.
However, Tesla said that ongoing negotiations were continuously stalled by Walmart, how to further inspections continued alongside Walmart’s independent inspectors, and how dozens of sites were approved for re-energizing.
“We also disagree with Walmart’s contention that its consultants have ‘confirm[ed] Tesla’s systemic, widespread breaches and negligence.’ The parties’ Agreements anticipate that the systems will require periodic maintenance and repair in a manner that is entirely customary within the solar power industry,” read Tesla’s testimony.
“The fact that some sites, in fact, need maintenance and repair – especially sites that have been idle for a year now is neither surprising nor a breach of any Agreement. The fact that thorough, comprehensive inspections have identified areas for improvement and opportunities for error correction is equally unsurprising. Tesla welcomes the chance to improve its processes, tools, and monitoring, but that too is not evidence of any breach.”