Houston disabled senior says she's paying a $50,000 bill for 'free' solar panels

An elderly Houston woman says she feels tricked into getting what she thought were "free" solar panels, but then she received a $50,000 bill.

Gloria Combs, 77, says she was told a government program would pick up the tab and pay for her solar panels. Shortly after installation, she received a big bill. Now, her own house is a constant reminder of the debt she can't afford, and she feels more at home at the neighborhood community center.

"This is my relaxation, my concentration, and then I be hating to go back home," Combs tells me from her wheelchair as we enter the community center together.

She tells me her Sunnyside home has become a place she dreads, all because of the solar panels.

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"I can't eat. I can't sleep. Every time I turn around I'm crying. I try to be out of my house as much as possible, so I can stop thinking about it," explains the 77-year-old. 

The disabled senior who's a double amputee says she told the SunRun solar company representative who came to her house she's on a fixed income.

"She told me my electricity bill would be lower, and the solar panels would be free because she said it's through the government. It's a government program that was going on," says Combs.

In fact, the U.S. Department of Energy has this warning on its website saying, "The Department of Energy is aware of claims of offers for free solar panels...the federal government does not offer programs for free home solar panels."

Combs had to find out after her solar panels were installed. "SunRun. They sent me a bill and I called them, and they told me it was $50,000. I had to pay $50,000, and I told them ‘let me take it off’ because I wasn't told that. I wasn't told that at all," she explains. 

"They told me I would have to pay $50,000 over 25 years. (You would have never agreed to a project that cost $50,000?) Ain't no way I would have agreed to that. It's a nightmare. It really is. I've got to go out and find me two jobs, three if necessary. I can't pay no $50,000."

SunRun, a San Francisco-based solar energy company has 4,184 Better Business Bureau complaints in the last three years, from claims of sales representatives using deceptive tactics to the company continuing to charge family members after an elderly client is deceased.

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Combs said she feels targeted because of her age. "I know it's a lot of scams going around, but sometimes you've got to believe somebody, and I believed her. I really did."

The 77-year-old says she's been paying $215 a month to SunRun since March 2023, money she says she doesn't have.

I reached out to SunRun for comment. The company told me they would have someone contact Combs, but did not release a statement to FOX 26.

We will keep you updated.