Minnesota officials botched investigation into electrician
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota regulators admit mishandling an investigation into a troubled electrical contractor, leading former customers to think they could’ve avoided financial losses.
State officials acknowledged they could’ve penalized M8 Electric Solutions and owner Michael J. Harvey for multiple violations if officials didn’t misplace the investigative file for more than a year, the Star Tribune reported . Records showed he state Department of Labor and Industry took no action against the company’s unlicensed activity and shoddy work.
“Clearly, that is not something we are proud of,” said Charlie Durenberger, director of licensing and enforcement for the agency.
The department is now working to revoke licenses for Harvey and his new company, Able Energy, after receiving dozens of complaints from customers who have spent thousands of dollars on solar systems not yet installed.
Able Energy has collected around $1 million in upfront deposits without completing work on about 120 systems in Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Duluth resident Judy Gibbs spent $8,000 for a solar system that hasn’t yet been installed.
“It sure seems like the state dropped the ball,” Gibbs said. “We could have all been protected from this.”
Harvey and his attorney didn’t respond to requests for comment.
It’s unclear what kind of penalty Harvey should have received because the investigation was never completed, but it’s unlikely the state would have revoked M8′s license or denied a license to Harvey’s new company, Durenberger said.
In 2010, John Peterman discovered M8 didn’t obtain an electrical permit for a $140,000 outdoor kitchen and patio project at his south Minneapolis home. He spent $7,000 to hire another electrician to redo much of M8′s electrical work.
Peterman said Harvey should have been permanently barred from working as an electrical contractor in the state.
“I got robbed,” Peterman said. “His track record with us is one of complete dishonesty.”
Information from: Star Tribune, http://www.startribune.com