PULASKI COUNTY, Ark. – An Arkansas family believes a company misled them into more than double their solar debt before realizing they had two loans and were put into solar company’s payoff program.

Shannon Austin and her husband hired Sun Valley Renewables in an effort to cut back on their monthly electric bill.

The family’s first solar contract, signed in early 2021, totaled $31,500.

“We told them, “Hey this is not working for us. Our bills are still high – you need to come out and check out the system,” Austin explained.

She said Sun Valley’s solution was to get additional equipment but that came with an additional price tag. Austin said the solar company promised to refinance the cost into their loan.

It appears from this satellite image, there were 28 original solar panels. The Working 4 You drone spotted 49 on the roof now.

Left: Image from Google satellite Right: Image from Working 4 You drone

“They said they were going to refinance the loan to include the new panels and then we would just have that one payment,” Austin said.

Records reveal Sun Valley Renewables helped the family take out a second loan through Dividend Finance for $50,108.


Original loan via PowerPay: $31,500

Additional Equipment: $18,608

Total/Second loan via Dividend: $50,108

Sun Valley Renewables never paid off the original loan.

It would be like having two mortgages or two car payments. The Austin family is stuck with two loans, owing two banks, $81,608.

Austin thinks the solar company did it on purpose.

“They got another loan from another company like the job was brand new,” Austin said.

She said instead of Sun Valley Renewables paying the first loan off like first promised, the solar shop is sending her family monthly checks, ranging from several hundred to $1,000 dollars to help pay it off, but even she said that’s hit and miss.

“I don’t even want any of the money back, but I don’t want to be responsible for these loans,” Austin said.

A man by the name of Stephen Walker runs Sun Valley Renewables. Working 4 You spoke to him by phone and called the second loan a refinance.

“We moved them from a higher interest rate to a lower interest,” Walker said.

Walker said he intended to use the funds from the second loan to pay off the first loan but he wasn’t able to do that so he moved Shannon and her husband into his company’s monthly reimbursement system.

“We put them into our payment program, where we make payments to them on a monthly basis until we pay off the loan,” Walker said.

The solar company boss said when the family is paid off, he’s giving them an extra $5,000 for the hassle.

“We set this program up to make everybody happy and whole – when we make the payments until the loan, refinanced money is paid off,” Walker said.

He said about 17 people are in Sun Valley Renewables’ payment program, owing roughly $400,000. It’s unclear how many are individuals with double loans.

“We got into that situation where we couldn’t pay everybody off like we were hoping to so at that time we set that plan in motion,” Walker said. “We paid off a quarter of a million last year.”

Walker said there’s nothing fishy about it.

“[We] haven’t done any of these since the first of last year,” Walker said.

In a Feb 3 letter to Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin, Dividend wrote it does not refinance existing solar loans and it appears Sun Valley Renewables made ‘material misrepresentations’ to both Austin and Dividend.

Dividend noted it plans to demand Sun Valley Renewables pay off the second loan.

Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin said his office has received dozens of complaints against Sun Valley Renewables.

“We have received 30 complaints against Sun Valley Renewables, including complaints of alleged deception,” Griffin said. “I take these complaints very seriously and am aggressively looking into them.”

KARK made multiple attempts to contact PowerPay, the company that issued the first loan, but our phone calls and emails have not been returned.

Working 4 You wanted to know more about Sun Valley Renewables. Their website does not list its leadership team or have any of their pictures. It’s worth noting, many other Arkansas solar company websites do.

It didn’t stop the Working 4 You investigators— in fact— it made us more curious. Then, we pulled judicial records.

This is Stephen Walker, the man Austin said works for Sun Valley Renewables.

Stephen Walker

Court records reveal a judge ordered him to serve federal time before. Once in 2012 for tax evasion and again in 2013 for bank fraud.

The United States Attorney for the Western District said back then that Walker fabricated invoices to get a $423,000 construction loan but there was no construction.

In 2013, when announcing Walker’s conviction, FBI Special Agent in Charge Randall Coleman said don’t let greed get the best of you.

The fabrications, the false statements, and the misrepresentations made by Mr. Walker were all about greed,” Coleman said at the time.

Back to Walker’s recent solar work, Austin said she does not know if the 49 solar panels on her home are working properly.

Austin said her average electric bill before solar panels was about $200 a month.

“We haven’t seen any change,” she said.

Entergy spokeswoman Brandi Hinkle said Austin is using nearly twice the amount of electricity that Sun Valley Renewables originally estimated, but when Working 4 You told Hinkle about additional equipment being installed, it was the first time Entergy was made aware of it.

“An application for an add-on was not received, so we were unaware of any additional equipment being installed,” Hinkle said. “We have since found it is connected to the grid despite the company not informing us of additional equipment.”

Entergy sent a crew to Austin’s home for a meter test to ensure everything was working properly, and it was, Hinkle said.

Entergy has since initiated a review of how the additional solar panels were configured and why the equipment was connected to the grid without its knowledge.

Hinkle notes their system only measures the power Austin uses from Entergy, not the total usage or what energy is generated by the solar panels.

Austin didn’t know going green would put her so far in the red.

“We’re tired,” Austin said.

Calls and text messages to Walker about the solar equipment and his criminal record have not been returned.

Josh Walker also works for Sun Valley Renewables.

During Working 4 You’s investigation into Sun Valley Renewables, Austin said Josh attempted to make a deal by agreeing to pay both loans if her family signs a confidentiality agreement and asked KARK not to air its investigation.

Calls and text messages to Josh have not been returned.

If you have a story you want Working 4 You to investigate, call (501) 340-4448.