What is a False Claims Act violation within the Energy Industry?
The experienced False Claims Act attorneys at our practice have guided numerous whistleblowers within the False Claims Act (“FCA”) 31 U.S.C. §§ 3729-3733 and energy fraud industry. The right attorney can make the difference between a case being dismissed or seriously considered by the government. In addition, our practice has the knowledge and breadth of resources to ensure that whistleblowers are also protected against retaliation. Unfortunately, once a whistleblower reports violations (protected activity), he or she is at times retaliated against or even terminated. Therefore, it is vital that the reporting of violations, especially FCA in the energy industry, is done in a careful and confidential manner. An assigned attorney guides the whistleblower each step in the process.
Drastic examples of fraud in the energy industry are the cases against such solar energy companies as Solyndra and Solar City. Our attorneys have monitored and stayed current on renewable energy, solar, wind, biofuel, and other alternative energy areas. Since the United States government spends billions of dollars in this industry, it is inevitable that it would be rife with scandals and false claims. The primary area that our attorneys have become familiar with is energy contracting and services fraud. In this area, the United States Department of Energy is involved in ensuring the energy resources of our country are managed. However, companies instilled in servicing and contracting with the government have been caught over-charging and defrauding the government under the guise of billion-dollar contracts.
In September of 2017, Solar City agreed to settle an FCA violation case arising from renewable energy grants by the United States Department of the Treasury. The allegations pertained to Solar City submitting inflated claims on behalf of itself and affiliated investment funds to the United States Department of the Treasury. This was in violation of Section 1603 of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The Section 1603 Program subsidizes the renewable energy industry through grants to sustain legitimate costs of renewable energy properties. However, companies like Solar City allegedly claimed and certified that they spent more on constructing and acquiring renewable solar energy systems for the government. The submittal of thousands of false Section 1603 claims and the overstating of the cost bases of the solar energy properties resulted in inflated grant payments by the United States Department of the Treasury.