In Hagey v. Solar Serv. Experts, LLC, No. G061836, 2023 WL 5602365, at *3–4 (Cal. Ct. App. Aug. 30, 2023), the Court of Appeal held that a solar panel contract constituted a “consumer credit contract” under the Rosenthal FDCPA.  First, the Court of Appeal addressed the “due and owing” phrase in the Rosenthal Act’s definition section.

The question before us is whether the operative complaint alleges activity by defendant which falls within the ambit of consumer debt collection activity. The simple answer is it does. To begin, the allegations state defendant sent plaintiff bills and late payment notices about money which defendant claimed plaintiff owed. This satisfies the money “alleged to be due or owing” component of the statutory scheme. Defendant incorrectly focuses on the apparently undisputed fact that plaintiff did not actually owe the money for which he was billed. The plain statutory language makes clear the Legislature did not choose to protect only those who owe money. (See Fausto v. Credigy Services Corp. (N.D. Cal. 2009) 598 F.Supp.2d 1049, 1053 [reaching same conclusion with respect to similar language in FDCPA].) Indeed, the Rosenthal Act, like the FDCPA, was specifically designed “to ‘eliminate the recurring problem of debt collectors dunning the wrong person or attempting to collect debts which the consumer has already paid.’ ” (Swanson v. Southern Oregon Credit Service, Inc. (9th Cir.1988) 869 F.2d 1222, 1225; see also Paredes v. Credit Consulting Services, Inc. (2022) 82 Cal.App.5th 410, 425, 297 Cal.Rptr.3d 862 (Paredes) [“The Rosenthal Act is modeled on, and applies more broadly than, the federal FDCPA.”].) “It is difficult to conceive of a more unfair debt collection practice than dunning the wrong person” or dunning a person for debt already paid. (Davis v. Midland Funding, LLC (E.D. Cal. 2014) 41 F.Supp.3d 919, 925, italics in original.)

Second, the Court of Appeal turned to whether the Solar Panel contract constituted a “consumer credit contract” under the Rosenthal Act.

Turning to the second component of consumer debt, namely the reason for which the debt is alleged to be owing, the complaint alleges the outstanding monies were payments purportedly owed under the solar agreement. Pursuant to the solar agreement, Kilowatt agreed to install a solar panel system on the home, operate, maintain and repair it, and sell to the homeowner all electric energy produced by it. In exchange, the homeowner agreed to pay for all electricity produced and to use such electricity “primarily for personal, family or household purposes[.]” Pre-payment was not required, and each monthly payment was for past service (e.g., June bill was for electricity generated in May).  Given this structure, the solar agreement embodies a transaction in which services were acquired on credit primarily for personal, family, or household purposes—i.e., a consumer credit transaction. (See Davidson, supra, 21 Cal.App.5th at p. 296, 230 Cal.Rptr.3d 441 [concluding “on credit” as used in Rosenthal Act means “obtaining something of value without immediate payment on the promise to make a payment or payments in the future”]; Merriam-Webster Dict. Online (2023) <> [as of June 7, 2023] [defining “credit” as “the provision of money, goods, or services with the expectation of future payment”].) Once again, it is irrelevant all money due under the solar agreement was already paid. And it is equally irrelevant that plaintiff was not a party to the solar agreement. The focus is what defendant’s debt collection practices said about the supposed debt, namely that it was due and owing under the solar agreement.