Convicted Galway thief’s solar energy scam leaves dozens out of pocket

A convicted thief who runs a solar energy company has taken thousands of dollars in bails from dozens of customers and failed to install the promised equipment.

alwayman Padraic Maloney is the owner of the UK based company Hibernia Solar Energy.

Gardaí are investigating complaints from a long list of clients, some with up to €16,000 out of pocket.

Maloney, 56, of Rahoon, was convicted of triple larceny in February 2012 and sentenced to two years in prison with 12 months suspended.

He had been charged in connection with stealing nearly €40,000 in cash from a man’s home five times over the course of seven months in 2008 and 2009.

Maloney founded Hibernia Solar Energy, which specializes in installing solar panels in customers’ homes.

Veterinarian Marc Cronin, a father of four from near Kinnegad, Co. Westmeath, is waiting for his money from Maloney.

“In September we started talking about getting solar panels as a family and we looked online and sent inquiries to several companies, some came back and some didn’t,” explains Marc.

“We then got in touch with Padraic because he responded and quoted prices ahead of a site visit.”


Mark Cronin pictured at his home in Ballyhaw in Co Westmeath

Marc agreed to pay Maloney a deposit of €6,900 — 50 percent of the €13,800 total cost of the installation.

Maloney visited Marc’s house in January.

“I had sent him several emails asking if his company was really legit because I hadn’t heard anything about it,” Marc recalls.

“He arrived in a shiny suit from the airport in a rental car. He seemed like an easygoing guy and said he was from Galway and living in the UK.

“He said he’s having trouble finding installers because the company doesn’t have staff on the tech side.”

Marc said Maloney also told him he had become a professional snooker player and that his family once owned a snooker hall in Galway.

“He was a great salesman, full of conversation,” said Marc.

Marc and his wife Olivia own an electric car and also run a geothermal ground source heat pump that extracts heat from the ground and uses it to heat their dormer house. The pump requires electricity to operate.

They wanted to place about 12 solar panels on their roof, which wouldn’t have been enough for their plans, so they wanted to add another 25 panels on a lot next to their house.

Marc said Maloney’s company is registered with the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) and there has been a grant of up to €3,000 to install solar panels.

“Padraic told me it could be early February before it could be installed,” Marc recalls.

“After two weeks in February I kept getting excuses from him. Then we got an appointment for March 15th. I was supposed to get a mini excavator to dig a trench for an electrical cable because he didn’t have it. I tried to get a definite answer – did it come?

“Then he said a couple of times he needed to speak to the plumber. I had the phone number of the plumber who was down in Wexford and he said he had been duped. So we read Padraic the Riot Act and he said he would do it in two weeks and the same thing happened.”

Then, in March, Maloney offered a “significant price reduction” if Marc were to reschedule the installment plan.

“I said I didn’t want to do business with him anymore and wanted my money back, which he promised [give]’ adds Mark.

Marc was given March 29 as the date but no money was transferred.

“The last email was May 5th and he told me he had been assured the money had been sent but I told him I hadn’t received anything,” says Marc.

“I’ve tried to contact him several times since then, but he ignored me. There was a nice girl in his office that I dealt with, but she also stopped taking calls and emails.”

Marc said Maloney’s company has done installations in other locations across the country.

“Either he’s a very unlucky and bad businessman, or he’s got a very clever scam where he starts a business with high demand for solar needs, installs some solar panels so he can say to potential customers, ‘Call this guy here, me ‘ did its installation.

“I did that…that kind or calm down and you give the deposit.

“I know four people who had an installation from him, but I know 28 people who are now demanding money back.”

Marc has since hired another company to install his solar panels in late May.

He said Gardaí informed him the complaints were now being investigated.

The Sunday World contacted Maloney’s UK mobile number, which goes to voicemail. He read a WhatsApp message we sent him but he didn’t reply.

SEAI said in a statement: “Enterprises operating under SEAI schemes are registered on the basis of tax and insurance compliance and obligation to install works in accordance with relevant technical standards.

“SEAI is aware of issues with a particular solar PV company related to down payments. Upon learning of these complaints, the company was deactivated on our register and currently remains dormant.

“In terms of security deposits being paid, this is a contractual matter between the individual homeowners and the company. SEAI advises all applicants to enter into a contract with their contractor to ensure an adequate level of consumer protection should this be required.” Convicted Galway thief’s solar energy scam leaves dozens out of pocket

Fry Electronics Team

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