Tuesday, 02 July 2019 09:58

Victoria gets tough new laws governing home solar installation industry

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Victoria gets tough new laws governing home solar installation industry Image Ben Schonewille, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Solar Victoria’s tough new requirements for the state’s top 150 solar retailers came into force on Monday, with the regulations aimed at helping protect retail customers and ensure all installations are of a high standard.

And Solar Victoria says its state-wide safety and audit program is putting pressure on the fast-growing home solar installation industry to ensure installation teams are working safely and not putting workers and householders at risk.

Solar Victoria’s acting chief executive Jonathan Leake, said the body would take a risk-based approach to inspect up to 5% of all solar installations benefiting from Victorian Government rebates under the program.

In addition to the audit program, Solar Victoria says a proactive, unannounced inspection program during installation is being delivered by WorkSafe Victoria and Energy Safe Victoria.

{loadposition peter)According to Solar Victoria already over two thirds of the state’s solar retailers are now Clean Energy Council Approved Solar Retailers and ready to participate from today – while the Clean Energy Council has rejected 23 applications, with most already reapplying to ensure they meet the high standards.

“We’re holding solar retailers to the highest standards. Victorians want to be assured solar retailers will adhere to all legislation and regulations, and that sales representatives will act ethically, and honestly,” Solar Victoria acting chief executive Jonathan Leake said.

Under the regulations the Clean Energy Council requires solar retailers to:

  • provide a standard minimum five-year warranty on the operation and performance of the whole solar system including workmanship, products and documentation to confirm this;
  • provide information in writing to enable full education about a purchase before entering a contract;
  • Respect customers’ legal rights relating to cooling-off periods and refunds, and provide the opportunity for customers to cancel a contract and obtain a full refund if changes are made that are not approved in writing;
  • address any problems arising during the warranty period;
  • be fully accountable for the actions of any subcontracted parties, including CEC-accredited installers/designers; and
  • maintain a fair and transparent complaints process, and respond to customers within 21 days of a complaint being made.

Leake said companies not prepared to abide by those requirements would not be accredited and could not be part of the Solar Homes program.

“This is part of a suite of requirements designed to ensure Victoria’s booming solar industry delivers quality service at the point of sale, during and following installation.

“Committing sales staff, their employers, and installers to high standards will ensure consumers get a better outcome, and support the quality businesses that do the right thing.

“In a very competitive market, our objective is to protect consumers from those who prey on people with little knowledge or experience with solar.”

Under the new requirements, lower volume solar retailers are required to gain accreditation as CEC Approved Solar Retailers by 1 November.

Leake said Solar Victoria was on the lookout for “dodgy behaviour” by solar salespeople and installers, referring them to Consumer Affairs Victoria and the Clean Energy Council.

“Solar Victoria is committed to delivering a quality program and to do that we must ensure solar retailers understand what is required of them.

“We have referred 19 businesses to Consumer Affairs Victoria for investigation. These include online operations that have no commercial substance, but which make spurious claims and generate leads for other businesses.

“Lifting standards will establish a level playing field for all companies and add to the work already being done with Energy Safe Victoria, WorkSafe, the Victorian Building Authority, Essential Services Commission and Consumer Affairs Victoria.”

Solar Victoria says all solar retailers that are not yet signatories are encouraged to apply for approval now.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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