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“Unaccredited” rooftop solar installer nabbed by Clean Energy Regulator

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The Clean Energy Regulator’s crack-down on the rules governing Australia’s rooftop solar market continues, with new action taken against an “unaccredited” rooftop solar installer and “unlicensed electrician,” found to have submitted false documentation to various Renewable Energy Certificate agents.

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The installer is alleged to have provided false and misleading information to a second person, that resulted in the creation of small-scale technology certificates (STCs) for 29 installations that they were not entitled to create.

The CER said t had agreed to an enforceable undertaking – to be completed on or before 30 September 2017 – to identify all PV systems installed in breach of the Renewable Electricity Act, to have them inspected by a Clean Energy Council-accredited installer, and to replace, or repair those PV systems, as needed.

The new CER action follows the revelation, earlier this month, that Australia’s biggest solar retailer was being force to replace non-compliant solar panels.

As we reported here, Euro Solar was forced by the Clean Energy Regulator to surrender small-scale technology certificates (STCs) or replace modules after being found to have installed non-compliant solar panels.

P & N NSW Pty Ltd, which trades as Euro Solar, was found by the CER to have claimed STCs from non-compliant panels on 10 different rooftop solar installations, amounting to 1,058 STCs worth around $40,000.

The company was asked by the Regulator to validate serial numbers on solar modules for a further 78 installations within 12 months, and for a further 100 installations within 18 months. All the installations have been identified by the CER.

As the CER said at that time, “enforceable undertakings” such as these could be sought in cases to prevent or address serious non-compliance.

“Enforceable undertakings are written statements from a person or organisation that they will do, or refrain from doing, certain things in order to resolve detected contraventions or improve compliance with the legislation,” it said.

The intervention comes amid growing concerns within the rooftop solar industry about the standards and behaviours of some installers, the quality of some merchandise imported – such as solar panels and inverters – and the need for an awareness program for consumers, as Australia’s rush to rooftop solar continues.

“The Clean Energy Regulator takes fraud and deliberate non-compliance seriously and takes necessary action to ensure the integrity of the scheme,” the CER said in an August 9 statement.

“SRES participants who are involved in the installation of unapproved panels will be subject to enforcement action by the Clean Energy Regulator. (SRES is the small-scale renewable energy scheme which governs rooftop solar installations up to 100kW).

“We have a broad range of compliance and enforcement options, including suspension of registration and REC Registry accounts, enforceable undertakings and criminal or civil proceedings.”

The CER has also partnered with the solar industry and peak bodies to allow consumers, along with installers and retailers, to use a new Solar Panel Validation Pilot to check the validity of solar panels.

Participating manufacturers will provide serial number data that will allow installers, retailers and consumers to validate panels.

The CER says STCs created using validated panel data will deliver a higher level of confidence to the Clean Energy Regulator. STCs created without validated data will be examined more closely under our compliance processes and if found to be unapproved subject to enforcement action.

  

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  • trackdaze

    Good news of sorts. Whilst it’s important for consumer to do some due diligence Audits also need to occur regularly to ensure the risk is greater than the rewards of non compliance with standards.

    • john

      Mate the average person has no clue.

      • trackdaze

        Fair point succinctly made.

        Statistically speaking though the average is a mix of those that have a good understanding and those that think that solar issum kinda voodoo. I’d hope the ones in the middle (median)have half a clue and can sniff out the snake oil.

      • solarguy

        All any punter has to do is to go to the CEC website to check the installer.

        • Daniel Boon

          means nothing … Matthew Puchala of Elite Electrical (Sunshine Coast) had half a million $ of faulty workmanship and the CEC ‘protected him’

          • solarguy

            How exactly did they do that?

          • Daniel Boon

            we paid for an inspection (4, done by a CEC Inspector), he notified the CEC about the jobs, they wil rpovide no details about what they would do … in litigation with the installer, I actually have to subpoena the CEC to provide documentation to the Court … and at the last Court hearing, the installer just let hi accreditation ‘lapse’ …

          • solarguy

            The CEC don’t litigate installers, but the will revoke accreditation so no company will give him work. I hope you do well in court.

            BTW what did he do wrong on your job?

          • Daniel Boon

            I know they don’t, but they are slow to act on dodgy installers; first job (that we took legal action on), the electricity authority came to switch power off to the business site (employ 15 staff), that was the catalyst for three more inspections, all found to use inferior components (panels and inverters OK, we supplied) and not following the CEC installers guidelines, involving 186kW with unhappy Customers, STC’s held up ….

          • solarguy

            Sorry to hear you are going through this mate…. hope you get a good result in court.

  • wholisticguy

    The “Enforceable Undertaking” doesn’t seem like much of a dis-incentive to prevent people rorting the system. If (and only if) you get caught, you just need to pay back the ill-gotten gains. Seems a bit weak, why aren’t they treated with the same severity as a $40,000 fraud?

    • john

      Just remember that is going to cost the company which will be in bankrupt situation about 5 times that figure as they have to replace every installation that they did so multiply the $40k by about 10 or so

    • Daniel Boon

      from my dealings with the CEC, the system is protective not of the Customers, but the ‘rights’ of the ‘accredited installers’ who knowingly do poor work and use inferior materials … and get away with it ..

  • john

    I so remember so well telling a person who purchased a system from the above,
    “which part about the fine on the web site did you not see?”
    His answer ” I took no notice of that”
    This was a enforceable requirement from the government.
    The said person took no notice.
    We obviously live in the age of the idiot.

    How is it possible to stop P & N NSW Pty Ltd or what other identity they decide to register as going to be stopped.?

  • Malthus Anderson

    Solar thermal is a big step forward but how do we prevent hundreds of birds, especially swallows, from being killed by the intense heat as it is directed from hundreds or thousands of mirrors to the central tower?

    • Chris Fraser

      Wrong thread ! Please try again …

    • Greg Hudson

      You’ve counted the number of swallows at the proposed site I suppose ?
      Yes, I know it’s the wrong thread 😉

  • solarguy

    Get these bastards out of the market. I loose business to cheap companies who use guys like this and who use shit panels, shit inverters and do horrible installs. But alas the punter doesn’t know, they just see a bargain and go for it like a moth to flame. Bloody sick of it. If any new to the business CEC accredited installer works for these cheap companies, I say beware and charge what the job is worth. Don’t let them dictate what they will pay you. You name your price, because it will only come back to bite you on the arse.

  • Kyle

    Shysters, shysters everywhere.

  • Daniel Boon

    Matthew Puchala, tradings as Elite Electrical on the Sunshine Coast, is another solar installation cowboy