An electrical company is facing criminal charges after a Clean Energy Regulator investigation found it had provided false information relating to the installation of rooftop solar systems.
RenewEconomy understands the matter appeared before the ACT Magistrates Court on Thursday, and was adjourned to appear again in mid April.
The Clean Energy Regulator refused to confirm the identity of the company subject to the allegations, but said that the matter had been referred to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions, which is prosecuting the matter.
In a statement, the Regulator said that it had alleged the company provided false or misleading documents to an agent under the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme, on more than a dozen occasions relating to rooftop solar installations.
That agent that then relied on that misleading or false information to claim Small-scale Technology Certificates.
“On 14 occasions between March 2019 and July 2019, the company provided Small-scale Technology Certificate (STC) assignment forms to an agent who then relied on that information to create certificates. It is alleged that each STC assignment form contained false information relating to the identity of the installer of the solar PV systems,” the regulator said.
The regulator has imposed a number of ‘enforceable undertakings’ on agents that have been found to have used incorrect information to claim STCs.
In such cases, the regulator has generally required the agents to voluntarily relinquish an equivalent number of STCs, and commit to rectifying any outstanding compliance issues.
“The Clean Energy Regulator expects information provided to it to be true and correct, has zero tolerance for wilful fraud or non-compliance and will take enforcement action where that is warranted under our Compliance, Education and Enforcement Policy,” the regulator added.
The regulator also pointed to newly amended regulations that allows it to effectively disqualify solar installers, designers and retailers from participating in the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme.
The Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme provides a financial incentive for the installation of rooftop solar, solar hot water and heat pump systems, generally passed through as an upfront discount for the customer.
Disqualification from the scheme would mean installers would not be able to offer such discounts, often worth thousands of dollars.
It’s not the first time an installer has faced a potential criminal penalty for attempting to defraud the renewable energy scheme.
In 2019, a Queensland plumber who falsely claimed to have installed more than 400 solar heat pumps – obtaining more than $400,000 worth of STCs – was sentenced to four-and-a-half years jail.