Rooftop solar and home battery installers operating in Victoria will have to be registered as New Energy Tech (NET) Approved Sellers to participate in the state’s rebate schemes, according to new rules announced this week.
Solar Victoria, the body that oversees the state’s rooftop solar, battery storage, energy efficiency and electric vehicle subsidy schemes, said on Wednesday that it was replacing its existing mandatory requirement for participants to be a signatory to the Solar Retailer Code with the New Energy Tech Consumer Code (NETCC).
The NETCC, developed in 2020 at the request of energy ministers, is a set of service standards and consumer protections required of retailers and service providers of new energy technology, including rooftop solar, home batteries, electric vehicle chargers, and more.
As of February this year, the NETCC has replaced the Clean Energy Council’s Solar Retailer Code, with all Approved Solar Retailers automatically becoming New Energy Tech Approved Sellers (NET Sellers).
This week, Solar Victoria announced that participants in the state government-run solar, battery and energy efficiency rebate schemes must now be compliant under the NETCC, too, in place of the ASR.
The NETCC program is governed by peak industry and consumer bodies, administered by the Clean Energy Council and reviewed by industry and consumer experts.
New signatories to the NETCC undergo a stringent application process and are subject to a monitoring, compliance, and sanctions regime.
Approved NET Sellers can be audited to ensure they are sticking to the rules, and customer complaints of alleged non-compliance will be investigated.
Existing Approved Solar Retailers are automatically transferred to the new code, including more than 1,000 Victorian retailers who will be able to continue to participate in Solar Homes.
For current participants in Victoria’s Solar Homes scheme, continuing to meet the NETCC standards shouldn’t be too much of a change to the status quo.
The state government had already put in place a number of checks and balances as part of its Solar Homes rebate scheme, which offers heavily discounted rooftop PV and solar battery systems to eligible households.
Just to access the Victorian scheme, for example, households have to engage a Clean Energy Council accredited installer. And since 2021, the Labor government has been phasing in a ban on door-to-door sales of solar products.
“Providing the highest possible consumer protections is important for the integrity of Solar Victoria’s programs, the ongoing development of the solar industry and the confidence of our customers,” said Solar Victoria CEO Stan Krpan on Wednesday.
“We have been clear on the need to protect consumers since Solar Homes began and first mandated a Code of Practice in 2019.
“Strengthened requirements related to quoting practices, marketing buy now pay later offers and expanded information on system operations and measures to ensure the installation of fit-for-purpose systems are core to the Code.”
“[The code] builds on existing protections and broadens them to home batteries and will grow over time to cover emerging new technologies such as smart car chargers. It is important that consumer protections keep up with these innovations.”
While administered by the CEC, the NETCC was initially approved by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and is governed by an independent council of industry and consumer bodies including Energy Consumers Australia, Consumer Action Law Centre and Energy Networks Australia.
Solar Victoria says it will closely monitor and review the implementation of the new scheme and work closely with the NETCC Council, CEC and our Industry and Consumer Reference Group to ensure a smooth transition.
The body is also giving Solar Homes participants some extra time to make any necessary compliance updates for the first six months of the NETCC, up to August 2023.