Another solar installer has been caught out claiming to have installed or supervised the installation of more than a dozen rooftop PV systems under Australia’s Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme, while not actually in Australia.
The Clean Energy Regulator says the director of Pedley’s Electrical Services, Aaron Ware, had falsely received financial benefit for the installations, despite being overseas at the time.
A CER investigation found the Clean Energy Council accredited installer had submitted 13 false or misleading Small-scale Technology Certificate (STC) assignment forms along with certificates of electrical safety to agents, while being overseas.
This led to the improper creation of 1,637 STCs for the solar systems, for which the agents paid the installer in the order of $60,000.
Ware pleaded guilty to the charges in the Brisbane Magistrates Court and in early August was convicted and released on a 12-month good behaviour bond.
Piet Powell, general manager of the CER’s compliance branch, says the Magistrate for the case remarked on the serious and prevalent nature of the offending, spread over 14 months.
The regulator has increased its focus on rooftop solar compliance since the December 2021 tightening of the rules governing the federal small-scale solar rebate, including strict new conditions for the sale and installation of rooftop panels.
One of the biggest changes, as One Step Off The Grid has reported, has been to the documentation required from rooftop solar installers, designers, agents and retailers when making claims for STCs.
For designers and installers of rooftop solar systems, the new documentation includes a written compliance statement confirming all relevant design and install standards have been met according to the requirements of both the SRES scheme and local, state and territory rules.
Statements must also confirm that the installer has a copy of the design and the system was installed by the book, including the electrical work being done by a licenced electrician, using PV modules and inverters approved under the SRES scheme.
Further, accredited installers must provide evidence demonstrating they have physically installed or physically supervised the installation, such as time-stamped “selfie” photos of this in action, including during job set up, during mid-installation check-up, and during testing and commissioning.
Powell said this week that Ware’s offenses predate the integrity review, and so those who continue to falsely claim rebates can expect to face tougher consequences.
The new regulations also provide the CER with powers to disqualify installers and designers, retailers and component manufacturers from participating in the SRES.
“Those who now attempt to benefit from making false statements regarding STC eligibility can expect greater penalties than what Mr Ware received,” she said.
“We will continue to remove from the scheme those responsible for providing false and misleading information and, where appropriate, commence criminal prosecutions or civil penalty proceedings.
“The CER expects information provided to it to be accurate and has zero tolerance for deliberate non-compliance.”