A Canberra-based solar installer has been fined and had its Clean Energy Council accreditation cancelled for a year after being convicted of providing false or misleading documents in the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme.
The Clean Energy Regulator says the B and J Finnigan Pty Ltd (trading as A1 Electrical) was found to have submitted compliance paperwork that falsely recorded sole director Bradley Finnigan as the responsible installer of solar systems despite him being overseas at the time.
CER general manager of compliance, Piet Powell, said the actions – a total of 14 different acts of fraudulent behaviour between March and July 2019 – represented a clear regulatory breach.
“The company provided Small-scale Technology Certificate (STC) assignment forms to an agent who then relied on that information to create 429 STCs valued at over $15,000.
“Each STC assignment form falsely recorded Bradley Finnigan as the responsible CEC accredited installer, despite him being overseas and entirely incapable of doing so.
“We expect all information provided to us to be true and correct, and we have zero tolerance for wilful fraud or non-compliance.”
Powell says compliance is a top priority for the regulator, particularly 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.
Among the key changes to the rules, which came into play in April of this year, is a requirement for rooftop PV installers to prove they were on site during the installation, using evidence such as a photograph with time and date metadata or geo-location data.
The new rule aims to ensure that the accredited installer responsible for the installation of the PV system is on site for the majority of the job, and to avoid situations such with A1 Electrical where, far from than supervising the install, the accredited person was not even in the country.
“The Clean Energy Regulator is committed to ensuring businesses and consumers can have confidence in Australia’s solar industry,” said Powell in a statement on Friday.
“Solar industry participants are reminded that any fraudulent behaviour is treated seriously and may face criminal, civil or administrative action.”