A Victorian rooftop solar retailer has been scratched from the list of businesses allowed to access the state’s Solar Homes rebate, after being caught using unlicensed electrical workers and allegedly installing rooftop systems in an unsafe manner.
State energy minister Lily D’Ambrosio said on Wednesday in a statement that Community Energy Group Pty Ltd, trading as Space Solar (Victoria), had been banned from participating in the scheme for at least two years.
The sole director of Community Energy Group has also had their electrical registration cancelled by Energy Safe Victoria, after further investigations found many of the installations – out of a total of 546 that received rebates under the Solar Homes program – had technical and safety defects.
The faults and breaches of solar safety standards were uncovered through audits and data collected by Solar Victoria, which requires all new rooftop solar systems to be independently tested at the time of installation, and to provide a certificate of electrical safety to demonstrate compliance.
D’Ambrosio said that while some of the defects uncovered in this case were “minor and easily fixed,” others were far more serious and demonstrated “a wilful disregard” for the state’s solar safety standards.
And the minister advised all customers of Community Energy Group to have its systems double-checked by an independent electrical safety inspector, a list of which can be found esv.vic.gov.au.
“Dodgy solar operators that put the safety of Victorians at risk have no place in the Solar Homes program, and we won’t hesitate to kick them out,” D’Ambrosio said.
“This kind of behaviour is totally unacceptable. Customers deserve to know their solar installations are completed to the highest standards and that’s why we have such a strict audit regime in the country.
“The majority of solar retailers and installers do the right thing – we’re acting to protect their reputation and uphold the standards of our world-leading solar industry.”
Solar Victoria said that customers of Community Energy Group that needed to take further action could contact Consumer Affairs to discuss their rights under Australian Consumer Law – and noted that the retailer is expected to cover all costs of any repair work.
Solar Victoria and ESV continue to work together to audit household solar systems on a risk basis, with more than 1,500 completed since the program began. ESV has also formed a renewable energy taskforce to inspect work completed by licensed electricians in the sector.