Victoria’s Labor government has announced a crack-down on “dodgy” solar installers in the state, through a boost to the number of inspectors employed to check and sign off on newly installed rooftop PV systems and the launch of a new specialised training program.
State energy minister Lily D’Ambrosio on Wednesday launched the new rooftop solar focused training program as part of a commitment to help maintain high standards in a market that is experiencing a sustained, government-subsidised boom through the state’s highly successful Solar Homes rebate.
D’Ambrosio said Solar Victoria, the Latrobe Valley-based agency tasked with rolling out the Solar Homes program, had released a request for tender to develop training modules to upskill electricians and provide a pathway for new Licensed Electrical Inspectors – the folk charged with inspecting all Victorian solar installations before they are first switched on.
The plans also involve Solar Victoria teaming up with Energy Safe Victoria (ESV) to host a series of roundtable discussions with industry stakeholders on how to attract new LEIs to the industry. ESV will also help develop the training and work on increasing technical support for installers and LEIs.
“Having more Licensed Electrical Inspectors will reduce the time it takes to get solar panels operating and boost the number of rebates flowing through the Labor government’s landmark Solar Homes program,” a statement said.
“We are making sure that safety is at the heart of how solar businesses operate in Victoria,” added D’Ambrosio. “These inspectors will ensure that Victoria leads the country in the safety of solar systems.”
Solar Victoria CEO Stan Krpan said LEIs were an important feature of the scheme’s solar safety framework, and the new training would lead to further improvements in safety and compliance.
The move to tighten up the checks and balances on the state’s rooftop solar market comes just days after the Consumer Action Law Centre called on Victoria’s government to ban solar cold-calling as part of its move to prohibit unsolicited sales of traditional energy.
“It’s now in the hands of government to reform the law to fill the holes in consumer protections… We are calling on the Victorian government to extend its remit and ban unsolicited sales of solar products, improve practices and ensure confidence in this booming industry,” the group said following the release of a report on the Australian Competition Tribunal’s failure to crack down on dodgy solar sales tactics.
Solar Victoria has already taken a number of steps to prevent “cowboy” operators from taking advantage of the Solar Homes scheme, including through a requirement that all installers employed through the scheme be accredited by the Clean Energy Council.
And in 2018, Solar Victoria enlisted the help of Consumer Affairs Victoria to help combat high-pressure sales tactics, inaccurate marketing and poor service as the scheme started to take off.
Other regulators, including WorkSafe, Energy Safe and the Victorian Building Authority were also brought in as part of a new taskforce to focus on safety and enforcing long standing OHS and electrical safety requirements.