Reforms to protect solar customers from dodgy operators

The federal government has launched a review into Australia’s rooftop solar sector, announcing a crack down on dodgy operators aimed at providing greater protection for consumers.

Spearheaded by the Clean Energy Regulator (CER), the review outlines 13 recommendations that tightens rules around the accreditation of solar installers and components from manufacturers, as well as unscrupulous behaviour from retailers.

The review comes after a whopping 378,451 rooftop solar systems were installed last year – one of the highest uptakes of solar in the world.

These reforms will improve the integrity of the solar photovoltaic (PV) sector by stamping out defective installations, misuse of accreditation details and quality concerns around certain products, Energy Minister Angus Taylor said.

“Australians are world leaders in the uptake of rooftop solar PV, and growth in the sector remains strong,” he said. “These reforms will ensure that those solar retailers, installers and manufacturers who are found to be doing the wrong thing are held to account.

“We will also empower consumers by providing them with the information they need to make informed choices about rooftop solar PV. Improving the regulatory framework will help put an end to the safety and quality risks plaguing the sector and help ensure the safe and successful rollout of solar PV in Australian homes and businesses into the future.”

The government has allocated $19.2 million to implement these reforms to the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES).

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Clean Energy Council (CEC) Chief Executive Kane Thornton welcomed the Clean Energy Regulator’s review, stating the recommendations to the SRES framework will restore market integrity through proper oversight.

“We welcome the greater role for the CER to leverage the compliance and enforcement tools of a Commonwealth agency to crack down on the worst behaviours in the industry. A more active approach to regulation and compliance from the Commonwealth Government is a good step forward and the industry looks forward to working closely with the CER to refine the regulatory framework for the sector,” he said.

“The solar industry has already begun acting on a number of these recommendations, including the requirement for installers to be on-site during installations, increased training and awareness about the expectations on installers.”

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Already have solar panels and looking to see what deals are available in your area? Click on your state below to see prices from a list of solar-specific plans, which usually include a higher-than-average feed-in tariff when compared to standard electricity plans in market.

Here are some of the cheapest solar-specific deals from the retailers on our database. These costs are based on the Ausgrid network in Sydney but prices will vary depending on your circumstances. We show one product per retailer, listed in order of lowest price first. Annual price estimates assume general energy usage of 3900kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Price estimates exclude solar feed-in tariff credits. These are products from referral partners†. Our database may not cover all deals in your area, and please check retailer websites for up to date information.

Here are some of the cheapest solar-specific deals from the retailers on our database. These costs are based on the Citipower network in Melbourne but prices will vary depending on your circumstances. We show one product per retailer, listed in order of lowest price first. Annual price estimates assume general energy usage of 4000kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Price estimates exclude solar feed-in tariff credits. These are products from referral partners†. Our database may not cover all deals in your area, and please check retailer websites for up to date information.

Here are some of the cheapest solar-specific deals from the retailers on our database. These costs are based on the Energex network in Brisbane but prices will vary depending on your circumstances. We show one product per retailer, listed in order of lowest price first. Annual price estimates assume general energy usage of 4600kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Price estimates exclude solar feed-in tariff credits. These are products from referral partners†. Our database may not cover all deals in your area, and please check retailer websites for up to date information.

Here are some of the cheapest solar-specific deals from the retailers on our database. These costs are based on SA Power network in Adelaide but prices will vary depending on your circumstances. We show one product per retailer, listed in order of lowest price first. Annual price estimates assume general energy usage of 4000kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Price estimates exclude solar feed-in tariff credits. These are products from referral partners†. Our database may not cover all deals in your area, and please check retailer websites for up to date information.

So, what are some of the key recommendations?

Here are some of the review’s key recommendations from the Clean Energy Regulator:

  • Giving the CER complete oversight and authority to set eligibility requirements for installer accreditation schemes and the listing of approved solar components.
  • Introducing new reporting requirements for installers, solar retailers and manufacturers.
  • Giving the CER more power to monitor and enforce compliance within the solar sector.
  • Promoting better outcomes for consumers with new legal obligations for solar retailers.
  • Developing consumer information to help customers navigate the rooftop solar PV sector and avoid dishonest operators, empowering consumers with the details they need to make informed choices about a solar system.

Consultation on the process of implementing these recommendations in the review is expected to take place in late 2021.

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Image credit: anatoliy_gleb/Shutterstock.com

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