Improvements in consumer protection for solar welcome, but more needed

The Clean Energy Regulator (CER) review into rooftop solar makes some important proposals improve accountability for solar retailers, but for the new rules to really be effective, reform needs to go further.

Of the 13 proposals made by the CER in its review 12 have been accepted by the Federal Government which is providing $19.2 million to implement the recommendations.

“Solar not only helps people save money on electricity but is a key contributor towards a zero-carbon future. That’s why we need robust consumer protections and more accountability on solar retailers—it’s such an important purchase,” said Gerard Brody, CEO Consumer Action.

“The proposals to improve accountability of solar retailers, and have them removed from accessing the small-scale renewable energy scheme where they are found to be doing the wrong thing, is a good step”, said Mr Brody

Consumer Action Law Centre’s 2019 report, Sunny-Side Up , recommended for solar retailers to be given legal responsibility to ensure solar panels are properly connected to the grid and are generating electricity.

“The CER recommendation to improve accountability for solar retailers, accepted by the Federal Government, is aligned with our recommendation”, said Mr Brody.

“But what’s needed urgently is improved access to dispute resolution, through energy ombudsman schemes, so that people who have problems are able to resolve them both quickly and fairly.

“The report should also have gone further on improving the fairness of finance arrangements for solar, like Buy Now Pay Later, as we continue to see harm from these unregulated products. What’s needed is for all finance arrangements to be regulated by the National Credit Law, so people are not disadvantaged by inconsistent legal protections”.

The CER review followed the publication of Consumer Action’s Sunny Side Up report, which laid out a pathway for strengthening consumer protection regime for solar panels. Several of its recommendations have been implemented, including a prohibition on door-to-door selling of solar through the Victorian Solar Homes scheme from 1 September 2021.

Consumer Action’s submission to the CER review can be found here.

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Media contact: Mark Pearce, Media and Communications Adviser, 0413 299 567, media@consumeraction.org.au

 

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