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Conduct code to weed out dodgy solar panel retailers

Written by Benjamin Preiss / The Age / 21 March 2019

Main image: Solar panel retailers will have to sign a code of conduct to participate in a state government scheme to put panels on Victorian households. CREDIT: GLENN HUNT

Solar panel retailers will have to sign up to a code of conduct to prevent dodgy operators joining a state government scheme to provide panels to 700,000 households.

The code of conduct will set safety and consumer protection requirements for large and small solar retailers.

Before the November election, the Andrews government promised to install half-price solar panels on the roofs of eligible Victorian households.

It also promised solar hot water rebates and batteries for some households that were ineligible for the half-price panels.

However, the government’s Solar Homes program has prompted concerns that unscrupulous retailers may seek to exploit the scheme by providing shoddy service.

Large retailers will have to join the Clean Energy Council’s solar retailer code of conduct from July this year if they wish to continue participating in the scheme.

Smaller retailers will have until November to comply with the code, which extends to advertising and pre-sale activities, the provision of a cooling-off period and adherence to warranties.

The code also requires retailers to take responsibility for work done by contractors.

So far, more than 30,000 households have applied to participate in the program across Victoria.

The penalties for breaching the code may include loss of Clean Energy Council approval or referral to other government agencies, including Consumer Affairs Victoria, WorkSafe and Energy Safe Victoria.

Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the government was making safety and quality the top priorities of the Solar Homes program.

“This code of conduct will make it easier for households to know what they’re entitled to and easier for retailers to do the right thing,” she said.

To be eligible for the government’s solar program, households must have a combined income no more than $180,000 and live in their own homes valued at up to $3 million.

The government extended its solar panel scheme to 50,000 rental properties in the lead-up to the November state election.

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