Arron Wood

Sustainable Business and Education Leader

A Better Retail Solar Industry

So how do we drive even better standards for the retail solar industry?  It's good that consumers are informed (see previous blog), but we also need an informed and reputable industry.  Just like any sector it's helpful to have accreditation.  It means the majority of providers who are doing the right thing aren't disadvantaged by the 1 or 2 cowboys that are more interested in the quick dollar.

That's why it's fantastic to see the Clean Energy Council (CEC) Solar Retailer Code of Conduct, which is referred to in the aforementioned consumer guide.  The CEC has put considerable resources into bringing the Code to the attention of solar retailers themselves and to all levels of government and other procurement bodies, many of whom now offer tender opportunities exclusively to Code signatories.  The focus of the CEC is now turning to raising consumer awareness - you and me! They have a goal for consumers to ask the solar company they’re dealing with, whether it is a CEC Approved Solar Retailer. So note that question in your head and make your first question: "Are you a CEC Approved Solar Retailer?"

The CEC initiated this program at the request of their solar members and to support their own efforts to raise standards in the solar industry. An industry with high standards is good for everyone! The Solar Retailer Code of Conduct is a voluntary code of conduct for PV retailers of all sizes.  It’s the only solar industry code of conduct authorised by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.  Last year the ACCC authorised new provisions that add consumer finance protections to the Code, which make it relevant to innovative pricing models for solar.

The Clean Energy Council administers the Code.  An independent Code Review Panel oversees the administration, provides direction for development of the Code and hears appeals of decisions made the Code Administrator.

The CEC currently lists 36 approved Solar Retailers This is a great list to look at if you're considering a solar purchase in future.

The Code makes the process of buying solar simpler and safer for consumers by enabling them to choose from a list of solar retailers who have been through a rigorous screening process by the CEC. The Code aims to ensure that retailers are fully accountable for the actions of sub-contracted parties, so every aspect of the solar purchasing experience is guaranteed. Approved Solar Retailers:

·         provide a five-year whole-of-system warranty is provided on all solar PV systems

·         use only CEC-accredited designers and installers

·         provide honest and accurate information about the best system for your home or business, based on site-specific system design and performance estimate

·         properly advise their customers on grid connection procedures

·         ensure their customers receive essential information when they buy their PV system using a finance arrangement.

Useful links: Code of Conduct document which details solar retailers’ obligations, breaches, how breaches are investigated and sanctioned, and the administration processes of the Code.

Application Form Details fees, indicates how CEC assesses applicants, including background checks on financial status, personnel history, documented complaints procedure, warranties and advertising material. CEC reviews contract terms and conditions of each applicant and approves only those that comply with Australian Consumer Law and this code of conduct.

So it's nice and simple - to any solar business, get accredited and to any potential customer, ask the question!!! Are you a CEC Approved Solar Retailer?