Bad For Consumers & Bad For Business: CEC Approved Solar Retailer Scheme Now Mandatory In Victoria

Mandatory Approved Solar Retailer Scheme

Last week the Clean Energy Council announced their formerly voluntary Approved Solar Retailer Scheme would be — with the smallest of fig leafs — made mandatory for all companies installing residential rooftop solar power systems in Victoria. This means installers are faced with joining the scheme — if they can — or going out of business or moving out of state.

Large installers with a presence in multiple states may be able to survive without Victorian sales, but many small local installers are likely to see their businesses destroyed if they are one of the 40% of companies knocked back from joining the scheme1.

Making the Approved Retailer status effectively mandatory is a betrayal of trust by the Approved Retailer Scheme (and also the Clean Energy Council as a whole, because mud sticks).  It is a terrible thing to do because:

  • It is unfair as solar installers who have done nothing wrong are in danger of losing their livelihoods.  Especially small local installers.
  • It is anti-market because it reduces competition and consumer freedom of choice, and introduces barriers to entry in the residential solar installation market.
  • It creates unnecessary risk for the solar industry in Victoria by giving too much power to the Approved Solar Retailer Scheme.  For example, a large installer was recently kicked out over a minor breach of the code of conduct2 that had nothing to do with the quality of their installations.
  • It is anti-consumer as it will increase the cost of solar power for Victorians and increase wait times.
  • It is anti-environmental as increased prices will result in less solar in total being installed, causing higher pollution and greenhouse gas emissions than would otherwise occur.
  • It sets a bad example for Australia.  Other trade groups may now lobby to force you to buy air conditioners, stoves, cars, laptops and carrots from approved retailers.
  • It appears to be pro-entrenched interests.

Finn wrote about the possibility of this happening two weeks ago and I’m writing about it now because it’s important.  When an obvious communist like me, who is clearly a clone of Karl Marx, starts worrying that something is anti-market and anti-business you know things are serious.

karl Brarx

Karl Marx or Karl Brarx?

What Is A CEC Approved Retailer?

All solar installers are CEC Accredited, which means they are qualified to safely install solar.  This is not voluntary as an installer has to be CEC Accredited to install solar power systems that are permitted to be connected to the grid.

A CEC Approved Solar Retailer is different from being CEC Accredited.  It is — or was — voluntary and you can read about the difference between the two here.  If a company decided to join, and the CEC Approved Retailer Scheme accepted their application, they would have to:

  • Sign a code of conduct.
  • Adhere to the code of conduct.
  • Pay fees based on the size of the company.
  • Do the paperwork required to show compliance with required procedures and policies.
  • Stick to industry best practice and not screw up.

This is not easy to do, but companies that became CEC Approved Solar Retailers could present their status as evidence they do quality work and homeowners were free to decide whether or not to buy from them as they saw fit.

Being an approved retailer allowed installers to charge a premium over the competition.  This was important because otherwise there wouldn’t be much point in going through all that effort from a business point of view.  But this advantage will disappear if everyone in the state is forced to become an Approved Retailer, as there will be no competition from installers who aren’t in the scheme.  Making it compulsory will destroy the value of the scheme to installers.

What Is Happening In Victoria?

From the 1st of November this year all installers must be CEC Approved Solar Retailers for their systems to receive the up to $2,2253 Victorian Solar Homes Package rebate and large installers will have to be members by the 1st of July.

Approved Solar Retailer and the Victorian Solar Homes Package rebate.

A section of the latest CEC Approved Solar Retailer update.

It Is Effectively Mandatory

I want to make it clear being an Approved Retailer will effectively become mandatory in Victoria.  There is no way it can honestly be described as voluntary.  If someone claims it is they are either a liar or don’t understand how business works.  Either way, they don’t deserve your attention.  Stating that being an Approved Solar Retailer is voluntary because installers can “voluntarily” decide to go out of business by not joining is absurd.4

If you had a choice between two products that were — as far as you could tell — identical and around the same price, which would you choose?  The one that would give you no rebate or the one that would give you a $2,225 dollar rebate?  Obviously, you’d have to have a hole in your head large enough to put your hand in to search for your missing brain if you decided to go with the no rebate option.  This is the situation residential solar installers that aren’t Approved Solar Retailers will be in before the year is out in Victoria.

At the moment it is possible to have a decent quality solar power system installed for around $1,000 per kilowatt.  In Victoria the most commonly installed solar systems are 5-6 kilowatts in size.  So for a 5 kilowatt system the rebate will almost halve the cost to a household:

Estimated cost of a 5kW solar power system - Victoria

Obviously, no one is going to choose an installer whose system will end up costing them around 40% more. I would say that anyone who thinks becoming an Approved Solar Retailer in Victoria is voluntary is nuttier than a chipmunk’s cheek pouches in a pecan packing plant, but that would be funny and this isn’t funny.  People’s livelihoods are at risk because through no fault of their own.

An Unknown Number Of Installers Will Lose Their Businesses

Victorian installers that aren’t currently Approved Solar Retailers will have no choice other than apply to become one if they wish to continue to do businesses in the state.  Assuming they attempt to join rather than leave the business or leave the state, it’s not possible to know how many applicants will be successful.  The Approved Retailer Scheme says they reject 40% of first time applicants who voluntarily decide to join.  With everyone who wants to install residential systems in the state having to apply, I don’t know how many will be knocked back.  Unless the Approved Solar Retailer Scheme lowers its standards it’s possible half the installers in the state who aren’t currently members of the scheme will be rejected and driven out of business.  And if standards are lowered the scheme becomes pointless.

The solar installers most likely to be driven out are those who hate paperwork and have a low tolerance for bullshit.  This probably includes those annoying “salt-of-the-earth” types who would much prefer to spend their time up on a roof installing panels rather than crouched behind a desk daintily trying to tap away at keys with fingers the size of sausages.  I expect rural areas, where it can already be hard to find installers, will be hit hardest.

One Mistake Can Cost Approved Retailers Their Business

Making membership effectively mandatory gives too much power to the Approved Solar Retailer Scheme because they can kick out members for making a single mistake.  A large installation company who received high customer satisfaction ratings was recently kicked out for failing to give a customer all the paperwork the Approved Solar Retailer code of conduct required.  I’m not going to comment on whether this was fair or not, but when the scheme was voluntary getting kicked out wouldn’t completely destroy a local business or cripple an interstate one.

While it is possible to be kicked out for making one mistake there are also Approved Solar Retailers who have broken their code of conduct on multiple occasions while remaining in the scheme.  This may be due to incompetence on the part of the Approved Retailer Scheme rather than maleficence, but this is not a good sign that the scheme can be trusted with more power.

Making The Scheme Mandatory Creates Consumer Risk

One of the benefits of buying from an Approved Solar Retailer was a homeowner could be more confident the installer would not go bust and leave them without support.  But by creating a situation where an installer will be unable to remain in business if they lose their Approved Retailer status, then the Scheme has just added a new level of consumer risk to buying solar power systems.

It Will Increase The Cost Of Solar Power For Victorians

There is currently a huge demand for solar power in Victoria because their rebate makes it such a great deal.  If the supply of installers is decreased, the price will inevitably go up.  That’s called supply and demand.  It’s possible you don’t think it’s all it’s cracked up to be, but the Victorian Government believes in it and has provided funding to train more solar installers to help meet demand.  This means they’re helping increase supply with one hand, but by insisting only installations by Approved Solar Retailers are eligible for the rebate they are reducing supply with the other.

Restricting supply by reducing the number of retailers will also reduce competition.  This is something that is also not supposed to be good for prices.

There are costs to becoming an Approved Solar Retailer that will be passed on.  There’s a $200 fee just to apply and yearly dues from $600 to $6,000 depending on the size of the company.  But the largest cost is probably the additional paperwork and manpower required to comply with the code of conduct and keep the Approved Retailer Scheme happy.  Time is money and these costs will be passed on to customers.  When it was a voluntary scheme, homeowners could decide for themselves if it was worth paying a premium for an Approved Solar Retailer but soon this will no longer be an option in Victoria.

Because the Approved Solar Retailer Scheme can kick members out and destroy their ability to operate in an entire state, that’s an extra risk that will have to be priced in and will raise costs.  If I ran a financial institution I would now be more cautious about lending money to a solar company.  This would apply to all of Australia because of the risk of Approved Solar Retailer status being made mandatory in other states.

It Is Bad For The Environment

In addition to having to pay more, the reduced supply of installers means Victorians will have to wait longer to get their systems installed.  This will result in them losing money from the delay before getting the benefit of reduced electricity bills.  The higher cost will also result in less solar power being installed in total.  So between the decreased capacity and delays in installation, fossil fuel pollution and greenhouse gas emissions will be greater than they would be otherwise.

It Is Unjustified

The justification given for making the Approved Solar Retailer Scheme mandatory in Victoria is consumers will benefit.  At the moment I think there is benefit in buying from an Approved Retailer — although this has been eroded over time as examples of the scheme doing nothing about Approved Retailers who break the scheme’s code of conduct have multiplied.  Despite this, being an approved retailer is still a probable indicator of quality.  But the benefit that remains is not by itself sufficient justification to make the scheme effectively mandatory.  For it to be worthwhile the benefits to Victoria would have to be greater than:

  • The costs of solar companies driven out of business.
  • The costs to home owners from the reduced supply of installers.
  • The costs to home owners from reduced competition.
  • The costs passed on to home owners from complying with the Approved Solar Retailer Scheme.
  • The costs from increased risk to the solar industry.
  • The cost of the new consumer risk from installers going bust when kicked out of the scheme.
  • The costs of delays in installation.
  • The costs to the environment from reduced solar installation.

Perhaps the Approved Solar Retailer Scheme can produce a reasonable estimate of these costs and a reasonable estimate of how much Victorians will benefit from making the scheme mandatory and make a good argument the benefits outweigh the costs, but I’m sure it will be impossible for them to do that.  The fact they haven’t even tried is a bit of a give away.

But even if — according to their own calculations — they can show there is a net benefit to Victorians, this is not enough.  They would also have to show this benefit couldn’t be obtained at lower cost by other means.  Victorians already have multiple levels of protection that include:

  • Australian Consumer Law.
  • Random inspections of solar systems at the national level.
  • Compulsory inspections of every solar power system installed in Victoria.

I won’t go into how these protect Australians or how very basic changes could improve them, as I want to finish this article before lunch because I have cows to shear and sheep to punch.  But anyone who claims the choice is between making the Approved Solar Retailer Scheme compulsory or inadequate consumer protection is presenting a false choice that does not reflect reality.

It’s A Bad Example For The Country

If it actually is a good idea to force Victorians to only buy solar power systems from Approved Retailers then why on earth should we stop there?  If it’s good for solar then wouldn’t it also be a good idea to force everyone to buy air conditioners, stoves, laptops, cars, and carrots from Approved Retailers?

The reason we don’t do this is because we know from experience that once trade bodies go beyond tasks such as setting reasonable standards and get their hands on too much power, they tend to jack up prices at the expense of consumers for the benefit of their members.  They don’t even need to have this as their explicit intention.  It’s just human nature to lean towards the direction that gives your group an advantage.  As my arch-nemesis, the clean shaven Adam Smith once said:

“People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.”

And if you don’t believe him, I’m sure my uncle will be more than happy to tell you all about his past experiences with building tribunals.5

Now the CEC Approved Solar Retailer Scheme is becoming effectively mandatory in Victoria, we can expect other trade bodies to lobby for similar protection.  After all, it’s for your own good.  If you don’t buy your kid’s birthday presents from a toy Approved Retailer you clearly don’t care about their mental development.

“My ridiculously proportioned tiny head can out think your massive bonce anytime, Karl Brarx!”

We Should Be All In This Together

There are two basic approaches to organizing society.  The first is the inclusive approach where rules and regulations are made from the point of view that we’re all in this together.  We’re all Australians and rules are designed to provide the maximum possible benefit to the country as a whole.

Then there is the exclusive approach.  This is where there is an in group and an out group.  An “us” and a “them”.  And when the in group has power they set themselves up to extract resources from the out group.

Up until last Thursday I thought the Clean Energy Council was with us.  I thought they were with Australians as a whole and wanted what was best for the nation.  Sure, I might have wondered about a particular decision they made — or didn’t make — but I figured they were doing the best they could under the circumstances.  This is no longer the case.  By allowing the Approved Solar Retailer Scheme to become effectively mandatory in Victoria they have changed from the inclusive approach to the exclusive.

They are set on a course where they will destroy businesses that have done nothing wrong, go against consumer interests, and — by reducing the amount of solar capacity installed — they will even harm the environment.  All apparently because they want to make their scheme larger.

At the moment they are:

  • Adding a compulsory but unnecessary layer of bureaucracy.
  • Increasing complexity.
  • Acting against the consumer interest.
  • Scavenging power ceded by politicians.

They seem determined to repeat the worst mistakes of the electricity sector.

It’s Not Too Late

Fortunately, it’s not too late for the CEC to fix this.  The reasonable members of the Clean Energy Council — which is the majority of them — can make it clear it is unacceptable for their organization to lie about their Approved Solar Retailer scheme being voluntary in nature and that the CEC should not act against the consumer interest or take actions that will destroy the livelihood of people who have done nothing wrong.

And if making their position clear is not enough they should take more direct action.

Footnotes

  1. Yes some companies will be knocked back because they don’t deserve to retail solar, but others will simply be knocked back because they are not good at paperwork and jumping through bureaucratic hoops – they prefer being on rooftops wiring up solar panels
  2. A paperwork issue that the ASR classes as ‘severe’.
  3. The rebate is for half the cost of a solar system up to a maximum of $2,225 but the majority of homes will use the maximum amount.
  4. I’ll stop calling you Orwellian when you stop using 1984 as a procedure guide.
  5. Dial-an-Uncle:  $1 for the first minute, 30 cents for every subsequent minute…  Ah, who am I kidding?  He’ll pay you to listen.
About Ronald Brakels

Many years ago now, Ronald Brakels was born in Toowoomba. He first rose to international prominence when his township took up a collection to send him to Japan, which was the furthest they could manage with the money they raised. He became passionately interested in environmental matters upon his return to Australia when the local Mayor met him at the airport and explained it was far too dangerous for him to return to Toowoomba on account of climate change and mutant attack goats. Ronald then moved to a property in the Adelaide Hills where he now lives with his horse, Tonto 23.

Comments

  1. Laurens Bloem says

    ‘formally’ should probably be ‘formerly’ in the opening sentence?

  2. I normally really like your posts Ronald, but I think you’ve got it wrong on this one. I hear so, so many horror stories of people having their experience of solar ruined by the installer being poor at paperwork – whether it impacts the tariff they receive, or their connection to the grid, or the rebates, etc. Paperwork is very important for a solar installer. If being unable to do paperwork prevents a solar installer from being accredited, well that’s better than their inability to do paperwork from costing their customers money.

    Some of your comments as you get towards the end of the post are fear mongering to the extreme. It will be interesting to revisit this post in future years to see how accurate your doomsaying has been.

    • I totally agree with you. I too like Ron’s posts and normally agree with him. In this case, Ron is wrong. Unfortunately ‘salt of the earth’ type blokes who ‘don’t do paperwork’ are a risk to consumers and this is what the Victorian Govt is trying to fix. If there are no barriers to entry, you will have another ‘pink batts’ scheme and there will be deaths. This is high-risk work and consumer protections need to be at their highest. If solar installers want a piece of the pie (and there will be a lot of PIE) then they simply need to join the code. It’s not expensive and they will only be knocked back is if their current operational processes and terms and conditions are not up to the high standards of the code. In simple terms, if you want a piece of the PIE, lift your game. If you don’t like paperwork. Hire a receptionist. This is GOOD governance and a sensible way of handing out a rebate. Rather than fight it because it reduces free market participation, Solar Quotes should encourage its network of solar installers to join the code.

      • It’s okay to disagree with the great Ronald from time to time. I too think he’s got this one completely wrong. But that’s okay, will continue reading 🙂 I agree with Mark and Keiran on this one.

      • John Denison says

        Totally disagree and i totally understand with your remarks but the facts are that the CEC are basically an organization that just loves to keep it’s executives in highly paid jobs and do nothing for the consumer or industry .
        This is a pretty bold statement made against them , but i do have facts that can prove what i am saying is factual .
        I will take you back to the year 2014 , a particular wholesaler sold over 50,000 solar panels that were installed , and the ACCC raided this company because they thought the company here in Australia was importing fakes due to all the certification the CEC was apparently paid for to check and approve the solar panels and company , but the funny thing was that when the company contacted CEC , CEC reply was it is not our duty to check out who the company is LOL , so the company replied to CEC and said you guys certify and approve what modules companies can sell here in Australia and the consumer checks your website , as do companies like us and now you wipe your hands off this matter and point the finger to the company importing them .
        Cut a long story short , ACCC said CEC asked if the company can recall only the last two containers of panels installed and the company replied back and said to CEC if you want to do a recall on only these panels , in which it is no fault of the company but we as a company look up to you as a organization that assist consumers and companies on which product to import as the CEC has a list of manufactures , now if you want a recall to be done lets do a recall on all the 50,000 panels .

        Now the response rom the CEC was zero , they backed off in there little hole as the company threatened them with legal action and exposing them in the media , the ACCC did not find that the company here did anything wrong at all but was just implicated due to the actions of the manufacture over seas and did not fine the company here at all , as the company gave the ACCC all the information they requested at the time .

        In a nut shell the Clean Energy Council wants to have the approved model because in a few years time there will be no Small scale certificates and this will affect them as installers would not have to pay any fees to them so it is just a cash grab for the small circle they choose to have to benefit themselves , consumers don’t be fooled by the smoke and mirrors image they don’t give a cracker about you ! PS Excuse my grammar

        By the way how do i know this , i was an employee of the company in QLD

  3. Leigh Phillips says

    As a small electrical contractor, who does a lot of solar repair work and around 3 to 4 installations a year I for one will not be applying for this, and I will also not be renewing my solar deding, install licence later this year.
    This system is an absolute joke as many of the repairs that i do are on systems that have been installed by larger solar retailers, so I will be one who will now drop out of the system.
    I would support this IF all retailers are 1. Accredited electrical contractors, 2. Licensed solar installers. 3. Licenced solar designers.
    Until this is made mandatory the system will not work as the number of dodgy installation will stay the same or increase due quality installers dropping out of the field

  4. bruce mcloughlin says

    It would be nice to include some information on who would be the best people to send complaints / protests to?

  5. This is another money grab from a government that did not think this through before starting the solar business. Now using their incompetence to slug the industry yet again. True there is merit in having everyone on the same song sheet but it is working it from the wrong end. They should have inspectors like they do with buildings. Trying to play catch up is just another imposition on the small business person who actually drives commerce across Victoria. Governments dont create money, they just spend it.

    • Peter Gorian says

      Actually governments do create money. Also look up MMT. They just need to ensure they don’t create more (demand) than the current economy can meet (supply). Usually there is a lot of excess production capacity in the system – especially during economic down cycles like the one that is coming. Of course there are other opinions on this good stuff that are ideologically driven.

    • Bravo Ronald! At least someone can see the forest for the trees.

      Another example of the government not properly consulting with the industry before introducing sweeping, misguided and poorly informed changes which will negatively affect the industry, the consumers and the environment. There is absolutely no doubt that this mandatory requirement will add cost and delays to PV system installations and will also reduce choice and in many cases lower quality.

      Given that all installers must be CEC accredited and all Victorian installations must be inspected by an independent ESV inspector prior to being grid connected and prior to the Victorian solar subsidy being paid, what does this extra red tape, burden and cost hope to achieve?

      As a small to medium sized solar retailer and installer in Victoria who is a qualified engineer and who only uses the best, most dedicated and skilled installers to service our local area I simply don’t see what this mandatory and costly new impost seeks to deliver.

      But the reality is that it is just totally unfair. Now that we have steadily invested in and built up a very good small solar business by following all the rules and by doing excellent quality work and delivering best in class and truly taylored designs to mostly referred clients using a genuinely consultative and low pressure approach, we are now at the mercy of some faceless bureaucrat who may arbitrarily choose to not stamp our papers and force us out of this business we love.

      They have effectively completely changed the rules and told us we have to comply or get out of town. So if we spend the money and the time making the application to the CEC and get knocked back what then? We will have to close down and lose hundreds of thousands of our investment. We will no longer be employed or employ anyone else.

      And how long will it take for the CEC to get through all of the new applications? The deadline is only a few short months away. What happens if we are waiting to be approved for months after the deadline with no work coming in because we can’t guarantee our customers will receive their subsidy?

      And who will look after our many many current customers if we are forced out of the industry? The CEC? The government? I don’t think so. But certainly we will no longer be able to help any of our customers who trusted us to do their installations, service their systems, carry out warranty work on their systems or give them any after sales service, advice or help in any way.

      This decision will effectively create more of the very problems they are trying to solve, and a great many more.

      • “Now that we have steadily invested in and built up a very good small solar business by following all the rules and by doing excellent quality work” – well if you are a truly good business, get cracking and fill out the paperwork and get accredited. You knew this was potentially on the table so you gambled wrong. Seriously, all the whining about a SMALL cost and some paperwork which you should be ALL over if you have ever done a tender or produced your own WHS procedures???

        • Simon Miller says

          I cannot argue with your comments Mark, as no good can come from arguing with the ignorant and the ill-informed.

  6. ian hawkins says

    Ronald
    Follow the money
    Always follow the money.
    Find out who benefits from this and there’s the motivation for bringing in these over-burdensome regulations

  7. I think there’s more to this politically Ronald. I think Labor had their fingers badly burnt by the home insulation scheme, where installers actually died, due to inadequate training.

    Therefore they think this manoeuvre will exonerate them form any possible future blame for another rebate scheme.

    To change minds you need to understand the political forces behind the decision. I think they’d be much better off by making sure the training on the other side of the scheme (accredited installers) is completely un-reproachable. I currently think there are problems with this side of the industry that need to be addressed.

  8. Lawrence Coomber says

    Ron you have focused on CEC Approved Retailers:-

    But you have omitted discussing the more important and practical criteria set by Australian States Legislation regarding all/any electrical work (including RE) undertaken in Australia.

    There would probably only be a small number of CEC Approved Retailers throughout Australia with electrical licencing sufficient to design and install solar PV systems plus be entitled to negotiate a contract with a customer to do so.

    You may have been misled on this point I gather from your posting Ron, and here are the reasons why this is the case:

    All Australian States operate on the same electrical licencing principles. For example here is an extract from the Victorian Government regulations:

    A.1 An electrician’s licence, also known as an ‘A Grade’ entitles the licence holder to carry out all types of electrical installation work in Victoria without supervision.

    A.2 This licence does not allow the licence holder to carry out electrical installation work for profit or reward. In Victoria, to contract for profit or reward, including sub-contracting, a Registered Electrical Contractors registration must be also held.

    So I doubt that many CEC Approved Retailers (there will be some though) are in fact Licenced Electrical Contractors, as their business is not predicated on Electrical Contracting pe se but more often RE product sales.

    This is an important point as there must always be by law (in all states) a minimum of 2 licenced entities in the RE system design/install and electrical contract works chain:

    (1) The system installer licenced electrician (also will require CEC licence) for Government subsidy application;

    (2) The licenced electrical contractor who engaged with; or employed the licenced electrician installer and contracted electrical works to be undertaken directly with a customer.

    The electrical contractor by virtue of the electrician/contractor relationship is the key responsible entity for the system safety and performance standards going forward.

    Importantly it is the licenced contractor that must endorse the Electrical Installation Safety Certificate and by doing so assumes full responsibility for the system.

    Note: The system installer licenced electrician + CEC, and the licenced electrical contractor can for all intents and purposes be the same person “holding both licences” which is common throughout the small electrical businesses industry such as highly regarded contractor Leigh Phillips who posted earlier.

    So the key players in the RE chain are the licenced electrician + CEC, and the principal electrical contractor responsible for engaging with the customer and transacting the business case.

    Importantly, the relationship between customer and electrical contractor is a formal one, that cannot be usurped, rearranged or sidelined by a CEC Approved Retailer. The individual Australian State Acts are quite clear on this point, and for very sound and long-standing reasons.

    Unless the CEC Approved Retailer is a licenced Electrical Contractor, they definitely cannot strike a contract to permit or undertake electrical works in Australian States. Only electrical contractors are permitted to do so.

    I hope this clarifies the issue for you Ron.

    Lawrence Coomber

  9. Michael Green says

    Very agree

  10. Chris Thaler says

    Do any of these new regs impinge on the right of free and unfettered trade across state borders as spelled out in the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia as enacted in 1901.

  11. Unfortunately I fear Ronald is 100% correct when he states “The solar installers most likely to be driven out are those who hate paperwork and have a low tolerance for bullshit.” Reminds me of the ever increasing load of meaningless red tape imposed on teachers over the last 40 years or so – which prevent teachers actually doing their job to the extent that most of the best ones I know are now doing corporate training instead. Way more money and less bullshit, even if they are still teaching large numbers of infantile minds.

    The other issue I have is when the licensing standards are so low as to be meaningless. My previous dwelling had three buildings – a “normal house” with an office and two new builds: a large (seated 70) music room / recording studio and an “only slightly smaller” computer workshop for building up to 40 computers plus 5 servers at once. After the initial construction of the last two buildings I needed to update / rewire the house plus wire up all the new stuff. After firing three licensed electricians who were unable to wire even down to the pathetically low WA standard I ended up doing the whole job myself and getting a senior member of the electrical regulator to check & approve my work (for a “far too large fee”) before connecting the upgraded 3 phase * 100 amp mains feed into the place. His comment after seeing how I designed and wired it “I should be an electrician”. As if…(building servers was way harder).

    Unfortunately I suspect the (misnomer of) the “pink batts debacle” burnt too many people. Who knew that some idiots were trying to put (much cheaper) conductive, reflective foil in roofspaces with electrical wires everywhere? I suspect that like most Aussies I didn’t – especially as the “foil stuff” cannot work very effectively under those conditions anyway! Reflecting radiant heat is tricky in shaded spaces. The only thing likely to happen was electrical fires and the odd fatality. Ironically, if pink batts / rock wool and other non-conductive, non flammable material were the only materials to be used the same scheme would probably be held up as good practice.

    God preserve us from bureaucratic / political mindsets.

  12. Esmail Attia says

    1. Best for ALL installers to join a union to address to respresent us
    2. SEIA is a good platform to start with ( membership
    from$200 pa)
    3 GSES would run a short course for installers to be a good Retailers hence Become an CEC APPROVED RETAILERS
    4 perhaps a new classification CEC ACCREDITED
    INSTALLER / RETAILER They are on smaler scale as compare to ASR
    5 If Installers being an electrician moves away to other sectors of Electrical What can ASR do ??
    6 The CEC must find a well balance policy

  13. Jacko Solar says

    hi there
    sack/de-list the CEC from ASIC they are on the take and unlawful to force any electrician/solar worker to follow their company regulations (they are not a government body) on an Australian worker under the Australian Constitution, any constitutional lawyer want to take is on? i will start a funding team 🙂 but you wont need it the payout should be pretty good! thinking a class action? CEC take donations to make any solar company look good, CEC is all smoke and mirrors, someone like Energy Safe should be running this who is interdependent and wont take bribes to be there number one approved solar installer at there next event.
    so tell Hon Lily D’Ambrosio MP she got it wrong to stop an Australia from working under Australian Constitution Law and watch her make a back flip to protect her job for the Minister for Energy and the rest….
    we (solar installers) need to toughen up and not be pushed around by these money hungry companies (CEC) and unqualified ministers telling us how to do our jobs.
    stand up for your rights,
    Jacko

  14. very true

  15. This is the way to go believe or not.
    To be honest this Blog allows small dodgy companies to do terrible work.
    Reason???? Very simple.
    Blog says all the fancy stuff. Quality and quality and quality.
    Looks like they are only taking care of quality companies with them.

    Reality?? They give customer’s inquiry to those small dodgy companies to ruin the market. How does it work? Let me show you.
    1. They sell customer inquiry $ 35 per each to basically everybody who is willing to pay.
    2. All small companies who doesn’t have proper marketing purely rely on this source.
    3. Customer’s inquiry is provided at least 3 companies.
    4. Price battle begins.
    5. What they can do is only to cut price to beat others because there is no selling point.
    6. Customer looking for cheap cheap and installer should do dodgy to make money.
    7. It is like a circle.

    Makes sense? Yes for sure. Because this is a fact.

    Now VIC government is trying to get rid of all dodgy guys. Guess what? SolarQuotes will lose its biggest customers in the end.
    This is why this kind of non-sense article is made.

    • Hi Eric,

      I see you appear to have used a fake email. So I have no idea who you are or represent.

      You are 100% wrong.

      We are very transparent about who we refer. For example here are the companies currently active in Melbourne:

      https://www.solarquotes.com.au/installers/melbourne/

      All those companies are highly vetted by me personally.

      Please advise which specific companies on this list you consider to be ‘dodgy’ with specific reasons.

      As for your 7 points:

      1. Totally false. We turn away hundreds of companies. Some beg us for leads. I vet each one personally.
      2. Look at our client lists online – there are large and small companies. Most do their own marketing too.
      3. Wrong – enquiry is referred to 1-3 companies (user can choose how many quotes they want). We have never sent a lead to more than 3 companies.
      4. Have a chat with our clients – most are not the cheapest in the market. Most of our leads are not looking for the cheapest deal as proven by the data we publish every month.
      5. Absolute bollocks – talk to any of our clients.
      6. See above.
      7. The only circle is the spiral of delusion you are falling down.

      As I said on the vodcast a few weeks ago. A mandatory ASR is good for SQ because our clients are the best in the biz – almost all will get ASR no problem – if they want it. Our competitors – many of whom get most of their business from big companies we would not touch will suddenly find that most of their clients are ineligible for state rebates.

      And please don’t confuse us with the copy-cat lead gens that do not hold our values.

  16. Lawrence Coomber says

    Finn this information was promulgated two hours ago and sent to every Electrical Contractor and Electrician registered in Queensland and applies by extension, to every Electrical Contractor in Australia wanting to contract Solar PV works in Queensland by virtue of the interstate agreements in place by each state government.

    This Queensland code of practice has been approved by the Minister for Education and Minister for Industrial Relations under section 274 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 and section 44 of the Electrical Safety Act 2002.

    This is a new code of practice and electrical safety regulations that will commence next month to enhance safety in the growing commercial solar industry. The Construction and operation of solar farms Code of Practice 2019 (PDF, 922 KB) comes into effect on 13 May 2019.

    https://www.worksafe.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0003/174396/construction-and-operation-of-solar-farms-cop.pdf?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=eSAFE+Electrical+bulletin+10%2F19&utm_content=Construction+and+operation+of+solar+farms+Code+of+Practice+2019&utm_source=www.vision6.com.au

    Important to note Ron is that this code re-emphasises clearly, the overarching status accorded by numerous Queensland Government Authorities to Australian Licenced Electrical Contractors working in the Australian Electrical (including Solar PV) industry.

    This new Code of Practice goes into great detail to expand on the exacting formal qualifications and professional experience required to become a licenced Australian (and Queensland) Electrical Contractor, and it is important for all Australians to reflect on and be supportive of the fact that Australia has the most demanding standards of any country to become a licenced Electrical Contractor and it is also well recognised internationally that Australian Electrical Contractors are considered as setting the global industry standard of professionalism and performance across the broad electrical industry landscape, including of course the Solar PV sector.

    This is a lengthy document of 65 pages, devoted to the indisputable and legally binding licencing requirements for technical professionals to operate in the PV Industry at any and every level in Queensland, so it is not surprising therefore that the term “Electrical Contractor” is mentioned 20 times in the document along with Electrician on 4 occasions. Interesting to some (and perhaps yourself Finn) might be the fact that the Clean Energy Council or Clean Energy Regulator have no relevance at all on this subject in Queensland and are not mentioned once in this Government legislated document.

    The takeaway Ron is that Licenced Australian Electrical Contractors are the key players and at the apex of the broad Australian electrical industry including of course Solar PV in Queensland, and we should not support or encourage any efforts of any entity whatsoever to derate for any purposes this important and long-standing fact.

    The Australian Electrical Industry is in very good hands via our long-standing Electrical Contractor legislation in all states and we are all the beneficiaries of the high skills and professionalism of our Australian Electrical Contractors.

    Lawrence Coomber

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