New Energy Tech Consumer Code (NETCC) Launches

New Energy Tech Consumer Code - NETCC

Here comes the new code, same as the old code? Replacing the Approved Solar Retailer (ASR) program, what is the NETCC and why does it matter?

The NETCC is a voluntary code of conduct authorised by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) that has been designed to build on existing mandatory consumer protection regulations in relation to the purchase of new energy tech.

New energy tech goes beyond solar and battery storage covered under the Approved Solar Retailer program; encompassing products and services such as EV chargers, Virtual Power Plant (VPP) participation, home energy management systems, and more.

The NETCC has travelled a long and often bumpy road to get to this point. One of those bumps was how controversial “buy now pay later” (BNPL) finance for new energy tech would be treated under the new program. There were calls to exclude BNPL from solar power and battery system sales, but the Australian Competition Tribunal concluded risks could be reduced by protections contained in the Code.

The new program, officially launched and in effect yesterday, has been designed and is governed by the NETCC Council, which is comprised of:

  • The Australian Energy Council
  • The Clean Energy Council
  • The Consumer Action Law Centre
  • Energy Consumers Australia
  • Energy Networks Australia
  • The Public Interest Advocacy Centre
  • Renew

The program is being administered by the Clean Energy Council, which also administered the ASR.

According to NETCC Council Chair Clare Petre:

”The new Code will provide consumers with a wide range of information in advance of purchases and empower providers to achieve the highest standards of service and consumer protection. The Code will be key in supporting consumers as they embrace new energy tech as part of a renewable energy future.”

Let’s hope it does, as the Approved Solar Retailer program had its share of issues – including the quality of some of the retailers granted (and then retaining) ASR status. While there was some improvement as the program evolved, it remained far from perfect.

Some of the key differences between the Solar Retailer Code of Conduct and the New Energy Tech Consumer Code can be found here.

Approved Solar Retailer -> Approved Seller Transition

As with the ASR program, participation in the NETCC  is voluntary. But according to the NETCC website:

“All Approved Solar Retailers have now become New Energy Tech Approved Sellers.”

…so it seems the bathwater has come over with the baby at this point, but I’m not totally clear on this. My understanding is Approved Sellers who were already Approved Solar Retailers need to ensure they meet NETCC requirements by August 1 this year.

The ACCC’s authorisation of the Solar Retailer Code of Conduct expires on 31 July 2023. Approved Solar Retailers not wanting to transition to the NETCC, or failure to meet the more stringent NETCC requirements, could impact participation in various government programs and other opportunities currently requiring ASR status.

Further information for existing Approved Solar Retailers is available here, and information for consumers regarding how the NETCC is meant to work for them can be found here. The full New Energy Tech Consumer Code can be viewed here.

About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.

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