A Perth-based solar industry business group is being investigated by the Clean Energy Regulator amid concerns it falsified information related to almost 500 solar panel installations that created about $1.5 million in Small-scale Technology Certificates.
The government watchdog confirmed on Friday that it had executed search warrants on several residential and commercial addresses connected to the group — which sells and installs solar systems and operates as a Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme Agent.
While the CER did not identify the company or the timeframe during which the installations occurred, it said the execution of the search warrants comes after an extended period of investigation.
CER’s Piet Powell said the search warrants aimed to uncover evidence of false information being provided to the regulator, resulting in the improper creation of STCs.
“The execution of these warrants furthers the recent investigative work of the Clean Energy Regulator in Perth, with separate, unrelated search warrants executed in September 2021 and May 2022, investigating other potentially fraudulent activity in the solar industry,” she said.
“The Clean Energy Regulator requires the very highest standards of compliance and integrity within its Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme for the financial incentives given. SRES eligibility requirements include complying with State and Territory electrical regulatory requirements.”
While Ms Powell said the CER did not have any direct evidence that suggested the installations were either unsafe or substandard, it was working closely with its Perth regulator to investigate the allegations, and would inform homeowners should any concerns about installation quality come to light.
“Agents, installers, and retailers who fail to adequately ensure that STCs are eligible for creation or are party to the provision of false and misleading information, may face criminal, civil or administrative action,” she said.
In December 2021, amendments to the Renewable Energy (Electricity) Regulations 2001 passed into law.
The amendments address the Australian Government’s response to the recommendations made in the Clean Energy Regulator’s Integrity Review of the Rooftop Solar PV Sector, and importantly, provide the Clean Energy Regulator additional powers to disqualify installers and designers, retailers and components from participating in the SRES.
If you have any information about potential fraudulent behaviour or activities, contact [email protected], phone 1300 553 542 or use the online reporting tool.
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