Thursday, June 30th, 2011 - KNX National Group
Today, peak Australian electrical industry body, the National Electrical and Communications Association (NECA), supported the release of data by the New South Wales Government that highlighted serious defects of solar panel installations following a Fair Trading audit conducted in western Sydney.

NSW Fair Trading conducted safety inspections in western Sydney in June and found that 18.5% of installations had major defects. One hundred and twenty two (122) of the 658 inspected had major problems and a further 418, or 63.5 per cent, were found to have minor defects

NECA NSW chief executive, Mr Lindsay Le Compte, said the results of the safety audits are a clear indicator that there have been serious problems with solar panel installations in NSW and it is likely further inspections will be required to satisfy any concerned members of the public that their solar installation is safe.

“The dangerously high number of faults found during the Fair Trading safety inspections in Port Macquarie and now in western Sydney is very concerning for the electrical industry,” Mr Le Compte said.

“NECA provided 20 licensed electrical contractors that have completed specialist solar panel training to assist Fair Trading with the latest inspections in western Sydney. To have so many of those inspected flagged for failing to meet existing building and electrical regulations is a poor reflection on those persons and organisations responsible for the completion of these jobs.”

“There are many installers who have done the right thing but it is clear from the results of the audit there is going to be a significant amount of rectification work required.”

“It is far from ideal to have so many solar panel installations being flagged for having faults, in particular serious faults, and NECA agrees with the government that more inspections will be needed to ensure the safety of other installations across the State.”

All electrical installations, including solar panel installations, require work to be completed by a licensed electrician. A Certificate of Compliance for Electrical Work must be issued for all electrical work, including solar panel installations. Where the value of labour and materials provided (excluding any rebate) exceeds $12,000, a Home Warranty Insurance certificate should have been provided by the contractor.

“NECA is aware that the safety audit detected breaches of the Electricity (Consumer Safety) Act 2004 as well as the Home Building Act 1989 and general building regulations. It appears both unlicensed and licensed installers have made mistakes.”

“Clearly this isn’t up to scratch. Unlicensed installers should never have been involved in the first place and if licensed builders, electricians or retail companies have breached regulations, the relevant regulator should take appropriate action. The public should be informed of any action so that they may consider obtaining an independent inspection of their solar panel installation,” Mr Le Compte said.

The results of the Fair Trading safety audit will cause concern for a number of residents. NECA is working cooperatively with the NSW Government to assist any concerned residents to obtain an electrical safety inspection.

“NECA will continue to work with the government on this issue and has established a process where concerned residents can access a licensed and solar accredited electrician to inspect their solar installation,” Mr Le Compte said.

Fair Trading has information on its website on solar panels, statutory warranties, home warranty insurance and building disputes or consumers can call 1800 055 555.

To access an electrician to undertake an electrical inspection at your home please call NECA’s NSW office on 02 9744 1099.

-ENDS-

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Ian Richardson – President

P: 02 9888 3081
W: www.knx.org.au

Keywords

solar panel installations faulty unsafe government NSW national electrical communications association NECA

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