Tuesday, October 18th, 2011
Today, peak electrical industry body, the National Electrical and Communications Association (NECA), continued calls for governments at all levels to work together to stamp out dodgy solar installers and protect consumers following official government figures that show many installations are dangerous.

At yesterday’s (17 October 2011) Senate Estimates hearing, the Office of the Renewable Energy Regulator confirmed that after they conducted safety inspections, four per cent were deemed unsafe and 20% found to be dangerous.

NECA’s chief executive officer, Mr James Tinslay, said these figures are the latest in a long line that demonstrate the current regulatory framework for solar installations is not working and it is time for an overhaul.

“These latest figures that show 20% of installations were dangerous contributes to the ever increasing pile of evidence that demonstrates the current solar framework is not working and it is time governments at all levels stepped up to the plate to get this sorted out,” Mr Tinslay said.

“Solar installations are classified as an electrical installation under existing regulations so therefore only licensed electricians can install or supervise the installations. However, the boom in the industry created by government subsidies and generous feed-in tariffs has attracted unlicensed and inexperienced installers to the industry.”

“Although there was an accreditation process established by the Clean Energy Council to help ensure only qualified installers did the work, it is clear from the latest inspection figures that this accreditation and framework is not working. The accreditation process needs to be reviewed.”

Earlier this year, NSW Fair Trading conducted inspections after receiving complaints. Following initial audits in Port Macquarie early this year that revealed problems with 16 installations out of 55 homes in relation to the Electricity (Consumer Safety) Act 2004, the NSW government conducted a further 658 safety audits on homes in western Sydney.

Of the 658 homes inspected in the second audit 122 (18.5%) were found to have major defects, 418 (63.5%) were found to have minor defects and 118 (18%) were found to have no defects. Other state inspections have found similar results.

NECA represents over 5000 electrical contracting businesses that employ in excess of 60,000 workers in the industry and believes there is a strong future in Australia for renewable energy.

“NECA is very supportive of renewable energy, especially solar energy. However, to ensure the long term viability of the industry and the safety of consumers, it is time dialogue began between all the interested parties to develop a framework that is best for industry, best for consumer, best for government and importantly best for the environment,” Mr Tinslay said.

“There are many installers who are doing the right thing but we need a framework that achieves the government’s renewable energy goals while ensuring the industry is adequately trained and prepared for the ongoing use of this technology.”


Contact Profile

National Electrical and Communications Association - NECA

NECA is the peak industry body representing the interests of electrical and communications contractors Australia-wide.
Dominic Feenan - Media and Communications Manager
P: 02 9439 8523
M: 0457 767 328
W: ww.neca.asn.au


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