Hundreds of Victorians have been warned solar panels installed on their homes as part of a $1.3 billion rebate scheme are the work of a dodgy company using unlicensed electricians.
Community Energy Group Pty Ltd, trading as Space Solar, carried out 546 installations under the Labor government’s signature solar homes rebate scheme.
But not all of the work was up to scratch.
It employed unlicensed electrical staff to carry out works in an unsafe manner, with technical and safety defects found.
“This kind of behaviour is totally unacceptable,” Solar Homes Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said.
“Customers deserve to know their solar installations are completed to the highest standards and that’s why we have such a strict audit regime.”
Those who got work done by Space Solar have been contacted about the audit’s findings.
The sole director of Community Energy Group has had their electrical registration cancelled by Energy Safety Victoria.
Some of the defects were minor and easily fixed, but a number were far more serious and “demonstrate a wilful disregard for Victoria’s strict solar safety standards”, the government said.
The issues have now all been rectified.
Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien wants all systems installed under this scheme to be checked, concerned there are “incompetent inspectors” ticking off dodgy work.
“The question it is not just about one dodgy installer, it is also how many incompetent inspectors are also out there telling people their solar systems are safe when they may be dangerous?” he told reporters on Wednesday, fearing lives and homes are at risk.
“This absolutely has the potential to lead to deaths. When you have badly designed and poorly installed solar systems they provide a threat to life.”
Taxpayers – not just impacted householders – are most likely to pick up the bill for the government’s dodgy system, he added.
The solar homes program helped sweep the Andrews Labor government to a second term in 2018.
However the program been plagued with criticism for the way it has been rolled out, with customers not buying panels unless they have a rebate, drying up business.
It led to the government rejigging the way the rebates were issued to try and keep a more continuous level of work for installers.