The Solar Retailer Code of Conduct was initially authorised by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) in October 2013. In April 2015, minor amendments were made to the Code and the ACCC re-authorised it for a period of five years in October 2015.
With this authorisation period coming to an end in 2020, the Clean Energy Council sought a further re-authorisation of the Code and suggested a number of minor amendments to bring it up to date and in line with industry developments.
On 19 November 2020, the amended Code was granted re-authorisation by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) until 31 July 2023. Visit the ACCC's website to read more about the authorisation process. A copy of the amended Solar Retailer Code of Conduct is available below.
The following table provides an overview of the amendments made to the Code and their impact on Approved Solar Retailers.
|Code heading||Code clause||Updated Code clause||Impact on ASR or applicant|
|Point of contract||2.1.6 (a)||A written contract must be provided to the consumer that includes:|
- all terms and conditions of the contract and these must comply with the Code.
|ASRs must include their terms and conditions with contract documentation provided to their customers. A contract may be a written quote that has been accepted by the consumer orally or by text or email notification.|
|Point of contract||2.1.6 (d)||A written contract must be provided to the consumer that includes:|
- the total value of any discounts, quantity and value of STCs, Goods and Services Tax (GST) and rebates as applicable, including relevant disclaimers.
|The total quantity and value of STCs must now be included in the ASR's written contract. Applicable rebates must include any relevant disclaimers.|
|Point of contract||2.1.6 (f)||A written contract must be provided to the consumer that includes: |
- a site-specific full system design including the proposed roof plan (sketch or diagram with measurements is acceptable), array orientation and tilt in degrees, expected efficiency losses due to shading, inverter location and the system’s site-specific estimated energy yield, i.e. average daily performance estimate in kilowatt hours (kWh) for each month of solar generation.
|Site-specific system designs must now include:|
- measurements if the proposed roof plan is in sketch or diagram format
- array orientation and tilt in degrees
- inverter location (this can be included in the system design diagram or detailed clearly in writing).
|Point of contract||2.1.6 (g)||A written contract must be provided to the consumer that includes:|
- Full disclosure of the method of all estimations made in relation to system outputs and financial benefits including:
(i) estimates of import and export tariffs
(ii) system design, performance and output assumptions
(iii) STC financial incentives and rebates
(iv) estimated return on investment in years and subsequent future savings.
|If estimations in relation to system output and financial benefits are provided to the consumer, the ASR must provide full disclosure of the methods used in relation to:|
- estimates of import and export tariffs
- system design, performance and output assumptions
- STC financial incentives and rebates
- estimated return on investment in years and subsequent future savings.
|Point of contract||2.1.10||Any requirement to provide a document, or information, or signature in writing can be met in electronic form. Any document which forms part of the contract must be provided to the consumer in a non-editable, i.e. hard copy or pdf.||ASRs must ensure consumers are able to obtain a non-editable copy of their contract documentation at the time of purchase. Links to terms and conditions contained online is not acceptable.|
|Prior to signing the contract||2.1.12||Before the contract is signed, the Signatory must provide the consumer with an address and a telephone number where any queries can be answered.||Consumers must be provided with the ASR's address and telephone number where their queries can be answered. PO Boxes are not acceptable. ASRs can use their registered office, their principal place of business address or the address of their accountants in place of a PO Box.|
|Prior to signing the contract||2.1.14||Signatories must clearly explain in writing the process surrounding the payment and trade of STCs, including where relevant, the provision of accurate information about the operation of the STC Clearing House (i.e. that STCs in the Clearing House are only sold when there is a buyer, there is no guarantee on how long they will take to sell, and consumers are not guaranteed $40).||ASRs must include in writing the process surrounding the payment and trade of STCs in the documentation provided to consumers.|
|Prior to signing the contract||2.1.15||Signatories must advise consumers in writing that their electricity contract/tariff may change following installation of solar and that the consumer should contact their electricity retailer:|
a. before signing a contract, to check what new electricity tariff rates may apply; and
b. after installation of the solar PV system, to confirm that the agreed tariff has been applied.
|ASRs must include in writing that the consumer's electricity contract/tariff may change following the installation of solar and to contact their electricity retailer to make the necessary enquiries.|
|Privacy||2.2.13||If personal information is used for the purpose of direct marketing, signatories must seek the consumer’s consent, by way of an opt-in clause in the contract or other appropriate document, to receive marketing material.||ASRs must seek the consumer’s consent by way of an opt-in clause in their contract (tick box is acceptable) to receive marketing material.|
|Information to be provided to the Code Administrator||2.4.7||In the event of a change in control of a Signatory, the Signatory must notify the Code Administrator within 10 business days of the change. If the Signatory is not able to satisfy the Code Administrator that the Signatory has the necessary systems and procedures in place to ensure ongoing compliance with the Code, the Code Administrator may revoke the status as signatory to the Code.|
If the Code Administrator identifies a change in control which was not disclosed the signatory's status may be revoked.
|Existing ASRs may have their approved status revoked if there is a significant change in control of their business and the Code Administrator is not satisfied they are able to maintain compliance with the Code. ASRs must notify the Code Administrator within 10 business days of any change in control of the business.|
|Training and promotion of the Code||2.4.18||For all system designs and installations, Signatories must employ and contract CEC-accredited designers/installers who abide by the CEC Accreditation Code of Conduct and Accreditation Terms and Conditions, or an equivalently trained accredited designer/installer as defined by the Federal Government in accordance with the Renewable Energy (Electricity) (Cth) Regulations 2001.|
a. The system design must comply with CEC Accreditation Guidelines and manufacturer's requirements.
|ASRs will be held accountable for system designs that do not comply with CEC Accreditation Guidelines and manufacturer's requirements.|
|Application process||4.1.1 (d)||PV retailers wanting to sign on to the Code will need to complete the following steps:|
(d) provide declarations relating to company history and key stakeholders.
|The declarations completed and submitted with an applicant's online application are now formally built into the Code.|
|Application process||4.1.1 (j)||Where the applicant has not been in operation for 12 months, the Code Administrator may request that the applicant provide further details, including supporting documentation, to demonstrate relevant experience in the industry.||Applicants who have not been in operation for 12 months may be required to provide further details, including supporting documentation, to demonstrate relevant experience in the energy industry.|
|Application process||4.1.2||Based on the information submitted by the applicant, and further information gathered by the Code Administrator in the application process, the Code Administrator will assess whether the application has sufficiently demonstrated that the applicant retailer complies with the Code. Applications unable to meet this requirement may be rejected.|
If the Code Administrator determines that the applicant’s response to adverse findings does not sufficiently demonstrate compliance with the Code or assurance that the necessary systems and procedures are in place to ensure ongoing compliance, the Code Administrator may reject the application.
|The Code Administrator may reject an application if they are not satisfied that the applicant can comply with the Code or that the applicant's response to adverse findings did not provide the necessary assurance they can comply with the Code.|
|Application process||4.1.3||Incorrect or incomplete information submitted by an applicant, including the information supplied in the declarations required by section 4.1.1(d), may lead to the delay or rejection of an application.||Applicants who submit incorrect declarations in their online application may have their application rejected for providing a false declaration.|
|Appeals||4.2.1||If an applicant believes that the Code Administrator did not exercise reasonable discretion, that they were denied natural justice or that new evidence has come to light that was not available at the time of the original decision, they are entitled to appeal the decision of the Code Administrator to the Code Review Panel, or its appointed delegate.||Unsuccessful applicants to the Code of Conduct may now appeal the Code Administrator's decision.|
In February 2023 the New Energy Tech Consumer Code (NETCC) program will replace the Approved Solar Retailer program.
If you have any questions about the amended Code or expectations under the NETCC program, please contact [email protected].