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Compliance case studies

In an effort to help Approved Solar Retailers ensure that they meet their compliance obligations under the Solar Retailer Code of Conduct, the Clean Energy Council has produced a number of case studies on the commonly breached areas of the Code.

Case studies

Clause 2.2.3 - Failure to have variation to system design documented by consumer

The Code Administrator received a complaint from a consumer stating that the panels installed on their roof did not reflect what was agreed in their contract. The consumer claimed that the system size was significantly reduced.

Following receipt of the complaint, the Code Administrator contacted the retailer to get their side of the story. The Code Administrator asked for confirmation of what had been installed on the day of installation. This was verified with the STC Assignment form and the Certificate of Electrical Safety. The Code Administrator found that the system was reduced from a 9.9 kW system to an 8.14 kW system.

The retailer claimed that the system size was reduced due to limited roof space and after they received the consumer’s verbal consent. The retailer also confirmed that no new documentation was provided to the consumer until after installation was complete.

Contracted system

DESCRIPTIONQUANTITY
Mibet Racking27.00
Multi-Storey Charge1.00
Fronius Symo 8.2kW - SYMO 8.2-3-M1.00
Leapton 370W MONO - LP 158*158-M-66-MH-370W27.00

Installed system

DESCRIPTIONQUANTITY
Mibet Racking22.00
Multi-Storey Charge1.00
Fronius Symo 8.2kW - SYMO 8.2-3-M1.00
Leapton 370W MONO - LP 158*158-M-66-MH-370W22.00

The Code Administrator requested evidence that the variation was documented and signed off prior to installation. The retailer was unable to provide this evidence. As a result, the Code Administrator alleged that the retailer had breached section 2.2.3 of the Code.

The retailer was provided with 21 days to respond to the alleged breaches. The retailer did not dispute that they had breached section 2.2.3 of the Code by failing to have the system design documented and signed off prior to installation.

The Code Administrator sent a Letter of Outcome to the retailer that detailed the sanctions applied in this case. One Major breach of the Code of Conduct was substantiated, and the retailer was required to complete an audit at their own cost with an agreed action plan to prevent the issue from re-occurring. The retailer was also requested to provide the consumer with an updated site-specific system design. The new system design was crucial to allow the consumer to know what the new estimated output of the system would be. A consumer needs to be able to compare the estimated performance against the actual performance of the system.

As a result of the audit, the retailer implemented new business procedures to avoid a future breach of clause 2.2.3 of the Code. This included:

  • new training of installers and sales staff to ensure they are aware of the requirements for having variations documented and signed off by the consumer
  • documented business procedures with clear instructions to installers and staff members for what to do when a system design needs to be changed on the day of installation
  • additional oversight measures to ensure work was being regularly reviewed by management.

Following the receipt of the audit, the Code Administrator was satisfied that the retailer would comply with the Code should the new procedures be followed.

It is important to note the following learnings from this case:

  • If more time had been taken to review the consumer’s property and the existing conditions, the need for a variation could have been avoided entirely. A 9.9 kW system was not going to fit on the consumer’s roof. Please ensure you are confident with your system designs prior to installation to avoid disputes.
  • Verbal consent is not compliant with clause 2.2.3 of the Code. Any variation to the system design must be documented and signed off by the consumer prior to installation.
  • Please ensure your installers and staff members are aware of your requirements under the Code. You need to ensure you have processes in place that require staff to notify you when the installation cannot be completed as per the system design. Clause 2.4.25 of the Code states that Signatories will be held responsible for all the actions of their employees, contractors, agents and any other individuals or businesses acting on the Signatory’s behalf.