Sunny side up: strengthening the consumer protection regime for solar panels in Victoria

Consumer protection Fair trading regulation Utilities regulation Energy industries Sector regulation Solar energy Regulation Victoria

There is a growing recognition that the energy market is changing but the regulatory system is not keeping up. Rooftop solar systems and other new energy products and services are growing in popularity and are assuming a critical role in essential service delivery, and yet, little has been done in the way of regulatory reform to ensure that current regulatory frameworks stay relevant to the changing landscape.

The rapid growth of the solar industry, the number of players entering and exiting the industry, government financial incentives, the complexity of the technology being sold along with regulatory gaps are creating an environment in which consumer harm can thrive.

Through our casework, Consumer Action Law Centre (Consumer Action) has witnessed this harm impacting the people we help, usually people already experiencing significant vulnerability. But, we are not the only ones seeing it. Others are reporting on the same or very similar issues in the retail solar industry, contributing to a discussion about the need for change. Significantly, in 2017 the Independent Review into the Electricity & Gas Markets in Victoria Report was released recommending a number of changes in order to improve the retail energy market in recognition of the changing landscape in this sector.

Given these factors, now is an opportune time to add to the discussions already underway by doing a deep dive into the current consumer protection regime as it relates to new energy products, consider whether things could be done better and how they could be done better. This report will address these topics, focusing specifically on rooftop solar systems.

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