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Voluntary code of conduct authorised for solar retail firms

30 September, 2013

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has granted authorisation for five years to the Clean Energy Council Limited (CEC) for a voluntary code of conduct for solar photovoltaic (PV) retail businesses (the Code).

The Code imposes standards upon retail businesses for the marketing and sale of solar PV systems, which are in addition to their existing obligations under consumer protection legislation.

The CEC is a not-for-profit association responsible for the accreditation of PV designers and installers. The CEC is already able to penalise any accredited installer that fails to install a PV system to the relevant Australian Standard. However, the retailers that sub-contract installers are not covered by a standard other than existing consumer protection legislation.

The Code will allow for the regulation of retailers of solar PV systems to ensure that retailers maintain a standard that will benefit consumers and the industry.

"The retail purchase of PV solar systems is generally a one-off, relatively complicated purchase for consumers and may involve dealing with several parties," Dr Jill Walker, ACCC Commissioner, said.

"The Code will promote confidence in the PV sector by giving information to consumers to assist in purchasing decisions. The Code will also promote compliance by PV retailers through sanctions and public reporting mechanisms."

The ACCC released a draft determination in July 2013 proposing to grant authorisation to the CEC for its Code for a period of five years. All submissions received following the draft determination were supportive of the authorisation.

The ACCC has authorised the CEC Code until 17 October 2018.

Authorisation provides statutory protection from court action for conduct that might otherwise raise concerns under the competition provisions of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010. Broadly, the ACCC may grant an authorisation when it is satisfied that the public benefit from the conduct outweighs any public detriment.

The ACCC's decision is available on the authorisation register.