Our audit program is helping to ensure that all solar PV systems installed as part of Solar Homes are safe. Auditing helps us to hold solar retailers and installers to account, coordinate with government regulatory authorities and the Clean Energy Council, and develop a deeper understanding of how the program is being delivered by the fast-growing solar industry.

We have engaged independent auditors to assess the safety and quality of solar installations as part of our rebates process. We also require every system to be checked by a licensed inspector and the issuing of a Certificate of Electrical Safety (CES) prior to connection of the solar system to the distribution network.

Under Victoria’s workplace health and safety, electrical safety and consumer protection laws it’s the role of the solar retailers and installers to ensure systems are safely installed, and to rectify any issues identified.

Where companies are found to be doing the wrong thing we will considering excluding them from the Solar Homes program.

What do our auditors look at?

Our auditors are looking at a range of matters including:

- Electrical safety
- Ensuring PV modules and inverters are on approved products lists and installed to ensure manufacturers’ warranties are intact
- Ensuring solar PV systems have been designed appropriately with correct sizing, aspect and shading tolerances, and that they are operating as expected
- Checking that installers’ accreditations, licences and required installation documentation are correct
- Speaking to customers about the professionalism and conduct of solar retailers and installers, as well as their broader customer experience

What does the audit program look like?

Our audits are risk-based, which means that we focus our audits on areas where we believe there may be emerging challenges or complaints, to get a hand of any issues. This will drive improvement in the solar sector and will stamp out issues before they emerge. Approximately 70 per cent of audits will be in Melbourne and 30 per cent in regional areas.

As part of the rebates process, we have asked householders to register for safety visits by WorkSafe during installation. The Clean Energy Regulator also performs selected post-installation audits 12 to 18 months after installation.

Households in both Melbourne and regional Victoria will be contacted by auditors to arrange a suitable time and date for the audit. Auditors will require access to your roof and bring their own equipment to perform the audit.

What happens after the audit?

Once the audit is complete, the findings of the audit will be communicated to the property owner, as well as the relevant regulators and the Clean Energy Council, if required.

The report will confirm if safety and quality standards for the installation have been met. If these standards have not been met, the solar retailer who sold the solar system and the installer who installed it will be contacted.

Retailers will be:

- advised about how the installation does not comply with safety and quality standards
- given detailed instructions as to what is required to resolve this noncompliance
- advised that the matter has been referred to Energy Safe Victoria and the Clean Energy Council, which will determine whether further action is needed

The installation will continue to be monitored until the issue has been satisfactorily remedied.

Need more information?

If you have any concerns with the way the audit is conducted, you should address the matter with the auditor in the first instance. If you’re unable to resolve your concerns, please email quality.assurance@sustainability.vic.gov.au

Risk-based factors

When looking at factors that inform the risk-based ranking of a site, the following may be considered:

Broad Risk Category Installer factors Retailer factors Location / Install factors
High

- Length of accreditation or licensing
- High than average number of installations over a given time
- Size and capacity of given system relative to the number installed (e.g. doing 20kw every day)
- High number of negative public or consumer complaints (e.g. Solar Quotes, CAV, Product Review, Google Review, Solar Victoria call centre)
- Compliance history including the number and severity of non-compliance identified during audits
- Compliance history relating to CEC, including high number of CEC Demerit Points in previous 2-years, any cancelations or suspensions of accreditation
- Equipment or workmanship trends where specific electrical components are repeatedly found to be faulty or duplicate serial numbers are used
- Referral from ESV, CEC or CER

- Company age (e.g. short start-up period)
- Company Director compliance history
- High volume of installations relative to total installs
- High number of public complaints (e.g. CAV, Solar Juice, Product Review, Google Review, Solar Victoria call centre)
- High number of negative comments or negative sentiment score on social media (e.g. from Crap Solar, Solar Cutters)
- Size and capacity of given system relative to the number installed
- Lower than average cost per kW installed or significantly higher than average
- Misleading conduct (e.g. fraudulent sales claims relating to ‘rebates ending’ or ‘never pay another bill’ etc)
- Referral from CEC, CAV, ReNew or credible industry sources

- Multiple installations in a single day and distance between installations (E.g. greater than 50 km apart metro, 150km rural. Also supports identification of CEC installer rules relating to presence at install at start, middle and end)
- Location with high installation density
- Installation occurred more than 2-months ago allowing for any water regress in electrical equipment

Medium

- Compliance history shows a high number of medium non-compliance
- Consumer rating or complaints outside average

- Retailer is a Registered Electrical Contractor with Energy Safe Victoria
- Consumer rating or complaints outside average

Remote location with low installation density

Low

- High number of positive public complaints (e.g. Solar Quote, CAV, Product Review, Google Review)
- No history of CEC Demerit Points
- Awards or commendations received from credible industry bodies (e.g. CEC)
- Part of CEC installer reference group
- Compliance history shows a low number of low-level non-compliances

- Approved Clean Energy Council Retailer
- High number of positive public complaints (e.g. CAV, Product Review, Google Review)
- Referral or recommendation from credible industry experts
- Thick market with multiple providers

- High density location characterised by above average levels of compliance
- Audit occurred less than 30 days since installation reducing period of weather exposure

 

Safety update: Updated requirements for DC isolators in Victoria

In July 2018, Energy Safe Victoria advised that Amendment 4 of AS/NZS 4417.2 introduced nine additions to the prescribed electrical equipment categories, including for DC isolators. Appendix B of AS/NZS 4417.2 outlines the additions which took effect on 30 June 2018.

As there were only a limited number of DC isolators approved, and section 57 of the Electricity Safety Act 1998 (the Act) does not provide ESV with an exemption power. To date, ESV has taken an educational approach to the supply of unapproved DC isolators into the Victorian market provided installers made every effort to source and install approved DC isolators, and that suppliers of DC isolators were in a genuine process of obtaining approval of their product.

There are currently 14 certificates for DC isolators listed on the ERAC website, which cover eight brands and over 30 models. ESV expects that installers will now only use approved DC isolators in domestic solar installations. Installers can search the list on the ERAC website.

It is an offence under section 57 of the Act to supply Level 3 or prescribed electrical equipment that has not been approved by ESV, another electrical safety state regulator or JAS-ANZ accredited third party certifier. If you have any queries or require any further information, please do not hesitate to contact Energy Safe Victoria’s Electrical Equipment Safety team on (03) 9203 9700.

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