On 13 September 2023, His Honour Justice Derrington of the Federal Court ordered civil penalties totalling $240,000 against E Connect Solar & Electrical Pty Ltd (in liquidation) and 2 individuals - a current and former director.
The court found that E Connect Solar & Electrical Pty Ltd and the 2 directors deliberately contravened the Renewable Energy (Electricity) Act 2000 (REE Act) by providing false information about the accredited installer who completed 38 solar PV installations in late 2019 and early 2020.
The false information was then relied upon by a renewable energy certificate agent to improperly create Small-scale Technology Certificates (STCs) in the Renewable Energy Certificate Registry.
After the commencement of proceedings but before the final hearing, E Connect Solar & Electrical Pty Ltd entered into voluntary administration.
The court ordered that:
In the judgement, His Honour said that that ‘those industry participants who are subject to the REE Act should not be left in any doubt as to the cost of their non-compliance with its requirements. The appropriate penalty must send a strong message to other businesses that do not comply with the legislation, to the effect that they cannot obtain a competitive advantage over those that do.’
As a result of the CER’s action, the CEC suspended the accreditation of the directors who falsely said they had undertaken the installations.
Ms Piet Powell General Manager of the CER’s Compliance Branch said today’s civil penalties again show that the CER has zero tolerance for those who are deliberately non-compliant.
‘Those who attempt to benefit from making false statements regarding STC eligibility will get caught and we will use our full suite of powers to get this message across. We expect information provided in our schemes to be true and correct and we will take enforcement action where it is warranted under our Compliance, Education and Enforcement Policy.’
‘Since February 2022, the CER has prosecuted 3 installers who have been convicted of providing false information or documents. We also have several active investigations which we expect to lead to more convictions and civil penalties,’ said Ms Powell.
Participants within the scheme that are aware of fraudulent activity should report it. Those who don’t report may be subject to further assessment of whether they are eligible to participate in CER schemes.
In December 2021, amendments to the Renewable Energy (Electricity) Regulations 2001 passed into law. The amendments respond to recommendations made in the Integrity Review of the Rooftop Solar PV Sector and provide the CER with additional powers to disqualify installers, designers, retailers and component manufacturers from participating in the SRES.
If you have any information about potential fraudulent behaviour or activities in CER administered schemes, please contact us at email@example.com or phone 1300 553 542.
See further information on compliance and enforcement.
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