The Clean Energy Council (CEC) is in the process of developing a ‘Code of Conduct’ for Australian solar photovoltaic (PV) system installers. The code, which installers will sign on to voluntarily, has been created in order to bring a widely agreed-upon standard of ethical conduct to sales and marketing practices across the industry with the aim of strengthening consumer confidence and to improving the reputation of the industry as a whole.
Until now, the only official check on solar PV installers has been the accreditation process, whose purpose is to ensure a grasp of the technical skills necessary to design and install systems properly and to relevant standards. Once accredited, installers and companies compete with one another on reputation, products, and prices, but no official 3rd party certification of the ethics of their business practices has hitherto existed. The Code of Conduct will cover 4 areas: Pre-sale activities, post-sale activities, documentation, and general business obligations of those who sign on.
Unscrupulous business practices have been a scourge of the industry to date, with the misconduct of the ‘cowboys’ resulting in an increase in the number of complaints to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), and occasionally exploding into larger scandals picked up by the media. Such incidents have damaged the reputation of the solar PV industry as a whole. The Code is intended to be an antidote to this, as well as a way for the ‘good guys’ to verifiably differentiate themselves.
A brandmark for the Code is also under development. This easily recognisable logo will allow solar customers to instantly recognise whether a retailer/installer is a signatory of the Code, thereby ensuring a high likelihood that they will follow relevant consumer protection laws. Code signatories will promise not to engage in misleading or high-pressure sales or marketing tactics, and will offer at minimum a 5-year workmanship warranty on the systems they install.
The CEC is now in the process of conducting a legal review the Code before a final version is decided on. Interested retailers are invited to give feedback on the current version of the document. Feedback and request for more information should be directed to CodeofConduct@cleanenergycouncil.org.au. Once a sufficient number of installers have expressed interest, the Code will be formally submitted to the ACCC.
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