On August 8 over 200 disgruntled solar installers and consumers descended on Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews’ office as part of the second rally of its kind to force the Andrews government to ameliorate the unintentionally destructive effects of the Solar Homes scheme. Among the rallying crowd a growing sense of frustration was festering into a suspicion that, among many concerns, some installers in the industry were ‘gaming’ the Solar Homes portal and ‘harvesting’ as many as 50 of the limited number of rebates in a minute.
In response to these suspicions, Solar Victoria recently investigated claims that some operators had employed the use of artificial intelligence to siphon more than their fair share of monthly solar rebate allocations.
However, the investigation proved to be even more disappointing than the Mueller Report, not only did Solar Victoria find no evidence of Trump-style collusion but the investigation found no evidence of interference by artificial intelligence at all.
Of course, the lack of evidence of interference doesn’t explain why allocations are scooped up “as quick as 50 rebates going a minute”, according to Solar Cutters co-founder Jack Long. For those still harbouring suspicions, Solar Victoria’s investigations leave little to chew on, after all, there are only a few possibilities.
Firstly, Solar Victoria is manipulating their results, which is as unlikely as any conspiracy theory. Secondly, that the solar installers ‘gaming’ the system have AI so advanced that it is as yet undetectable, and therefore the envy of U.S., Russian and Chinese security services. Or thirdly, that the Solar Homes portal is a bureaucratic dogs-breakfast that can’t manage the desperate rush of solar installers wishing to get their fair-share of an artificially limited supply of rebates.
Applying Occam’s Razor, the simplest answer tending to be the correct one, we can probably all agree that the incompetence of the runout of Solar Homes, which has, after all, been the cause of all this fuss in the first place, is also to blame for the ‘gaming’ concern.
This logical conclusion is further substantiated by Solar Victoria’s admission that “errors such as ‘quote not found’ caused some customers frustration when trying to secure a quota allocation.” And, moreover, that “there were also reports of a ‘spinning wheel’ when … people tried to access the portal before 9am opening time on 1 August.” This last concession seems particularly remiss considering the entire quota of rebates were snapped up within 90 minutes of opening time.
Solar Victoria claim their investigations were of a statistically significant sample size of transactions and, with “high confidence”, can “rule out automated interaction with the portal.” Though Solar Victoria warned that it will re-open investigations if any retailers are suspected of “not transacting in the spirit of the scheme”.
Solar Victoria claims it has listened to feedback and “will soon allow retailers to upload draft quotes at any time in the month, regardless of whether the rebate allocation has been exhausted or not.”
Supposedly this will “mean significantly less stress when customers log in to find their details at 9am on Monday September 2. The date was moved forward by one day following industry feedback that a weekend release was not ideal.”
Whilst conspiracy theories may have to be dispelled, the theory that Solar Homes has done more harm than good is now widely accepted.