Tasmanian installer convicted and two agents suspended following Regulator’s investigations

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After growing its arsenal of solar fraud-detection tools and taking over as sole regulator of the federal solar scheme last year, the Clean Energy Regulator’s investigations have led to the prosecution of one Tasmanian solar installer and the suspension of two agents. Of the two suspended agents, ECA Energy Solutions lost its registration for one year while the second, Super Chief, has been permanently suspended.

Tasmanian installer convicted

Robert Andrew Camplin has been convicted of providing false or misleading information after he was found to have supplied a “false system owner signature” on a Small-scale Technology Certificate (STC) assignment form. STCs dictate the total rebate solar owners get from the government, and their fraudulent creation has been named by the Regulator as one of the key areas on which it will now crackdown.  

After the Regulator took its investigation into Camplin to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions, the 49-year-old Tasmanian solar panel installer was prosecuted in the Launceston Magistrates Court. He has entered into a recognisance of $1,000 to be of good behaviour for two years and was ordered to pay the court costs.

Camplin’s accreditation as a solar installer has been cancelled by the Clean Energy Council.

A spokesperson for the Clean Energy Council told pv magazine Australia that in instances “where we deem fit… the person may never re-apply for accreditation,” though it did not specify whether that would apply here.

Camplin appears to have been operating under an ABN he registered for ‘Camplin Electrical’ back in 2006, though he also registered the company name ‘Sunrise Solar and Storage’ in February 2021.

“We have zero tolerance for fraudulently created STCs whether through fraudulent signatures or false or misleading statements,” Piet Powell, the regulator’s General Manager Compliance told pv magazine Australia.

Agents suspended

The Clean Energy Regulator has also suspended the registration and Renewable Energy Certificate (REC) Registry accounts of two agents, saying it has found them “no longer fit and proper under the Renewable Energy (Electricity) Act 2000.”

ECA Energy Solutions

The first, ECA Energy Solutions Pty Ltd , has been suspended for one year from October  2021 after the Regulator found it provided false and misleading information to other registered agents who use that information to create STCs.

This is somewhat confusing since agents like ECA Energy Solutions are usually the final stop in certificate creation, using the information given to them by installers and retailers to create certificates. 

ECA Energy Solutions, however, also have a retail branch. It was in the company’s capacity as a retailer that it provided false and misleading information to other registered agents, the Regulator confirmed. 

Super Chief

The second, Super Chief Pty Ltd, has been permanently suspended after it was found to have created STCs that it was not entitled to create. The Regulator also found the company’s officers were previously involved in other companies that had been suspended from the scheme due to improper conduct, seemingly alluding to the practice of “phoenixing.”

“In the event that office holders of either ECA Energy or Super Chief attempt to re-enter the scheme through different companies we will take these suspensions into account and may refuse registration,” the Regulator said.

Regulator’s power extended

In December 2021, amendments to the  Renewable Energy (Electricity) Regulations 2001 passed into law. The amendments were made in response to the Integrity Review of the Rooftop Solar PV Sector which was finally published in September of last year after months of delay. The review was requested by the Federal Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction, Angus Taylor, in August 2020.

Previously the regulatory structure of the Commonwealth’s Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme meant the Clean Energy Regulator was better positioned to pursue agents who created the STC certificates than installers and retailers which actually supplied the false information. This structure has now changed.

The Clean Energy Regulator is also now able to disqualify installers and designers, retailers and components from participating in the SRES scheme.

It has been holding webinars this month aimed at informing the industry about how to comply with the changes. From 1 April 2022, new requirements for solar retailers to provide written statements to agents claiming STCs will also be introduced. 

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