Australians want to go green, but it’s hard keeping up with technology

Some Australians have found it difficult to purchase and use new energy technologies.

Some Australians have found it difficult to purchase and use new energy technologies. Photo: Getty/TND

Most Australians want to go green. They want to get rid of gas-guzzling cars. They want solar panels on their roofs and batteries powering their homes.

Yet the majority of us haven’t made the switch.

Why? It’s down, partly, to the fact we are being bamboozled by pushy energy sales people and confusing jargon.

Tradies installing new technologies aren’t helping the transition either. And some sellers are outright lying.

That’s the finding of a new report looking at the barriers to moving to an equitable, net-zero carbon society.

Climate Council senior researcher Carl Tidemann said technologies and appliances have advanced rapidly, but many tradies might not be across the changes.

“There’s potentially a need to make sure that installers and the actual tradespeople who are at the pointy end are also providing correct information,” Mr Tidemann said.

“I think most of these people are working just within their knowledge set, but perhaps there’s a need for further training or refresher courses.”

A new info hub will help Australian’s navigate new energy technology. Photo: Getty Images

Where to turn

“We know that millions of Australians have already bought and installed rooftop solar panels, and increasingly are purchasing home batteries and electric vehicles,” said Lynne Gallagher, CEO, Energy Consumers Australia (ECA).

“But we also know that for some who have gone through it, the process has been challenging, confusing and even disappointing.”

ECA has launched a one-stop shop called Plug In, to help consumers.

“Australians need to be able to find information that explains the kind of products that meet their individual needs, how to find a reputable supplier and installer, how to use these technologies for their own benefit and what to do if something goes wrong,” Ms Gallagher said.

Plug In was made after a request from state and federal energy ministers and following a review by the Clean Energy Regulator (CER), which found a need for “stronger safeguards” and “better access to trustworthy information”.

Regulation is key

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) told the review it had received “a large volume of complaints concerning the consumer experience with retail solar panels”.

And where can people go if they are worried they have been misled by a tradie?

Not to the state electricity and water ombudsman offices. Neither office can investigate complaints against retailers – despite calling for the power to do so.

“Complaints about new energy services often involve multiple service providers and require customers to navigate several forums in search of a satisfactory response,” New South Wales Electricity and Water Ombudsman Janine Young said.

A CER spokesperson said that if the regulator finds solar retailers making false written statements, it has the power to declare them ineligible from being able to make such written statements in the future.

“This has the effect of removing solar retailers from operating in the small-scale renewable energy scheme.”

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