Member for Dawson George Christensen discusses the problem with Marilyn Hastings and Darren Jones, of Parkview Gardens Retirement Village.
Member for Dawson George Christensen discusses the problem with Marilyn Hastings and Darren Jones, of Parkview Gardens Retirement Village. Lee Constable

Solar panels in shambles

ABOUT $250,000 worth of solar panels at an East Mackay retirement village are ticking time bombs ready to go off.

If anyone turns off the electricity supply to any one of 30 solar panels, which are incorrectly wired, a fire could break out.

Residents have called the fiasco a mess, a shambles and a bureaucratic bungle and there is no solution in sight because no-one will repair the faults for fear of being held liable.

“It's a complete shambles,” Park Haven Garden retirement village manager Darren Jones said.

Resident Marilyn Hastings said: “I've been doing all the toing and froing and it's been a massive effort.

“It's a lot of bureaucracy.”

There are 36 units in the village in Scott St. Residents were approached by a company called Sanctuary Solar, which promised it could install solar systems that, after government rebates, would virtually cost them nothing.

So 30 of the residents took up the offer.

Sanctuary Solar then became DCM Solar, then DCM Green. Now, it is in administration.

The company gained headlines for helping “green” Cate Blanchett's Sydney Theatre Company, and billed itself as one of the largest solar panel installers in Australia, focused on retirement homes and villages.

It claimed to have installed solar panels on 6500 retirement home units across New South Wales alone, and to have installed 10% of the panels put in place under the Federal Government's Solar Homes and Communities Program.

It was placed in the hands of administrators on March 10.

The solar systems at Park Haven Garden have been wrongly wired – especially the DC breakers – and the connections between the solar panels and the main power supply are potential fire hazards.

Meters, which are supposed to record power going out to Ergon Energy, are registering electricity coming in, which means everyone has incorrectly had their electricity bills almost doubled. Ergon is addressing this part of the problem for residents.

An inverter system is also not switched on and it seems the installers switched the solar panels on without notifying Ergon Energy.

Another major hurdle for residents is that the installer came from NSW and, under the Federal Government scheme, the installer had to come from Queensland.

Since the installers went into administration, there have been two inspections of the units but no-one will touch any of the faulty work.

“It's been a comedy of errors from the start,” Member for Dawson George Christensen said.

“The installation has been botched and homes could burn down.

“I've been involved since last November and still the government won't do anything.

“This is another pink batts fiasco.

“No-one will fix it because of liability issues and there are potential insurance problems for unit owners.

“The problem has been there for a year now.

“The problem is that no checks were done by any government authority on who was doing the work and the quality of the work.

“Anything which could go wrong with it has gone wrong.

“I am calling on the Federal Government to fix it.

“The safety of these residents is at risk.”

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