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Sparkies endorse Victorian Government’s safety-first approach to solar panels

August 19, 2018

Master Electricians Australia today endorsed the Victoria Government’s plan to provide solar power to 650,000 homes, and praised the emphasis on quality components and safe installation techniques.

However, MEA Chief Executive Officer Malcolm Richards also urged the government to expand the program to include funding for battery storage and safety switches, to maximise the energy efficiency and safety benefits of the scheme.

“We welcome the Government’s announcement that it will dedicate a portion of the funding to ensure adequate training for installers, and its commitment to using approved products,” Mr Richards said.

“We’ve seen some disastrous results from Governments meddling in the energy efficiency market in the last decade in Australia, including fires and fatalities due to the use of poor equipment and poorly-trained installers.

“So it’s refreshing and very welcome to see the emphasis on safety and quality.  Master Electricians Australia particularly endorses this aspect of the proposed program.”

Mr Richards warned that the addition of so much generation capacity to the state’s power grid could have unforeseen consequences due to over supply of power on hot days.

He urged the Government to consider extending the rebate to domestic battery units, which could smooth the supply and demand peaks in the networks, relieving the need to build more generation capacity in the grid in the future.

He also urged the Government and home owners to consider the need for safety switches, as part of such a widespread electrical program.

“Saving money on your power bill is one thing, but saving lives is another thing altogether,” Mr Richards said.

“We know that safety switches can cut the power in the event of an electrical incident faster than the critical phase of a heartbeat.

“But we also know that many homes in Victoria do not have safety switches on every circuit, and some have no safety switches at all.

“There are 15 people killed and 300 hospitalised in Australia every year because of domestic electrical accidents that could be prevented with safety switches.

“While the Government is funding electrical work at 650,000 homes, it could move to ensure the safety of those home owners by requiring a minor investment in safety switches while the sparkie is on site.

“We think this program is good.  If it can be broadened to include batteries and safety switches, it could propel Victoria to the top of all Australian states for energy safety and efficiency.”

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