The Office of Renewable Energy Regulator (ORER) (now known as the Clean Energy Regulator) administers a market driven scheme to encourage the use of renewable energy resources, including PV systems. PV systems are placed on the roof of a property and generate electrical power.
The defendant was a distributor who organised the installation of PV systems. Distributors usually gave a point of sale discount to the home-owner, in return for the home-owner assigning their rights to create Small Scale Technology Certificates (STC) which are a tradable commodity.
Once the installation is complete and able to produce power from the sun, the following takes place:
- compliance paperwork (STC Assignment Forms and tax invoices) is sent to the agent (in this case CoZero) for processing;
- the agent then uploads the information from the forms to the REC Registry, at which time the STC Forms are created; and
- the agent then pays the distributor for the value of the STCs, usually less some commission depending on who lodged the forms. The agent then trades the STCs, or they can trade the STCs first and then pay the proceeds to the distributor.
ORER is only involved as part of the compliance and validation process, and may decide to audit, otherwise ORER does not see the STC Assignment Forms.
The defendant produced false and misleading STC Assignment Forms to agent Cozero Pty Ltd and as a result STCs were created on the REC Registry by CoZero.
To this end, the defendant engaged in the following:
- either he, or salesmen he employed, signed up around 24 home-owners to install PV solar systems;
- either he or his salesman took deposits from each home-owner;
- he failed to install the PV solar systems;
- he failed to return deposits;
- he received a deposit from a homeowner and falsely stated that the deposit had been returned to the homeowner, when in fact it had not;
- he forged home-owners’ signatures on the STC Assignment Forms;
- he forged installers’ signatures on the STC Assignment Forms, which confirmed that installations had taken place when in fact they had not;
- he submitted the forged paperwork to CoZero; and
- in return, CoZero created the STCs on the REC Registry and paid the defendant a total of approximately just over $60,000.
The defendant pleaded guilty to 24 counts of producing a false or misleading document pursuant to section 137.2(1) of the Criminal Code and 1 count of dishonestly making a false or misleading statement with the intention of obtaining a financial advantage pursuant to section 192G(b) of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW).
On 31 August 2012 in the NSW Local Court the defendant was sentenced to a total effective penalty of 18 months home detention to be released after serving 9 months on condition that he be of good behaviour for 2 years. In sentencing the defendant the court stated that the defendant had exploited a legitimate government process for personal profit and such conduct must be deterred.