Consumer energy resources complaints and case studies

Table 10 – Complaints involving behind the meter products by service provider, April to June 2023

Service provider

Complaints opened involving behind the meter products

Electricity > network > authorised


Electricity > not allocated


Electricity > retail > authorised


Electricity > retail > exempt *




* Consumer Energy Resources within embedded networks or exempt sellers offering solar powered purchase arrangements (SPPA) 

Click here to view the Top 10 core issues for closed complaints involving behind the meter products, April to June 2023


Consumer Energy Resource dispute resolution 

EWON’s jurisdiction for energy complaints was founded on the traditional relationship between distributors, energy retailers and customers. The uptake of Consumer Energy Resources (CER), including rooftop solar, batteries, electric vehicles and associated services such as microgrids and virtual power plants, is a key part for Australia’s transition to renewable energy. 

Companies selling CER products and services, such as solar and battery retailers, are not required to become members of EWON. This means many complaints about these services are outside EWON’s jurisdiction. However, complaints made to EWON about energy retailers, and electricity distributors, frequently involve customers that own or use these technologies. It is increasingly difficult to separate a complaint about traditional network and retail services from the issues a customer is also experiencing with CER.  

Where solar or battery products and services are sold to a customer by an authorised energy retailer, therefore a member of EWON, we look to resolve the whole complaint. However, we are currently unable to assist customers where the entity selling CER products and services has no connection to an authorised energy retailer. Instead, those customers can seek redress through NSW Fair Trading or the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal.  

An effective consumer protection framework including provision of free, fair and independent dispute resolution needs to be established to include all aspects of transformation of the energy sector to renewables. The development of an overarching consumer framework for CER in NSW would help protect customers by providing a clear pathway for dispute resolution and promote a level playing field for all retailers. 

The case studies below illustrate how we are now managing complaints that involve CER technologies and services where the complaint is about an existing EWON member, and how we manage a complaint when it is about a non-member of our ombudsman scheme. 


EWON members providing CER products and services  

Inaccurate savings quoted for rooftop solar  

A customer accepted a quote from his energy retailer for a rooftop solar system. The quote included the estimated savings the customer would receive after installing the system. The estimates were based on the expected performance of the system, the energy plan rates, and usage. The quote indicated that his bills would change from $450 a quarter to putting him credit by $7 a quarter – a saving of $457 a quarter. 

After the solar installation was complete, the customer noticed his electricity bills remained the same, and then started to increase. He was concerned the quote from the retailer wasn’t accurate. He contacted his retailer to discuss the bills, and his expectations that the bills would decrease after investing $5,000 in a rooftop solar system. He contacted EWON because the issue was unresolved, and we referred his complaint back to a specialist resolution team at the retailer to contact the customer. 

The customer returned to EWON and said the retailer had indicated that since his system had been installed, his electricity consumption and the price of electricity had both increased. EWON contacted the retailer who said the solar savings were estimated using a different electricity tariff to the one on the bill provided by the customer, but it notified the customer of this through a disclaimer on the quote. Some information about how the quote was calculated couldn’t be provided as the sales consultant had since left the retailer. The retailer had also tested the customer’s electricity meter without charge and offered a customer service gesture of $150. The customer’s meter passed the accuracy test.  

EWON obtained advice from its technical consultant about the performance of the solar system, and the customer’s electricity usage from the grid compared to the solar generated by his system. The technical consultant advised that the customer’s solar system appeared to be performing as expected and that the customer was exporting up to 70% of the electricity generated by the system. The consultant indicated the solar quote had underestimated his average daily usage which meant the estimated bill savings were unlikely to be realised. 

 We discussed our review with the customer. He thought the complaint would be resolved if his current bills were adjusted to reflect the suggested savings in the solar quote. EWON calculated the difference between the customer’s current bills and the estimated savings from the solar quote to be $1,150. After further discussions, the retailer offered to provide a $1,150 credit to resolve the complaint. The customer accepted this offer as a resolution to the complaint. 


 Delays with the installation of rooftop solar  

A customer arranged for a rooftop solar system to be installed at her property through her energy retailer. When the agreed four-to-six-week timeframe had passed, she contacted the retailer to get an update. The retailer said it was waiting for confirmation from her local electricity distributor that the connection of the system had been approved. The customer contacted the retailer again one month later because the system had still not been installed. The retailer advised that the delay was then due to staff shortages during a holiday period. The customer followed up with the retailer once a month for the next two months about the continued delay. In the final call, she asked to be called back by a manager. She complained to EWON that the manager hadn’t called her back and that she had experienced poor customer service from the retailer. EWON referred her complaint to a specialist resolution team at the retailer to contact the customer. 

The customer returned to EWON as the retailer had not contacted her. EWON requested information from the retailer about the installation delay, and the billing of her electricity account. The retailer advised that the contract was to upgrade an existing rooftop solar system and install battery storage. The retailer said a smart meter had been installed at the property and the eight-month delay was caused by the distributor's application processing to connect the upgraded system to the network.  

 The retailer completed the installation of the solar upgrade and battery approximately one month after we made inquiries about the account. After the system upgrade was completed, the retailer offered to resolve the complaint by providing the customer with a credit for the feed-in tariffs the customer would have received had there not been a nine-month delay to the installation. The customer accepted a $2,000 credit from the retailer as resolution to the complaint. 


Solar retailers (non-EWON members) 

 Customer cannot tell why his electricity bills didn’t decrease after installing solar  

A customer arranged through a solar retailer for a rooftop solar system to be installed at his property. After 12 months, he noticed his electricity bills were the same amount as before the system was installed. He contacted the solar retailer to discuss the bills because he thought there might be a problem with the system he purchased. The solar retailer sent a technician to check the performance, but the outcome remained unchanged. The customer contacted NSW Fair Trading and it referred him to EWON and the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT). 

 EWON advised the customer that any complaint about the performance of his system was not within our jurisdiction. We checked the national metering database to ensure that the customer’s electricity meter was correctly registered to export solar energy to the grid. We also provided the customer with information about electricity tariffs and suggested that he speak with his energy retailer (an EWON member), as it may help him identify why his bills hadn’t been reduced after installing a rooftop solar system. 


 Solar retailer fails to apply for a new connection for the rooftop solar system 

A customer installed a rooftop solar system through a solar retailer two to three years earlier but had recently identified he wasn’t receiving a feed-in tariff for the energy his system was generating and exporting to the electricity grid. The customer contacted his energy retailer (an EWON member) and was told that his house was not registered for solar on the national metering database. He tried to obtain the paperwork submitted at the time of the installation. He had been unable to obtain the information from the solar retailer and it refused to provide him with the contact details for the installer that was contracted to complete the work. The customer’s energy retailer advised that they may not be able to reimburse him for the lost solar credits. 

 EWON advised the customer that any complaint about the performance of his system was not within our jurisdiction. EWON referred him to Fair Trading NSW to make a complaint about the service provided by the solar retailer. EWON also invited the customer to return to us if he required a review of the billing provided by his energy retailer. 


 Vulnerable customer purchases solar system through finance company 

An advocate contacted EWON on behalf of a customer. The customer had arranged the installation of a rooftop solar system through a solar retailer 12 months earlier. The advocate said the customer was vulnerable at the time they purchased the system and has since passed away. The system was purchased through a third-party finance company and the advocate was concerned that the solar retailer took advantage of the situation. The customer’s husband was now responsible for paying $330 per month for a $23,000 loan for the rooftop solar system. The advocate has sought advice from Legal Aid NSW, and it suggested he contact EWON in the first instance for help resolving the complaint.  

EWON advised the advocate that any complaint about the sale of the rooftop solar system was not within our jurisdiction. EWON suggested the customer could speak to Legal Aid again, as they had already complained to NSW Fair Trading.