Sanctuary Energy referred to Fair Trading

NINE-PAGES: NSW energy and water watchdog Clare Petre detailed the complaints.
NINE-PAGES: NSW energy and water watchdog Clare Petre detailed the complaints.

THE NSW Energy and Water Ombudsman has raised serious concerns about the operation of Sanctuary Energy after hundreds of customer complaints.

A nine-page letter sent to the Central Coast-based company last Friday detailed an extensive list of complaints made over the past 2 years.

Delays in the installation and connection of solar arrays, eligibility for the feed-in tariff under the NSW Solar Bonus Scheme, poor customer service and failure to respond to customer issues were the main areas of concern.

Most of the complaints were dealt with at a complaint inquiry level.

‘‘This reflects the fact that the key issue of concern for customers has been the purchase and installation of solar arrays, over which the Energy and Water Ombudsman has no jurisdiction,’’ Ombudsman Clare Petre said.

A significant number of the complaints were referred to NSW Fair Trading.

The Newcastle Herald revealed last week that about 80 of the company’s Hunter customers would pay hundreds of dollars extra a year because it would not honour their solar bonus scheme contracts.

The customers signed contracts for a 50-50 deal that provided them with an up-front solar system plus 50per cent of the 60¢-per-kilowatt-hour rebate.

The company recently advised the customers it would now pay a 20per cent rebate rather than the original amount.

It said the action was necessary because Ausgrid had lost about 80 of its connection applications.

Ausgrid has rejected the claim.

Sanctuary Energy director Mark Marjoribanks has accused the government of not providing assistance.

‘‘If these government departments had assisted Sanctuary Energy when we requested assistance, then the majority of these issues would have been dealt with by now,’’ he said yesterday.