5 July 2012: The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission on Thursday  said it had accepted enforceable undertakings from solar panel suppliers Polaris Solar Pty Ltd and ACT Renewable Energy Pty Ltd for carbon price claims regarding the impact of the carbon price on household electricity prices that the ACCC considered were likely to mislead.

Between October 2011 and February 2012 in Western Australia, and January 2012 and February 2012 in the ACT the companies  “produced and distributed leaflet advertisements to households promoting the sale of solar panels by claiming that electricity prices would increase by 20 per cent due to the introduction of the carbon price alone, and that if this continued, by 2019 electricity prices would increase by over 400 per cent,” the ACCC said in a statement.

The ACCC said that the advertisements represented that the figures were based on independent studies when in fact they were based on unverified claims in a newspaper advertisement.

“The ACCC is of the view that these representations were clearly misleading. There was no reasonable basis for these claims to be made,” ACCC acting chairman Michael Schaper said.

“Polaris Solar and ACT Renewable Energy have fully cooperated with the ACCC, offering to:

  • not engage in similar conduct in the future; and
  • ensure all of its Directors attend practical training on the Australian Consumer Law.

“If a business claims that a potential price rise is linked to the carbon price, the claim must be truthful and have a reasonable basis,” Dr Schaper said.

“Businesses must be careful in relying on unverified statements by third parties, including those made in newspaper articles and advertisements about the impact of the carbon price, as a basis for their claims.”

The ACCC is investigating any other related claims that come to its attention, the commission said.

A guide for carbon price claims is available on this website: www.accc.gov.au/carbon.