Consumer Watchdog Quashes Solar Greenwash Down Under


In a case of successful public enforcement against greenwashing, two solar panel retailers have amended their ads after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) found their marketing statements potentially misleading and deceptive (see the Smart Company article here and the Ecogeneration piece here).

According to the ACCC, Queensland Solar Systems and State Solar Services admitted their ads had likely violated the Australian Trade Practices Act.

The advertising statements at issue included a claim that a 1.5 kilowatt system would “wipe out” a household electricity bill when a system of that output would actually generate only about a third of the energy needs for most homes.

Other claims related to pricing and misled consumers about discounted rates and the periods when discounts were available. 

In particular, the companies did not make clear that certain discounts were available only to customers who were eligible for renewable energy certificates offered by the Australian government.

Both companies will be required to publish corrective notices in regional newspapers, an industry magazine and on the companies’ web sites.  They will also have to contact past customers to inform them of the companies’ conduct and set up a compliance program.

The ACCC has had other notable successes in policing greenwashing. 

In 2008, a probe by the consumer watchdog agency forced Goodyear to admit that it could not substantiate advertising claims that its Eagle LS2000 tire has “minimal environmental impact,” improves fuel economy and is produced by a process that results in reduced carbon dioxide emissions.

Eric Lane Avatar

Eric Lane

Eric Lane, the founder and principal of Green Patent Law, is an intellectual property lawyer and registered U.S. patent attorney in New York and is a member of the bar in New York and California. Eric has more than two decades of experience working with wind, solar PV, CSP, biofuels, and geothermal, energy storage technologies, carbon capture and sequestration, medical devices, data communications, mechanical, chemical, internet and software.