Consumers burned: Queensland government issues another recall notice, threatens $1.1 million fine as Avanco recall fallout continues

Consumers burned: Queensland government issues another recall notice, threatens $1.1 million fine as Avanco recall fallout continues

Cairns-based company Blueline Solar has been issued with a product safety recall notice and threatened with a fine of up to $1.1 million as the fallout from the recall of a faulty solar power circuit breaker in May continues to hit small businesses.

In May, Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie issued a recall for 27,600 Advancetech DC switches, marketed under the Avanco brand, following advice the switches may have contributed to electrical fires in homes across the state.

The circuit breakers are usually placed next to a solar panel inverter, and are used to shut off electrical current if solar panels become overloaded, as well as during maintenance.

However, a fault with the enclosure on the Avanco switches meant that, in some circumstances, moisture could enter inside the enclosure, potentially causing the switches to catch on fire.

The recalls prompted the collapse of Advancetech, with SV Partners appointed liquidators of the company on May 15, which in turn led to a spate of collapses in the Queensland solar industry.

In the latest fallout from the incident, the attorney-general has issued a recall notice to Blueline Solar and its distribution arm, Queensland Renewable Energy, which incorporated the switches into its solar systems. The order states the company has not taken sufficient action to ensure the faulty solar isolators do not harm or injure consumers.

It follows complaints by consumers to the Queensland Office of Fair Trading, who claimed they have been unable to secure a refund or replacement for faulty solar power circuit breakers purchased through the company.

Queensland Office of Fair Trading director of tactical compliance, Steve L’Barrow, told SmartCompany the large majority of the Avanco units were sold into Queensland.

“Basically, it started with the Electrical Safety Office issuing a recall on the inverter, which led to the importer going bust,” he says.

“There were a number of businesses supplied by the importer, and when it went bust, they were left carrying the bag for consumer guarantees under the Australian Consumer Law.”

L’Barrow says that as far as he’s aware, Blue Line was the last hold-out in terms of offering consumers refunds or replacements.

“In this particular recall, we understand [Blue Line] has [its] own distribution chain. It had been affected by the importers’ liquidation, which led to insurance issues,” L’Barrow says.

“Our concern was that Blue Line wasn’t doing what it needed to under Australian Consumer Law, and our understanding from Blue Line was that they were having insurance issues.”

SmartCompany contacted Blue Line Solar, but no official comment was available prior to publication.

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