Regulator issues warning after extra refrigerators dumped at companies under efficiency scheme

Written by Javed Iqbal

When Tim Shand heard that his Yarra Valley winery might be eligible for a refrigerator upgrade under a state energy efficiency program, he sent an email requesting a new bar refrigerator.

The next thing the general manager of Punt Road Winery knew was more than a dozen refrigerators were being delivered.

“To our surprise Tuesday afternoon, two guys in a truck stopped … and literally put 15 refrigerators on the deck before someone hit an eyelid, and seriously wanted to give us seven more,” he told ABC Radio’s Mornings program.

He said he was still unsure what to do with the extra refrigerators, and was concerned about the quality of what he had connected.

“We have actually turned on the one refrigerator that could be of use to us, and it has not become below 14 degrees in 24 hours,” Mr Shand said.

“It’s colder outside.”

In the light of reports such as Mr Shands, the public authority responsible for the program has issued a warning to operators accredited under the Victorian Energy Upgrades program.

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Investigation underway after Melbourne companies bombarded with free refrigerators
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“We are aware of the cases of a large number of refrigerators that have been dumped on the street or delivered to customers who do not want them,” said a statement from the Essential Services Commission (ESC).

The body said companies were “on alert” over the reported behavior, which it described as “completely unacceptable”.

“We will not proceed with the registration of Victorian energy efficiency certificates for multiple refrigerator installations while examining this behavior as an urgent priority,” the statement said.

“The Commission will not hesitate to take strong enforcement action against accredited persons where we find breaches of the program rules.

“This may include suspension from the program and the handing over of Victorian energy efficiency certificates.”

The cafe owner’s request for a refrigerator leads to constant phone calls

Barry Susanto, who owns Warkop cafe in Richmond, also applied for a refrigerator, but ended up getting three about six months ago.

Since then, he has received a stream of phone calls from companies offering him more refrigerators.

The outside of a cafe along a street, with a sign showing the name Warkop.
The owner of this Richmond café says that three refrigerators were supplied despite the fact that only one was requested.(ABC News: Tara Whitchurch)

“We got it six months ago, and until now, we’ll get at least one phone call with a refrigerator every 10 days,” he told Mornings.

“I also have friends who run businesses that can not get anyone even if they have applied for it.”

The state opposition has criticized the program, and the Minister for the Environment and Climate Change, James Newbury, describes the program as an “expensive farce”.

He said the program had both an environmental and economic damage.

The Committee urges anyone with information on dumping practices to: make a report via email or by phone.

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Javed Iqbal

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