Vic energy program probed over fridges

·2-min read

A Victorian scheme offering free installation of energy-efficient fridges in businesses is under investigation after allegations of rorting.

Large numbers of fridges are being dumped on the street or given to customers who don't want them as part of the Victorian Energy Upgrades program, the scheme's administrator has confirmed.

The Victorian government program was created to replace ageing and energy-inefficient appliances, with installers allocated carbon credits to then on-sell to energy retailers to offset their emissions.

The Essential Services Commission has suspended registration of energy efficiency certificates for multiple installations while it probes the rorting allegations.

"The commission will not hesitate to take strong enforcement action against accredited persons where we find breaches of the program rules," the commission said in a statement on Friday.

This could include suspension from the program and surrender of energy efficiency certificates, it said.

"The dumping of these appliances on public thoroughfares must stop and we will alert the relevant authorities."

Brandon LaManna, founder of LaManna and Sons, said his business has received between 30 to 40 fridges across its four stores.

He never applied for the fridges and thought it was scam when first approached.

"Before you know they just kept rocking up. We're utilising them, of course, but we did not need them," he told Melbourne radio station 3AW.

"It just seems ludicrous to offset this carbon ... with fridges that are made overseas, then shipped to Australia, then delivered by a petrol-guzzling truck. We're honestly baffled."

Several other businesses have reported similar stories, prompting Opposition Leader Matthew Guy to question the scheme's management.

"How the hell can you get to a situation where cafes are being given 40 fridges. This is insanity, it's ridiculous," he told reporters.

The state government agency in charge of the program's policy framework, the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, has been contacted for comment.

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