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Free fridge upgrade, carbon credit scheme paused

A pause has been put on a Victorian government program which allows business to upgrade ageing fridges. Picture: James Gourley
A pause has been put on a Victorian government program which allows business to upgrade ageing fridges. Picture: James Gourley

A comical amount of fridges is being dumped on the doorsteps of Victorian businesses after appliance installers figured how to rort a government program for carbon credits.

The Victorian Energy Upgrade program was announced last month to encourage businesses to replace ageing appliances with more energy-efficient ones.

Installers who set up the appliances in homes and businesses would be awarded with carbon credits, which could be sold to electricity retailers, who are required by law to show they are working to reduce emissions.

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The sale of carbon credits was so profitable for installers, they began dropping off unwanted fridges for free at businesses across the state.

The Andrews Government has urgently suspended the carbon credits program until it launches a full review of how the scheme was being manipulated.

The Victorian Essential Services Commission has said the behaviour was unacceptable.

A fridge LaManna and Sons received as part of the scheme. Picture: Supplied
A fridge LaManna and Sons received as part of the scheme. Picture: Supplied

“We are aware of instances of large numbers of refrigerated cabinets being dumped on the street or provided to customers who don’t want them,” the ESC said.

“Businesses accredited under the Victorian Energy Upgrades program are on notice that we will not tolerate this behaviour.”

Victorian business owners were left confused when dozens of fridges began to pile up outside their premises.

LaManna and Sons co-owner Jordan LaManna called 3AW radio station last week to say he had received around 40 fridges across his four businesses located in Richmond and South Yarra.

The ESC said they will take strong enforcement action against persons in breach of the program. Picture: Supplied
The ESC said they will take strong enforcement action against persons in breach of the program. Picture: Supplied

“I thought it was a scam and then realised it wasn’t,” he said after he was approached by an installer.

“We thought we would just get a couple, but they just kept rocking up.”

Payten and Jones Winery owner Ben Payten said he applied for the program but was shocked to receive 11 fridges over the course of a few weeks.

“We’ve put probably four of them to use and the other ones are just sitting there and we’re just trying to figure out what to do them,” Mr Payten said.

The ESC said it will not hesitate to take strong enforcement action against accredited persons where it discovers breaches of the program’s rules.

This could include suspension from the program and the surrender of Victorian energy efficiency certificates.

“The dumping of these appliances on public thoroughfares must stop and we will alert the relevant authorities,” they said.

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