Vic electrical contractor accreditation a bright idea: ACCC

According to the ACCC, the group of five electrical contractors are seeking approval for the accreditation scheme to address concerns that independently commissioned electricity works are not always carried out to an appropriate level of safety and quality to be connected to the distribution network. The proposal requires contractors undertaking infrastructure work to have key staff TAFE-trained, and be accredited to Australian and international standards.If the accreditation scheme is authorised, the ACCC said it would provide immunity from competition-related court action for conduct that might otherwise raise concerns under the Trade Practices Act. Broadly, the ACCC said it may grant an authorisation when it was satisfied that the public benefit from the conduct outweighed any public detriment.The ACCC has issued a draft determination proposing to authorise the accreditation scheme, considering the proposal will produce public benefits through higher compliance with standards and improved business efficiencies.”The ACCC considers the proposed scheme will cut the cost and time of ensuring work done by civil contractors is good enough to be connected to Victoria’s electricity networks,” said ACCC chairman Graeme Samuel.”The scheme may also reduce the broader compliance burden on contractors, as they will only have to meet a single set of competence criteria to undertake work on any part of Victoria’s electricity network,” he said. While meeting the accreditation criteria may involve additional costs for some civil contractors, the ACCC said the way in which the criteria had been developed and implemented would mitigate against a significant impact on competition. The competition watchdog said any contractor that met the criteria would be eligible for accreditation, and distribution businesses planned to continue to accept work undertaken by non-accredited civil contractors, provided the work met required standards. However, work undertaken by non-accredited civil contractors will be subject to stricter auditing requirements before being connected to the network.The ACCC is seeking submissions from interested parties in relation to the draft determination before making its final decision. It said parties wishing to make submissions should do so via the ACCC website by April 3, 2009.

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