Regulator Ramping Up Solar Installer Dodgy Details Focus

Clean Energy Regulator - solar installation compliance

Australia’s Clean Energy Regulator published its latest compliance update last week, outlining some of its recent activities and what’s ahead.

The Regulator is the agency overseeing the integrity of programs operating under Australia’s Renewable Energy Target, including the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES) that provides Australia’s “solar rebate”.

Solar Panel Serial Number Ledger

Late last year, the Clean Energy Regulator announced it was developing a ledger to record serial numbers of all solar panels installed in Australia under the SRES. This won’t be replacing the Solar Panel Validation Initiative (SPV), but will be an additional verification tool to help protect against non-authorised suppliers importing potentially ineligible solar panels into Australia that could be used in Small-scale Technology Certificate (STC) claims.

STCs are the bits of virtual paper created after an eligible solar power system is installed and what the solar rebate is based on; although the “rebate” is actually provided as an up-front discount when purchasing a solar power system.

The Regulator says it is finalising consultation with stakeholders this month and it seems the ledger will be implemented soon.

On a related note, the number of solar panel manufacturers participating in SPV continues to grow – from 48 in December last year, to 55 at the time of publishing.

Solar Installers And Dodgy Installation Details

When Australians buy solar, they expect an accredited installer will be on-site overseeing the installation – and it’s a requirement. At the bare minimum, accredited installers must have their boots on the ground (and on the rooftop) supervising the installation when it commences, halfway through and at the point of testing and commissioning in order for that installation to be eligible for STCs.

This doesn’t always happen and a number of solar businesses have been pinged for not observing these requirements. The consequences can range from enforceable undertakings, civil or even criminal court action, and/or loss of CEC accreditation and electrical licenses.

The Regulator says it is ramping up a major task force to target installers who flout the rules.

“Together with the CEC, we are refining and automating our analytic methodologies to identify installers unlikely to have been on site in accordance with CEC requirements.”

Enforceable Undertakings Update

During the period covered in the update – from the beginning of October to the end of December last year, no new enforceable undertakings were entered into.

An enforceable undertaking is alternative to prosecution – it’s a court-enforceable commitment by an individual or a company to carry out certain activities to rectify an issue, approved by the body that party is making the agreement with.

The Regulator has a bunch of current existing undertakings in place and it seems not all the parties involved are living up to their side of the various deals. The Clean Energy Regulator states:

“…we are currently investigating what we allege is non-compliance with some enforceable undertakings and expect to take stronger enforcement action as a result of parties not meeting their undertakings to us.”

The parties not complying haven’t been named – yet. No doubt the mention is a shot across the bows of those involved.

About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.

Comments

  1. Well they have major issues with photocopying signatures on to the STC forms and filling out incorrect dates on the STC forms

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