The Clean Energy Regulator (CER) is an independent Australian statutory agency that administers legislation designed to achieve the country’s goal of reducing carbon emissions and increasing clean energy use. It was established in April 2012 under the Clean Energy Regulator Act of 2011.
During the second half of March 2021, the CER shared its compliance updates, including reports on its recent programs and upcoming projects.
As a regulatory authority, part of the CER’s mandate is to oversee the integrity of programs initiated under Australia’s Renewable Energy Target. This includes the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES), which is in charge of the country’s solar incentive scheme.
Safeguarding the public against the use of ineligible solar panels
One major move of the CER announced late last year is the ongoing development of a serial number ledger for solar panels installed under the SRES in Australia.
The ledger is meant to work as an additional verification tool on top of the Solar Panel Validation Initiative (SPV). It aims to address reports on unauthorised suppliers importing possibly ineligible solar panels into the country, with the intent of using them for making Small-scale Technology Certificate (STC) claims.
According to the CER, stakeholder consultations are in the process of being finalised and the ledger would soon be in the implementation phase.
Protecting customers from questionable installation activities
Australian customers looking to have a residential solar system installed for their home assume (and rightfully so) that an accredited installer is always onsite overseeing the installation process – which is exactly how it’s supposed to be according to regulations.
For example, an accredited installer of solar panels in Brisbane should be onsite during the start of the installation, when the work is halfway done and during testing and commissioning to ensure that the installation qualifies for STCs.
However, this has not been the case, as some solar panel installation companies have been found to be in violation of such requirements.
According to the CER, a task force is being organised to identify and investigate installers who disregard regulations. Businesses that do not follow the rules could face heavy penalties, such as the loss of their CEC accreditation and electrical licenses, enforceable undertakings and civil or criminal liability.
There are currently existing enforceable undertakings; however, some at-fault parties have not fulfilled the required activities to resolve their case or part of the deal. It must be noted that enforceable undertakings are an excellent alternative to prosecution for errant companies. These undertakings require the at-fault party to perform certain tasks or activities to resolve non-compliance issues.
Although none of the errant companies’ names has been published, the CER updates should serve as a fair warning for these installers to get their act together.