Current enforceable undertakings Suggested Reading
27 July 2017
Current enforceable undertakings accepted by the Clean Energy Regulator include:
Company or individual detailsP & N NSW Pty Ltd (ABN: 145998929)
LegislationRenewable Energy (Electricity) Act 2000
Undertaking date21 July 2017
CircumstancesP & N NSW Pty Ltd improperly created, in contravention of section 24 of the REE Act, 1058 Small-scale Technology Certificates (STCs) from 10 installations of solar photovoltaic (PV) panels that were non-compliant.
P & N NSW Pty Ltd’s compliance procedures did not identify, at the time of STC creation, that the solar PV panels were non-compliant solar PV panels.
Undertaking P & N NSW Pty Ltd undertakes to:
Attachments Enforceable undertaking of P and N NSW Pty Ltd
By Giles Parkinson on 9 August 2017
One Step Off The Grid
Euro Solar – the biggest seller of solar panels in Australia – has been forced by the Clean Energy Regulator to surrender small-scale technology certificates (STCs) or replace modules after being found to have installed non-compliant solar panels.
P & N NSW Pty Ltd, which trades as Euro Solar, was found by the CER to have claimed STCs from non-compliant panels on 10 different rooftop solar installations. In total, this amounted to 1,058 STCs worth around $40,000.
In order to “address its conduct”, the CER says P & N has been asked to validate serial numbers on solar modules for a further 78 installations within 12 months, and for a further 100 installations within 18 months. All the installations have been identified by the CER.
If those installations are found to contain non-compliant panels, P & N will have to either replace those panels or surrender STCs if the homeowners don’t consent to the change. The STC bill could amount to $500,000 if none are compliant.
The CER says the move against P & N is part of a crackdown on rules in the SRES, which provides up-front rebates for rooftop solar installations. To qualify for STCs, solar panels need to have been approved and validated by the Clean Energy Council.
“We are rolling out an innovative compliance program that reaches out into the small-scale technology certificate (STC) creation chain to detect the installation of unapproved panels, which are not eligible for STCs,” the CER says.
Euro Solar has taken a leading position in the Australian solar market because of its deep discounts, the scale of which surprises many competitors.
“P & N NSW Pty Ltd’s compliance procedures did not identify, at the time of STC creation, that the solar PV panels were non-compliant solar PV panels,” the CER said in its statement.
As part of its enforceable undertaking, P & N has committed to validating the other installations and will report to the CER on a monthly basis.
It will also fund the Clean Energy Regulator’s testing of four solar PV panels – randomly selected by the CER – held by P & N NSW Pty Ltd to determine whether the panels have the necessary attributes for accreditation or continuing accreditation.
The CER says enforceable undertakings can be sought in cases to prevent or address serious non-compliance.
“Enforceable undertakings are written statements from a person or organisation that they will do, or refrain from doing, certain things in order to resolve detected contraventions or improve compliance with the legislation,” it says.
The intervention from the CER comes amid growing concerns within the industry about the standards and behaviours of some installers, the quality of some merchandise imported – such as solar panels and inverters – and the need for an awareness program for consumers.
This is something that we go into in detail in our first Solar Insiders podcast with solar industry veteran Nigel Morris, of monitoring software company Solar Analytics, where we discuss some of the quality control issues in the rooftop solar industry.
Morris says the Australian solar industry has been very successful, with more than 1.7 million installations, and nearly 6GW of rooftop solar panels, most of them perfectly fine and performing well.
But no other country has installed such a large percentage of “cheap” solar. Why is this? Possibly because of the Australian eye for a discount, possibly because Australians turn over housing stock more quickly than people in Europe or north America.
There is even a Facebook page called “Crap Solar” put together by installers appalled at instances of lousy workmanship. This has implications for consumers which are worth noting. The Solar Insiders podcast can be found here.
The solar industry has been calling for a crackdown on poor quality installations, and more surveillance of solar panels – almost all of which are imported from overseas – to ensure they are compliant.
“The Clean Energy Regulator takes fraud and deliberate non-compliance seriously and takes necessary action to ensure the integrity of the scheme,” the CER said in its statement.
“SRES participants who are involved in the installation of unapproved panels will be subject to enforcement action by the Clean Energy Regulator. (SRES is the small-scale renewable energy scheme which governs rooftop solar installations up to 100kW).
“We have a broad range of compliance and enforcement options, including suspension of registration and REC Registry accounts, enforceable undertakings and criminal or civil proceedings.”
The CER says it has partnered with the solar industry and peak bodies to allow consumers, along with installers and retailers, to use a new Solar Panel Validation Pilot to check the validity of solar panels.
Participating manufacturers will provide serial number data that will allow installers, retailers and consumers to validate panels.
The CER says STCs created using validated panel data will deliver a higher level of confidence to the Clean Energy Regulator. STCs created without validated data will be examined more closely under our compliance processes and if found to be unapproved subject to enforcement action.
This article was originally published on RenewEconomy’s sister site, One Step Off The Grid, which focuses on customer experience with distributed generation. To sign up to One Step’s free weekly newsletter, please click here.
Issue 33 - August 2017
Solar Industry Update
Explaining the pending changes to the 44c FiT legislation
The Queensland Government has introduced an Amendment Bill to Queensland Parliament on 15 June 2017, designed to provide clearer rules to householders receiving the 44c Feed-in Tariff (FiT) on how to retain their tariff when integrating batteries or additional panels with their current 44c-eligilble systems. Whilst this Bill is yet to be passed, it is likely to be debated in Parliament in late August or early September 2017.The Government described these changes in their recent media release as an important step towards bringing the laws up to date with evolving technologies that are now available to homeowners, such as battery systems, which were not a consideration when the Solar Bonus Scheme was introduced.
The Amendment Bill and the associated Explanatory Notes can be found on the Queensland Government website. The following information is designed to help you understand the implications of the planned legislation changes since 15 June 2017. The information provided assumes that you have read the Explanatory Notes.
If an array upgrade on a 44c-eligible system occurs on or after 15 June 2017 and results in the total array capacity exceeding the total inverter capacity, the 44c FiT will be forfeited. The only exemption to this is if a sales contract between the customer and the PV retailer/installer was dated before 15 June 2017 and a copy of that sales contract can be provided to the distributor upon request.
Currently, if our Solar Team receives an application for an array upgrade on a 44c-eligible PV system that will take the total array capacity above the total inverter capacity, they will attempt to phone the customer or the PV retailer. If they are unable to make contact, they will send an email. They will advise the customer or applicant that the 44c FiT is likely to be forfeited if the installation proceeds. If the installation proceeds, or has already occurred, the 44c FiT is maintained and the case is flagged for review once the Bill is passed. The 44c FiT will then likely be removed after review. If the inverter capacity is no greater than 5 kVA, the system is likely to qualify for the regional FiT.
If one or more panels of an array require replacement and the proposed new array capacity is greater than the inverter capacity, then installers should ensure the total array capacity doesn’t exceed the original array capacity. This is irrespective of whether or not the replacement is under warranty.
Batteries and additional generators
One intent of the legislation changes is to clarify that customers on the 44c FiT can install a battery and retain eligibility for that FiT, if they wish. However, customers cannot use a battery or a second generating unit on the same electrical installation, i.e. same tariff, as the 44c-qualifying PV system to increase the volume of export beyond a level otherwise possible.
The battery or second generating unit must be programmed to only discharge into the premises at night or during a grid outage. The battery system must have a grid-isolation link. There must be no overlap of PV generation and battery discharge. More details will be provided once the legislation changes are finalised.
Ergon, and Energex, apply complex algorithms to metering data to identify changes in both export and consumption levels that indicate unapproved changes to PV systems. We also access aerial imagery when necessary to calculate the approximate array capacity installed.
If we suspect an unapproved capacity increase, we will investigate, where relevant remove the 44c FiT and seek to identify the installer involved.
Don't install without a connection offer
Despite our ongoing education and some financially painful consequences, a small number of installers still occasionally install PV systems before the applicant has received our connection offer, and entered into a connection contract. Even if the connection contract is ultimately entered into, installation without approval is still a breach of the legislation and the installer may be referred to the Clean Energy Council.
But in an increasing number of cases, we are unable to make an offer for the proposed system. In a worst-case scenario, in some of Ergon’s 33 isolated communities, we have had to instruct customers and their installers to disconnect the systems from the network, with no prospect of the customers being able to have their system connected to the network in the foreseeable future.
We urge all installers to protect themselves by requesting from the applicant or customer written evidence that a connection contract has been established, before they commence the installation.
Working safely with asbestos
We recently published advice in our Relay newsletter for electrical contractors dated 19 July 2017, that we’ve created a new asbestos page with information and documentation relating to working with asbestos on our electricity network. Everyone who works on our assets is requested to read the document titled Asbestos Related Work or Removal Management Guide – For Network.
This guide provides a set of minimum requirements and expectations for work that involves, or is likely to involve, the disturbance of asbestos. For PV installers, that’s relevant to working on meterboards containing asbestos.
Also, we recommend you subscribe to our Alert Service and select ‘Asbestos’ and we’ll email you when there are any new or updated documents.
We’re working hard to provide and maintain a safe and healthy work environment for our employees, contractors and members of the public.
If you have any queries about asbestos please email firstname.lastname@example.org
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About Solar Industry Update
This newsletter will keep you informed about what's happening in the solar industry and any changes to compliance, rulings and legislation.