The Clean Energy Regulator’s crack-down on the rules governing Australia’s rooftop solar market continues, with new action taken against an “unaccredited” rooftop solar installer and “unlicensed electrician,” found to have submitted false documentation to various Renewable Energy Certificate agents.
The installer is alleged to have provided false and misleading information to a second person, that resulted in the creation of small-scale technology certificates (STCs) for 29 installations that they were not entitled to create.
The CER said t had agreed to an enforceable undertaking – to be completed on or before 30 September 2017 – to identify all PV systems installed in breach of the Renewable Electricity Act, to have them inspected by a Clean Energy Council-accredited installer, and to replace, or repair those PV systems, as needed.
The new CER action follows the revelation, earlier this month, that Australia’s biggest solar retailer was being force to replace non-compliant solar panels.
As we reported here, Euro Solar was 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, amounting to 1,058 STCs worth around $40,000.
The company was asked by the Regulator 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.
As the CER said at that time, “enforceable undertakings” such as these could 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 said.
The intervention comes amid growing concerns within the rooftop solar 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, as Australia’s rush to rooftop solar continues.
“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 an August 9 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 has also 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.