An unaccredited rooftop solar installer and an unlicenced electrician have been caught by the Clean Energy Regulator in its continuing crackdown on substandard installations.
In a media release, the CER said that the pair were found to have submitted false documentation of rooftop solar installations to various Renewable Energy Certificate agents. The CER believes that the person in question submitted false information about at least 29 separate installations.
The regulator said that it would be leaving no stone unturned in weeding out illegalities, as we reported when Euro Solar – the biggest solar panel retailer in Australia – was ordered to replace non-compliant rooftop solar units or surrender the related small-scale technology certificates (STCs).
Rooftop solar giant Euro Solar subject to enforcement
At the time, the CER said P & N NSW Pty Ltd – which trades as Euro Solar – claimed STCs from non-compliant panels on a total of 10 different rooftop solar installations. This works out to a total of 1,058 STCs worth about $40,000.
The CER has been targeting non-compliant installations and will now scrutinise P & N for the next 18 months for STC compliance. The company has been asked to validate serial numbers for 78 installations within the next 12 months and for a further 100 installations within the next 18 months.
If the next raft of installations are found to be non-compliant, P & N must replace them or surrender the STCs if the owners do not want to replace them. If none of the installations are compliant, P & Y could face an STC bill of $500,000.
P & N 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.
CER said “enforceable undertakings” such as these could be sought in cases to prevent or address serious non-compliance.
In a 9 August statement, CER said: “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.”
Rooftop solar standards causing concern
The latest intervention comes at a time of growing concern over the behaviour, practices, standards and ethics of some installers, leading to the creation of ‘watchdog’ groups on social media where people share their less than satisfactory experiences and try to warn others of malpractice. In addition, the same groups are questioning the quality of some of the components that are being used.
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Regarding the latest bust, the CER said: “SRES (rules which govern governs rooftop solar installations up to 100kW) participants who are involved in the installation of unapproved panels will be subject to enforcement action.
“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.”
Checking the validity of rooftop solar panels
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.
“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,” the regulator said.
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