Companies seeking to install solar photovoltaic (PV) panels under the Government’s Renewable Energy Target (RET) will be subject to tougher safety and compliance requirements from 21 June 2010, the Government has announced.

Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, Senator Penny Wong, said new regulations for the RET – signed by the Governor-General on 15 June 2010 - will commence from 21 June 2010.

The regulations include:

• To be eligible for Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs), installations must now comply with state and territory regulations for siting panels and building codes, including for panel mountings and connection;
• Installers must be both Clean Energy Council (CEC) accredited and licensed electricians, with the exception of some remote non-grid connections; and
• Requiring installers of solar panels to retain documentation of how they have met the above requirements.

The requirement to be a licensed electrician, which is already part of the CEC accreditation requirements, will now be an explicit requirement for the RET and its compliance regime. If these requirements are not met, installers will face penalties such as fines, injunctions, ineligibility to create RECs or criminal charges.

“Solar panels allow householders to play their part in reducing our greenhouse gas emissions,’’ Senator Wong said.

“The government takes safety for solar PV very seriously and these additional measures will further strengthen safety arrangements for solar panels supported by the Renewable Energy Target.’’

Senator Wong said the enhanced RET, currently before the Senate, also includes a number of new compliance measures such as civil penalties, tougher financial penalties and more stringent documentation requirements to prove compliance. The RET Bills were introduced on 12 May 2010 and the Government is committed to passage of the legislation before Parliament rises.

“The amendments give the Renewable Energy Regulator more power to use against people that do the wrong thing, including breaches of safety requirements,’’ Senator Wong said.

The Office of the Renewable Energy Regulator continues to work with the CEC to deliver an enhanced program of compliance and performance checks. These checks would further ensure that the standards which underpin installation safety are met.

“These checks will be rolled out as part of an ongoing process of improving compliance and performance in the renewables sector,’’ Senator Wong said.

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