What is the Clean Energy Regulator?
The Clean Energy Regulator (CER) administers an inspections program for installations of small-scale solar panels, wind and hydro systems that have had renewable energy certificates (RECs) or small-scale technology certificates (STCs) created against them. The CER selects systems for inspection at random from installations registered in the REC registry. The Office of the Renewable Energy Regulator (ORER) formerly administered the inspections program and was amalgamated into the CER on 2 April 2012.
The Renewable Energy (Electricity) Act (the Act) requires that each year a statistically significant selection of small-scale solar panels, wind and hydro systems that were installed during that year must be inspected for conformance with:
- Applicable Australian standards and industry guidelines as in force at the time the unit was installed;
- State/Territory and local government requirements; and
- The requirements for the creation of certificates.
Who will be carrying out these inspections?
Inspections must be carried out by a person or organisation who is independent of the designer/installer and who does not have a conflict of interest with the small-scale solar panels, wind and/or hydro system being inspected, or administration of matters being inspected.
In accordance with Regulation 33 of the Renewable Energy (Electricity) Regulations 2001 (the Regulations), the CER may, in writing, appoint a person to be an inspector if satisfied that the person:
a) is of sufficient maturity, and has had sufficient training, to properly exercise the powers of an inspector;
b) holds an unrestricted license for electrical work under the laws of a State or Territory;
c) has sufficient expertise in matters arising under the Act and Regulations in order to critically examine the requirements in Regulation 39 and to prepare a report under Regulation 42; and
d) is of good repute, having regard to the person’s character, honesty and integrity.
What if a safety risk is detected during an inspection?
If the inspector considers there to be an imminent safety risk to a person or the property during the inspection, they must notify the following interested parties of the extent and nature of any safety risks at the time of inspection:
- The occupier;
- The Clean Energy Regulator;
- The relevant State or Territory Regulator; and
- The relevant distribution network service provider.
What happens after the inspection?
On completion of each inspection, the inspector must prepare a report. If the report contains an adverse finding in relation to a person/s who designed or installed the system or who created the certificates for the unit, the inspector will provide a draft inspection report to the person/s concerned.
The draft inspection report is provided in the form of a letter to the person/s concerned and allows them the opportunity to provide written comment on the findings. These comments may include advice on how the identified non-compliances will be rectified. In the case of Registered Agents, the comments may include advice on the steps taken to ensure the accuracy of information relied on to create certificates. Comments made within 14 days will be taken into account before finalising the report and providing it to the CER.
Under Regulation 47 of the Regulations, the CER may declare a person ineligible to design and install small-scale solar panels, wind and hydro systems for 12 months, and may publish this information on the website. Agents who improperly create certificates may face penalties and prosecution under the Act.
Clean Energy Regulator “Inspections of Small-Scale Solar Panels, Wind and Hydro Systems” fact-sheet
Who receives a copy of the final report?
The CER must provide a copy of the final report to interested parties under Regulation 44. Interested parties are the owner of the unit, the occupier of the premises, the person who created the certificates for the unit and the designer of the unit. A copy of the final report is also provided to the Clean Energy Council and to the relevant State or Territory Regulators responsible for electrical and building safety.
Text quoted from Clean Energy Regulator “Inspections of Small-Scale Solar Panels, Wind and Hydro Systems” fact-sheet.