rooftop solar panel

The Australian Government has committed $19.2 million to carry out reforms to the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES), including recommendations from a review into the sector led by the Clean Energy Regulator (CER).

The reforms are expected to better protect consumers and improve integrity of the rooftop solar PV sector.

Following reports of defective installations, misuse of installer accreditation details, and safety and quality concerns, the CER conducted an Integrity Review of the sector.

The CER’s final report identified aspects of the current SRES regulatory framework that could be made more effective. The report sets out 13 recommendations.

The Federal Government has announced its support for the recommendations, including:

  • Authorising the CER to set eligibility requirements for, and oversee the operation of, installer accreditation schemes and the listing of approved solar components
  • Implementing streamlined reporting requirements for installers, retailers and manufacturers
  • More effective powers for the CER to monitor and enforce compliance for operators in the sector

The funding will also support online resources to help consumers make informed purchase decisions about solar PV.

Federal Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction, Angus Taylor, said the reforms will ensure that solar retailers, installers and manufacturers doing the wrong thing are held to account.

“Improving the regulatory framework will help put an end to the safety and quality risks plaguing the sector,” Mr Taylor said.  

“It will help ensure the safe and successful rollout of solar PV in Australian homes and businesses into the future.”

The National Electrical and Communications Association (NECA) provided extensive input to the review, including sharing the challenges faced by members under the existing SRES regulatory framework.

Branch Secretary for NECA WA, Carl Copeland, led the organisation’s national response to the review.

“This is good news for the vast majority of installers, retailers and manufacturers that make up the solar industry and do high-quality, safe work,” Mr Copeland said. 

“They have played a key role in reducing the country’s emissions and slashing energy bills for millions of Australians.

“However, for too long unscrupulous operators have been allowed to damage the reputation of the industry, with dodgy products and installations.

“NECA urges the Federal Government to implement the recommended changes as soon as possible, which will strengthen the industry and means a brighter, safer future for solar.”

The Clean Energy Council (CEC) has welcomed the measures to improve regulation and compliance of the rooftop solar PV sector.

CEC Chief Executive, Kane Thornton, said that it is appropriate to continually reflect and improve the regulatory framework to ensure industry integrity and proper oversight.

“We welcome the greater role for the CER to leverage the compliance and enforcement tools of a Commonwealth agency to crack down on the worst behaviours in the industry. 

“A more active approach to regulation and compliance from the Commonwealth Government is a good step forward and the industry looks forward to working closely with the CER to refine the regulatory framework for the sector,” Mr Thornton said.

State and territory governments ensuring their regulatory frameworks for electrical installations adequately cover rooftop solar PV installations will help assure safety and quality for consumers as the SRES phases out towards 2030.

The Australian Government will consult on regulatory changes to the SRES framework in the second half of 2021.

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