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Compliance activities

 

The Clean Energy Regulator’s investigation and enforcement activities raise stakeholders’ awareness of their compliance obligations. The updated compliance web page and publishing of compliance statistics and enforceable undertakings sends a clear message to stakeholders of the Clean Energy Regulator’s commitment to ensuring compliance with the Act by all parties.

Investigations

The Clean Energy Regulator actively investigates allegations of breaches of the Act. In 2013, the Clean Energy Regulator received 123 matters related to possible breaches and had 49 matters open as at 31 December 2013. The open matters included 42 cases under investigation and four referrals and three information reports under assessment.

The majority of matters requiring further attention in 2013 related to the improper creation of certificates for solar panel installations.

A total of 124 matters relating to the Act were closed by the Clean Energy Regulator during 2013. While none of the closures were as a result of a finalised prosecution, investigations resulted in a range of administrative actions, including:

  • sending of warning letters
  • voluntary surrender and transfer of certificates
  • voluntary rectification of installations.

In addition, eight enforceable undertakings, arising from the outcomes of investigations, were agreed by the Clean Energy Regulator and four enforceable undertakings were closed. As a result of the enforceable undertakings agreed in 2013, a total of 16,085 small-scale technology certificates either have been or will be surrendered.

Six REC Registry accounts were suspended while investigations were undertaken. Five of these accounts remained suspended as at 31 December 2013. In support of investigations, the Clean Energy Regulator executed one monitoring warrant.

While the aim of the Clean Energy Regulator’s Compliance, Education and Enforcement Policy is to achieve voluntary compliance, civil and criminal prosecutions are pursued in the more serious matters. In January 2013, as a result of a civil prosecution, the Federal Court imposed a total financial penalty of $209,400 on five entities in relation to the improper creation of small-scale technology certificates. Injunctions were also placed on the entities, restricting them from undertaking certain activities, including providing false or misleading information to any person in relation to the creation of small-scale technology certificates.

Power station monitoring inspections

Part 11 of the Act authorises the Clean Energy Regulator to perform monitoring inspections of the affairs of a registered person for the purpose of substantiating information provided under the Act and determining whether the registered person has complied with the Act and Regulations. Monitoring inspections may be performed with the consent of the registered person or in accordance with a monitoring warrant issued under the Act.

In 2013, the Clean Energy Regulator performed two monitoring inspections of renewable energy power stations. Both power stations were found to be compliant with the Act and Regulations and no further action was taken by the Clean Energy Regulator.

Inspections of small generation units

In 2011 the government introduced a provision in the Act for a sample of installed systems to be inspected each year by the Clean Energy Regulator for compliance with Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme eligibility criteria. The criteria include relevant Australian and New Zealand standards related to electrical safety.

Responsibility for electrical safety is a matter for state and territory electrical safety regulators. The Clean Energy Regulator works with these regulators in the design and implementation of the small generation unit inspection program which began in 2011.

The objective of the inspection program is to ensure that the increased installation demand resulting from Renewable Energy Target incentives does not lead to any reduction in installation standards.

Under section 23AAA of the Act, the Clean Energy Regulator inspects small generation units for their compliance with the eligibility criteria for claiming certificates. Small-scale solar panels on the rooftops of residential buildings are the most common small-scale generation units.

The Clean Energy Regulator has deeds of standing offer with four service providers to inspect small generation units installed in the states and territories. The service providers are Global Sustainable Energy Solutions, Master Electricians Australia, the Australian Solar Energy Council and Carbon Footie.

The Clean Energy Regulator selects systems randomly for inspection across Australia based on the number of installations for which the small-scale technology certificates were created and their geographical location. Table 9 provides details of the inspection reports received in 2013. Total cumulative inspections data is available on the Clean Energy Regulator website.18

Table 9: Number of final reports for inspections of small generation units received by the Clean Energy Regulator between 1 January and 31 December 2013
StateNumber of systems inspectedSystems unsafe1Systems substandard1
Total 3,909 130 (3.3%) 380 (9.7%)
ACT3023
NSW5031144
NT1900
Qld131945118
SA6631089
Tas3325
Vic8113459
WA5312662
1 As defined by the Clean Energy Regulator.

Liability assessment audits

The Clean Energy Regulator did not conduct liability assessment audits during 2013.

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