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Compliance Update – 1 July to 30 September 2021

05 November 2021

Our Compliance Update keeps you informed of activities related to our Compliance and Enforcement Priorities and other important information to help you comply with our schemes.

SRES Compliance

The Clean Energy Regulator (the agency) continues its focus on installers accredited by the Clean Energy Council (CEC) that do not meet eligibility requirements for the incentive for small-scale solar PV installations, as well as retailers who are knowingly involved in non-compliance with the eligibility requirements.

Warrants executed in WA on solar business

On Wednesday 29 September 2021, the agency and the Australian Federal Police (AFP) executed a search warrant on a business involved in solar panel retail and installation.

The search warrant aims to uncover evidence of fraudulent activity. The investigation concerns the alleged falsification of documents required under Western Australian electrical licensing laws. The false documents were then used to create certificates under the SRES.

At the conclusion of the investigation, consideration will be given as to whether a brief of evidence will be referred to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions. If criminal charges are laid, a person could face up to 10 years in jail for fraud related offences.

Installers are reminded they must comply with all state/territory laws, and additional Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES) requirements, for small-scale technology certificates (STCs) to be claimed. Installers must be accredited with the Clean Energy Council (CEC) at the federal level and hold required electrical licenses issued by the state or territory body.

Accredited installer onsite requirement – be prepared for additional information requests

Installers

Investigators have commenced engaging with CEC installers of interest to confirm their attendance at particular solar PV installations. In one instance, the installer was able to provide investigators with the following records:

  • accurate installation details,
  • accommodation and fuel receipts
  • on site “selfie” photographs.

Given the evidence provided by the installer, the agency is satisfied that he has complied with the onsite attendance requirements. We will not be taking any further action in relation to this matter.

This is a reminder to CEC accredited installers on the importance of maintaining detailed and accurate records. Installers found to be making false statements regarding their attendance may face enforcement action including the suspension or cancellation of their accreditation with the CEC, revocation of their electrical licence and civil proceedings or criminal prosecutions. 

Further information on installer obligations can be found on the SRES webpage or contact us.

Agents

We are asking for additional information from agents relating to installer onsite attendance, according to our risk-based assessment approach. Agents will be required to provide evidence to confirm that the accredited installer listed in STC claims has installed the system or physically attended the installation site at least during job set up, mid-installation check-up, and testing and commissioning.

Information demonstrating the installer’s attendance at each of the 3 stages can include photographic identification of the installer with geo-location and time stamped photos. If you are unable to provide additional information to our requests, we may be unable to assess your STC claim or we may fail it.

Solar panel eligibility

During this quarter we resumed regular processing for STC claims involving Trina Solar panels. We also resumed our requests for additional information regarding solar panel eligibility for STC claims that don’t use Solar Panel Validation (SPV). If you don’t use SPV with your STC claim, you should expect to receive a request from us to provide additional information about the eligibility of the solar panels in your STC claim. Information demonstrating eligibility can include an email from the manufacturer of the solar panel confirming eligibility including the model and serial number. 

If you are unable to provide additional information to our requests, we may be unable to assess your claim or we may fail it.

Over 75% of certificate claims continue to be submitted using SPV, and certificates are processed within 24 hours (subject to all scheme requirements being met). Using SPV remains popular as it reduces the risk of ineligible certificate claims and installing ineligible solar panels. Speak to an SPV app provider to explore their services and functions supporting installers to evidence their onsite requirements.

Changes to standards for solar inverters

From 18 December 2021, the AS/NZS 4777.2 standard for inverters will change. The AS/NZS 4777.2:2015 version will be superseded by the AS/NZS 4777.2:2020 version, meaning all inverters installed from this date will need to meet the new inverter standard.

There is currently a transition period where both versions of the standard for inverters may be installed and eligible for STCs. However, from 18 December 2021, installed inverters that meet the 2015 version of the standard will not be eligible for STCs under the SRES. Registered persons, agents, retailers and installers are encouraged to manage their inverter stock carefully. All inverters installed from 18 December 2021 must be listed as 2020 compliant on the CEC’s list of approved inverters to receive STCs. Agents are encouraged to refer to this site regularly for product expiry dates.

Accredited Power Stations suspended

Nominated persons for accredited power stations must submit an electricity generation return (EGR) statement to report on electricity production.

Fifty-one power stations did not submit an EGR this year by the 15 February 2021 deadline. The agency commenced action to suspend their accreditation, 30 power stations subsequently submitted EGRs and were deemed compliant. The remaining 21 power stations have had their accreditation suspended, meaning they are no longer eligible to create large-scale generation certificates.

The suspension status of power stations is shown on the public register of accredited power stations.

Cross-agency data sharing

The agency works cooperatively with other regulators, sharing data to enhance the detection of non-compliance and fraud. We share data with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) including data from our large and small scale renewable energy schemes as part of the ATO’s Government Payments Program. The ATO uses the data to identify and address non-compliance with tax and super obligations and deliver greater integrity and fairness across Commonwealth programs. The agency is committed to ensuring a level playing field for participation in our schemes and responding to non-compliant behaviour.

Greenhouse and Energy Auditors

Registered greenhouse and energy auditors have ongoing requirements they must meet to maintain their registration. The agency has advised an auditor of its intention to deregister them as they have not participated in audits or completed the required amount of continuing professional development to meet ongoing obligations.

Clean Energy Regulator audit program

The agency’s 2021-22 audit program, which includes ERF, NGER and RET participants, is about to commence. Those subject to audits should be aware of their obligations to cooperate with reasonable requests from the appointed auditors. The agency has wide powers to require scheme participants to be the subject of audits undertaken by registered greenhouse and energy auditors appointed by the agency. The agency will analyse the results of these audits and take action in relation to identified areas of non-compliance with scheme obligations.

If you have information on potential fraudulent or non-compliant behaviour, report it today.



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