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Compliance Update – 1 January to 31 March 2021

21 May 2021

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

Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES)

Compliance Taskforce

The agency's taskforce is up and running to focus on installers signing off on written statements of Small-scale Technology Certificate (STC) eligibility under the SRES when they haven’t been on-site during solar system installations.

The on-site requirement in the Clean Energy Council (CEC) Install and Supervise Guidelines for accredited installers is a hard requirement, not a suggestion for best practice.

Any installers who have been doing the wrong thing should mend their ways quickly or risk losing their accreditation, state/territory electrical licence, and/or face criminal or civil proceedings.

We expect installers will maintain proof of supervising installations at the start, middle and end, as required under the CEC’s guidelines. Solar Panel Validation (SPV) app providers are currently developing functionality to make such proof easy.

Agents who fail to adequately check information given to them by installers may also be liable for criminal, civil or administrative action. If our investigations reveal system retailers have been procuring contractors to install systems without ensuring installations are supervised by a CEC accredited installer, then they can expect to face charges for aiding and abetting Commonwealth fraud.

We will be focussing on vertically integrated companies who are retailers or wholesalers of solar panel systems, and registered agents. As registered agents they have primary accountability for preventing scheme fraud and we expect them to manage any conflict of interest that might arise from their dual role.

Clean Energy Regulator serial number ledger

Progress on the implementation of the agency’s serial number ledger (the ledger), including testing, continues as the agency edges closer to ledger launch over the coming weeks. The ledger will support the agency’s assessment of STC claims by avoiding the need to ask agents to provide additional information to manually verify solar panel eligibility.

SPV is still the best risk reduction tool for agents to avoid improper STC creation from ineligible solar panels. We also continue to fast track the processing of STC claims using SPV within 24 hours (subject to all scheme requirements being met).

Check our website for the current list of over 50 solar panel brands participating in SPV, representing 96% of all solar STC claims.

Where there is no data available from our ledger or SPV, assessing STC claims will take longer and may not be processed at all without any verification of solar panel eligibility.

Enforceable undertakings

Bell Solar Pty Ltd

The agency continues to target those businesses claiming a benefit (in the form of STCs) they are not eligible for from the installation of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems by unaccredited installers.

We have accepted an enforceable undertaking from Bell Solar Pty Ltd that addresses improperly created STCs for solar PV systems that were not installed or supervised by the CEC accredited installer listed on the compliance paperwork.

This matter relates to a small number of CEC accredited installers we detected signing written statements on STC assignment forms when they had not supervised the installations at the start, middle and end, as required under the CEC’s guidelines.

The agency has referred these installers to the CEC and relevant state regulators for further action.

The CEC has cancelled or suspended the accreditation of some of these installers.

The enforceable undertaking requires Bell Solar Pty Ltd to:

  • inspect and, if necessary, rectify 142 solar PV installations
  • develop and implement a compliance program
  • report regularly to the agency.

See all Current enforceable undertakings.

Community Energy Group Pty Ltd

On 31 March 2021, Community Energy Group Pty Ltd completed an enforceable undertaking when all tasks offered and accepted by the Clean Energy Regulator were deemed to have been completed to our satisfaction. Community Energy Group Pty Ltd is no longer subject to any compliance action by the agency.

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

Large Scale Renewable Energy Target Accredited Power Stations

As part of ongoing accreditation requirements, accredited power stations must submit an electricity generation return (EGR) statement to report on their electricity production during the year.

The annual reporting period closed on 15 February 2021 for the 2020 generation year. Of 1,688 active power stations 95% submitted their EGR on time.

Of the remaining 5% that did not submit on time:

  • Some power stations rectified the situation by promptly submitting their EGR.
  • 51 power stations, including one large generator, did not submit a EGR nor request an extension by the reporting deadline. These power stations will receive letters commencing action to suspend their accreditation and will no longer be able to create Large-scale Generation Certificates while suspended.
  • Generators who were late in submitting their EGRs, will receive a warning to submit it on time or they may be suspended next year.

Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF)

Change to the format of geospatial data is coming

In the next few months, the agency is introducing changes to the Client Portal that will enhance the way ERF participants can submit geospatial data with their applications and improve data quality. Applications submitted using the new geospatial data format can be assessed more easily by the agency and will result in reduced application processing times. More information about this change will be communicated in the coming months.

Reporting requirements for regeneration projects

Project participants with regeneration projects are required under section 70(3A) of the CFI Rule to demonstrate progress towards, or attainment of, forest cover at certain time intervals. Many project participants will be required to provide this information during 2021. The agency will work with project participants so that they understand their requirements and meet the agency’s expectations. Participants that provide the requested information will benefit from their crediting applications being processed more quickly.

Fit and proper person expectations for Carbon Service Providers

It is important that carbon service providers ensure they are fit and proper to participate in the ERF scheme. Failure to meet these requirements can result in a loss of their Australian national registry of emissions units (ANREU) accounts, revocation of projects, and ineligibility for Australian carbon credit units (ACCUs). The outcomes of recent fit and proper person assessments conducted by the agency are likely to result in projects being revoked, or project proponents exiting the ERF and new project proponents stepping in to replace them.

The agency has issued guidance on fit and proper person status. Further guidance will be published soon. In summary, the agency expects that a fit and proper carbon service provider will:

  • Be fully transparent in their dealings with landholders and other interest holders regarding ERF projects.
  • Provide clear and fair contract terms, including standard business terms regarding payment timeframes and account statements.
  • Provide timely transfer of payments or ACCUs.
  • Have systems and processes in place which enable them to meet legal obligations under the scheme including meeting reporting, monitoring and record keeping requirements.
  • Ensure they and their staff proactively educate themselves on the legal obligations of participation and not rely on the agency correcting their behaviour to bring them into compliance.
  • Be honest and proactive in communicating issues with the agency.

We will also be working with the Carbon Market Institute to explore how industry can align with these expectations.

Safeguard facilities fully meet obligations and manage emissions for a fourth year

The agency has released the 2019–20 safeguard facility reported emissions data. Responsible emitters used a range of options to meet their obligations, including a multi-year monitoring period and surrendering ACCUs to offset their emissions. All safeguard entities met their 2019-20 obligations by the 28 February 2021 deadline, including 13 entities who surrendered 246,539 ACCUs.

Clean Energy Regulator audit program

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’s 2020-21 audit program, which includes RET, ERF and NGER participants, is well underway. Those subject to these audits should be aware of their obligations to cooperate with reasonable requests from their appointed auditors.

As in previous years, the agency will analyse the results of these audits, and take action in relation to identified areas of non-compliance with scheme obligations.

Report alleged fraud anonymously

The Clean Energy Regulator’s new Online Reporting Tool now enables allegations of fraud to be lodged anonymously.

Find out how allegations can be disclosed online, preserving the anonymity of the reporter.

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