In what has been criticised as a move that will put solar jobs and projects at risk, the Queensland state government has passed new legislation that will compel PV developers to employ licensed electrical workers to complete solar installations. Going far beyond the electrical connection of solar modules, the legislation extends to the “lifting, mounting and fixing of unplugged solar panels,” the Clean Energy Council said in a statement today.
The new regulations are set to come into effect on May 13.
In a move to head off the new measures, the Clean Energy Council brought together solar companies and stakeholders today to address the new rules.
“The solar industry is stunned after being almost completely shut out of the consultation process. We were only provided with a very short opportunity to submit some comments just before Christmas – which were subsequently ignored,” said Anna Freeman, the Clean Energy Council’s Director of Energy Generation in a statement.
“It’s time to press pause on this rushed process so we can sit down with the Queensland Government and other industry stakeholders to work this through. We share the government’s commitment to safety and we are confident we can work together to find a better way forward that won’t destroy solar investment and jobs.”
It has been suggested the new regulations could push up the cost of commercial and industrial solar systems by some 20%. For large scale project developers, transitioning its installation workforce from trained labourers and trade assistants to licensed electrical workers would likely come at considerable cost – potentially jeopardising projects already under construction.
Criticism to the new Queensland rules have come from the activities community. change.org has called for Queensland Premier Palaszczuk and state industrial relations minister Grace Grace to delay the implementation of the solar installation regulations.
It described the new rules as, “an underhand way for the dirty fossil fuel industry to slow down our sunshine state’s transition to renewable energy, the Queensland Government have rushed new legislation through Parliament that will drive up the cost of renewable energy and will result in many apprentices and labourers losing their jobs.” change.org‘s petition is currently live.
Green Energy Markets estimates that over 5,000 people are employed in Queensland’s solar sector.