Emergency solar roundtable convenes

RENEWABLE developers in Queensland have been left scrambling after the Queensland state government passed new regulations requiring licensed electrical workers to conduct everyday tasks like heavy lifting and mounting equipment at solar projects instead of labourers and trade assistants, rather like requiring an engineer to man a drill rig.
Emergency solar roundtable convenes Emergency solar roundtable convenes Emergency solar roundtable convenes Emergency solar roundtable convenes Emergency solar roundtable convenes

Paul Hunt

Senior Journalist: Oil & Gas, Policy.

Paul Hunt
 
The Clean Energy Council and members of the renewable development industry are concerned that the low level of mechanical work currently carried out by labourers and trade assistants will put further strain on specialised electricians. 
 
There is also some concern over what this could mean for labourers, and that the changes will leave many of them unemployed or required to train as an electrician in order to finish work on current projects. 
 
The regulations will come into effect as early as next week. 
 
"The solar industry is stunned after being almost complete 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," Clean Energy Council director of energy generation Anna Freeman said. 
 
"It's time to press pause on this rushed process… 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." 
 
The Clean Energy Council said the shock rule change is particularly troubling given the government was unable to demonstrate any safety breaches or incidents involving labourers mounting unconnected panels. 
 
"Electricians are already required to test the integrity of the electrical earthing, and to undertake the electrical wiring, making this additional regulation unnecessary," Freeman said. 
 
"This rule change is significant because it will cut local communities out of many of the job opportunities on solar farms across regional and rural Queensland."
 
It could also result in job losses for labourers and trades assistants currently working on commercial-scale solar projects across the state, an industry that has more than doubled over the last 12 months according to industry figures. 
 
The emergency roundtable of solar companies and industry stakeholders was held yesterday.