Queensland solar rule will blow out costs, cause months-long delays

Fresh industry concerns have been raised over the Queensland government’s decision to restrict the installation of solar panels to licensed electricians on large solar projects, with claims projects currently under construction will blow out in cost and be delayed by months.
The new rule, which is due to become law on May 13, prevents anyone but licensed electricians to mount, locate, fix or remove solar panels on projects of 100kW.
After first coming to our attention on Monday, the regulation change was confirmed on Tuesday by Queensland’s minister for industry, Grace Grace, and quickly condemned by industry body Clean Energy Council and a number of irate solar installers.
But the objections to a rule change that has been variously described as “absurd,” “outrageous” and “ridiculous” just keep coming.
The latest, from the developer of a major solar project currently being built in Queensland, warns that the rush to push the rule change through will have significant unintended consequences for projects mid-way through construction.
“Contracts were entered into and investment decisions made in good faith based on the existing regulatory landscape – no investor or EPC contractor could have reasonably anticipated such an over the top change to the regulations was just around the corner,” the developer told One Step, under the condition of anonymity.
“Worse, there has been no consideration of appropriate transition arrangements for these projects that are mid-contract.
“Our initial advice is that the cost to build (this project in Queensland) will blow out by up to $4 million, which is four times more than …the Queensland government’s Explanatory Notes (forecast) the impact to be.
“It is also likely to cause delays of more than three months, due to difficulties sourcing enough licensed electricians.”
“This will have flow on impacts to financing (which was only secured for the original contract sum plus a small contingency) and other contracts such as an off-take agreements with third parties for LGCs,” the developer said.
“More importantly though, this will result in instant job losses for people who are already employed on these projects.
“It also means workers are going to have to be sourced from much further away, depriving the local town and region of desperately needed job opportunities for unskilled workers.
“I wonder what the Minister’s office would have to say if you asked for comment about people already working on site losing their jobs a month from now because of this change?” the developer said.
The concerns mirror those that have been expressed One Step Off The Grid almost daily since the rule change was first aired.
Some, like the above Queensland project developer, felt the government had not thought through the consequences of the change. Others felt it was an underhanded attempt to curb the booming growth of big solar in Australia’s Sunshine State.
“This move is not about safety,” Huon Hoogesteger, the founder and CEO of Smart Commercial Solar told One Step on Thursday.
“This is about slowing down solar to the benefit of other industries.
“The idea that lifting things into place is an electrician’s job, is absurd,” Hoogesteger said.
“This just smells and feels like a cheap shot at large-scale solar and a sleight of hand way to control it,” said Danin Kahn, the CEO of Todae Solar.
“It will just significantly increase the cost, significantly increase the process – and even if you could afford all of that, there just wouldn’t be enough capability.”

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