The Clean Energy Council has welcomed a decision by the Supreme Court of Queensland that a state government regulation requiring the use of licensed electrical workers to mount and fix unplugged solar panels was invalid.
The Electrical Safety (Solar Farms) Amendment Regulation 2019 (Qld), which came into force on May 13, was successfully challenged by Maryborough Solar – owners of the Brigalow Solar Farm near Pittsworth in southern Queensland – on the basis that it was inconsistent with the Electrical Safety Act (2002).
In delivering his determination, Justice Bradley declared the amendment regulation Section 73A to be beyond the regulation-making powers of Queensland’s Electrical Safety Act.
Anna Freeman, the Clean Energy Council’s director – energy generation, described the ruling as “a victory for common sense”.
“The industry is obviously disappointed that this issue came down to a court challenge. Our preference was for a proper consultation process and full consideration of its regulatory impact,” Freeman said.
“Mounting and fixing unconnected solar panels to a rail is mechanical work – not electrical work – and we are very pleased the Supreme Court of Queensland has ruled in the industry’s favour.”
Under the now invalid regulation, only licensed electricians were permitted to locate, mount, fix or remove solar panels on projects larger than 100kW.
This was work that has been done successfully on dozens of projects by skilled labourers and trades assistants.
Freeman said the industry remained committed to working with the government and all interested stakeholders to deliver continuous safety improvements in the solar industry.
“The solar industry recognises that safety is paramount, but this new regulation did nothing to improve the safety of workers and was not justified by the government’s own safety data,” she said.
“Any future changes should be formulated in consultation with the industry and all relevant stakeholders, and should be based on evidence. We look forward to working with the Queensland Government to help achieve our shared aims of safely delivering on its 50% renewable energy target by 2030.”