SEPTEMBER 2015 – South Australia
The solar boom gained traction throughout South Australia during 2008 and immediately created a licensing headache due to a number of industry and Government factors. Meanwhile, companies were appearing rapidly and the established businesses started to diversify recognising the insatiable consumer demand due to these generous Federal Government incentives and State feed-in schemes.
Even after seven years, many within the construction industry are confused when it comes to applying for a solar panel installer’s licence. The norm suggests that electricians are fully covered. In some cases this is correct. But if you already hold this licence, I suggest you read on because there’s a chance you, your supervisor or your subcontractor may be working outside the scope of their licence.
THE OLD PATHWAY
Consumer and Business Services (CBS) (the SA licensing regulator and my previous employer at the time) had many moving hurdles to jump during the solar boom. Myself and others within the department sought advice from the Crown Solicitor’s office on a few occasions to clarify the scope of legislated definitions. The end result – making sure tradies and consumers were protected.
I mentioned above about working outside the scope of your licence? Here’s what I mean. From approximately ‘08 to ‘12, it was the norm that any electrical person/s or company with the combined conditions “can contract for and perform any electrical work” could perform the installation of solar panels. Be warned…this is no longer the case!
If you’re an electrician only and installing solar panels under this condition you may be in breach of your licence condition.
THE RIGHT PATHWAY – BUILDING SUPERVISORS LICENCE
LICENSING FACT: The condition, Installation of PV Solar Panels, can only be issued under a restricted builders supervisors and contractor’s licence. It allows the install of support tilt systems (with other inclusions). This cannot be added to your electrical licence. Why you ask? There are two completely different pieces of legislation in play. Plus in most instances (for licensing purposes) there’s no provision for it so CBS can’t mix and match conditions because they’re bound by legislation.
So where to from here? The good news is, you’ve got two pathways.
To be eligible for either Pathway 1 or 2, you must already hold the following:
- An unrestricted electrical workers registration (PGE number); and
- A Clean Energy Council (CEC) accreditation to design and install – here’s the link: solaraccreditation.com.au – FYI there’s RTO’s in SA that deliver these units.
Once all of the above have been completed, you must satisfy one of the following pathways:
Pathway 1 – You can sit a Building Work Supervisor Interview at CBS; or
Pathway 2 – Complete the SA Supplementary Training for Solar PV Installers – solely run by the Australian Institute of Building Surveyors – www.aibs.com.au
This is where SA Trade Licensing comes in. I’ll guide you through the entire process, complete all Government paperwork and queries on your behalf and prepare you for the interview at a fixed price. Plus I’ll review your business structure to ensure everyone is compliant. If you choose the AIBS pathway, I’ll negotiate an outcome with them on your behalf to get the training you need.
THE RIGHT PATHWAY – BUILDING CONTRACTORS LICENCE
LICENSING FACT: If you or your building company (Pty Ltd) wants to contract for the condition, Installation of PV Solar Panels, it must be added to your contractor’s licence. Plus, the contractor must nominate a building work supervisor who currently holds (or is applying for) this condition.
Once again, if you currently hold a sole trader or Pty Ltd electrical contractor licence, CBS won’t add the PV condition. You must apply for a separate building contractors licence. Yes, this does mean you’ll have two different contractors’ licenses but there’s a silver lining…
Rather than paying two contractor licence renewal fees each year, CBS allows in this instance the electrical contractors conditions to be added onto the building contractors licence. There are only a few exceptions to the rule and this is one of them.
Swapping and adding conditions to licenses can be complex and involves an intimate knowledge of the licensing process. There’s many factors that can delay the approval, e.g. business names, directors, business knowledge and financial requirements to name a few. SA Trade Licensing will complete all of these requirements on your behalf and make sure you’re compliant at a fixed price.
|Quick Reference Guidei) Solar Panel Installation – means installation of PV Solar Panelsii) Installation Minimum – Unrestricted electrician & Clean Energy Council (CEC) Design & Install Accredited (with the supplementary requirement in South Australia of the AIBS course)iii) Installation – means the installation of support tilt systems for PV solar panels – inc. mounting frames, modifying or reinforcing roof frame and more…|
iv) For a sole trader or company to add the PV Solar Panel condition, they must nominate a supervisor who holds (or is applying for) the same condition