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Current Lists of Accredited Designers / Installers of SPS and GC Systems

Questions Frequently Asked by Customers about the Solar Homes and Communities Plan

Standards

1. Are your PV system designers and installers Clean Energy Council accredited?

To be eligible for the rebate, your system must be designed and installed by a Clean Energy Council grid-connect accredited designer and installer. The installer must personally sign off on the installation report at the time of commissioning of your system. A list of accredited designers and installers can be found above.

2. Are the system parts, including the PV panels and inverter, certified or approved as meeting the appropriate standards?

To be eligible for a rebate, the PV panels used must be certified to international standards, either IEC61215 or IEC61646 as well as IEC61730 (effective 1/6/09). You can ask your installer to supply proof that panels meet the relevant standards. Grid-connected inverters must be approved for connection to the grid in Australia by complying with AS4777 and having a current Certificate of Suitability. A list of currently approved inverters and modules can be found here :

Meeting the above requirements for panel certification and using an accredited installer are crucial for the safety and reliability of your solar system installation.

Rebates and costs

3. What rebates will I receive?

If you install a system of between 450 watts and 1000 watts, you are eligible for a federal government rebate of $8 per watt, that is; between $3600 and $8000. You can install a system larger than 1000W but the maximum federal government rebate available is $8000. Rebates are also available for upgrades in limited circumstances. For further information on the rebate scheme, refer to the DEWHA website via this link here :

4. What should my system cost?

1000 watt systems have been installed around Australia in recent years for a wide range of prices: from around $11,000 up to $16,000. The variation reflects a range of factors, including differing costs for different parts, international price movements and degree of difficulty of installation. The Australian Government $8,000 rebate (for systems over 1000 watts) reduces these costs considerably.

You are also entitled to Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) for the greenhouse gases you will be abating (over a deeming period of 15 years). These RECs have a monetary value, but the price varies from day to day. Your supplier is often prepared to buy these from you in the form of an up-front discount, usually worth some hundreds of dollars.

It is strongly recommended that you receive more than one quotation for the supply and installation of a PV system, and obtain details of the equipment in relation to assessed load, output expected, warranty and maintenance contracts offered.

5. Are there any extra costs?

Check that your installer’s quotation includes the full cost of a qualified electrician to carry out wiring and arrange connection to the grid.

Your local electricity distribution company may also charge extra fees for interconnection and provision of metering. You should check these costs with your installer or the distribution company.

System Installation and Performance

6. Does the accredited installer actually carry out the installation or someone else?

This depends on the type of accreditation held by the installer. If they hold a “supervision” installation accreditation they may have other people do much of the work. However the accredited installer must still visit the site while the installation is occurring, test & commission the system and complete the commissioning sheets. Non-accredited electricians are generally ignorant of the electrical standards required for the design and installation of a solar power system.

7. What PV system components does the warranty cover and for how long?

To qualify for a rebate, a minimum ten-year performance warranty must be offered on solar panels installed as part of the system. The onus is on the new owner of the PV system to obtain a warranty from the supplier.

8. How much energy will my system generate?

To obtain a rebate under the rebate programme the designer must discuss the predicted system performance with you and provide a performance statement setting out agreed load and other system parameters.

9. Who maintains the system?

Maintenance of the system must be performed by a qualified person. You should discuss maintenance requirements with your accredited installer.

Also, the solar modules on your roof may, from time to time, need cleaning. If you decide to do this yourself, you must observe all Occupational Health and Safety requirements relating to working at heights. If you do not observe these requirements then DO NOT attempt maintenance yourself. Call your Accredited installer.

Waiting times

10. How long does it take to be approved?

You will be required to sign a pre-approval application for the rebate. This may take 6 – 9 weeks to be approved, and your installer must wait until the pre-approval is received by you before proceeding with installation of the system. If there is missing, contradictory or incomplete information on the application form then your pre-approval may be delayed.

11. How long does it take to be paid the rebate?

After installation you will need to sign off on the installation report which is sent to DEWHA. Only after a completed installation report, including all required information, is received, will the rebate be paid into the nominated bank account. This may take up to 6 weeks. If there is missing, contradictory or incomplete information on the installation form payment of the rebate may be delayed.

After payment of the rebate, the DEWHA may choose to audit your system from time to time. If your system is selected, you will be contacted well in advance to determine a suitable, mutually convenient time. Your system’s report will be sent directly to your installer.

12. How long do I have to claim the rebate?

The rebate approval expires after 9 months if there is no installation report received at the DEWHA. Check that your installer has the capacity to install the system within this timeframe. If you decide to proceed with the installation after the six month deadline you will need to apply again for a rebate.

Interconnection with the grid

13. Who do I have to talk to arrange this?

You may be required to sign an agreement with your electricity distributor for the connection to their grid and the installation of a new meter. This meter could cost between $200 and $500. Your installer may help you with this. You also need to come to an arrangement with an electricity retailer (see below)

14. How much will I get paid for any electricity that I put back in to the grid?

You need to check with available electricity retailers as to whether they will buy back any electricity your system generates (and on what terms). If they do, then you will need to check for any fees and for the price you will be paid (as this varies amongst retailers).

Some retailers insist that you have a `gross’ meter (which monitors the absolute quantum of electricity generated) installed. This can incur additional costs as typically retailers install a `net’ meter (which only records any surplus, ie electricity generated beyond your household’s consumption).

15. What happens if there is a power cut?

Most PV systems are connected to the grid. If there is a power cut the system will be automatically and immediately switched off. This is designed as a safety measure to protect individuals who may be working on restoring the power supply from any electricity that might flow back into the grid from your system.

Feedback

If there are questions that you feel ought to be included here, please contact info@bcse.org.au