Impact Investment Group (IIG), the developers of Brigalow Solar Farm near Pittsworth in Queensland, is suing the Queensland Government over controversial new laws that forbid unskilled workers from mounting solar panels.
From May 13, only licensed electricians in Queensland can mount, fix, locate or remove solar panels on farms with a total rated capacity of at least 100kW, a move the Clean Energy Council (CEC) has likened to a homeowner calling an electrician to mount a TV.
But, the electrical trades union (ETU) said the move was necessary, with repeated cases of backpackers and other unskilled workers putting themselves and the public at risk.
“Safety audit after safety audit revealed unreasonable risks including faulty installations being performed by unlicensed workers,” ETU Queensland state secretary Peter Ong said.
The CEC, which has opposed the legislation since it was announced in April, said it supports the legal action undertaken by IIG.
“In our view, this regulation will increase the costs of projects, reduce employment opportunities for local communities, and lead to a downturn in clean energy investment in Queensland, without delivering any safety benefit,” CEC director of energy generation Anna Freeman said.
“We believe that the new regulation is inconsistent with the Queensland Electrical Safety Act, as it affects activities that are not classified as electrical work under that legislation.
“The Brigalow Solar Farm feels obliged to challenge the regulation through the courts because the industry has been unable to resolve the matter in discussions with the government …”
Construction at Brigalow Solar Farm commenced in January this year, and remains under development.
IIG has filed in Queensland’s Supreme Court, presumably facing challenges relating to increased costs or the ability to find skilled workers for works on Brigalow Solar Farm.
The news of the legal action comes a week after the CEC reported workers were downing tools at Queensland solar farms as businesses scrambled to find licensed electricians.