The Darling Downs and South West Queensland Council of Mayors (DDSWQ) has voiced its concerns to State Government about proposed changes to regulations that will affect the solar industry.
The changes to the Electrical Safety (Solar Farms) Amendment Regulation 2019 and associated Code of Practice mean that only licensed electricians could carry out any work in mounting, locating, fixing and removing solar panels on solar farms of 100Kw capacity or larger.
DDSWQ Chair Mayor Paul Antonio said that these changes would have a drastic effect on local employment in Darling Downs and South West Queensland centres.
“The proposed changes would force the solar farm industry to, in many cases, bring in electricians from outside the area to undertake manual and mechanical tasks associated with erecting solar panels,” Mayor Antonio said.
“Western Queensland is the ideal environment for the solar farm industry with a growing number of projects across the Darling Downs and South West.
“With limited numbers of licensed electricians in rural communities, these changes have the potential to rob local workers of manual labour jobs, increase costs of construction as well as causing potential delays in project completion.
“Solar projects will form a major platform for future jobs growth in these regional and remote centres and this amendment will take away jobs and could jeopardise the viability of projects.
“The DDSWQ Mayors urge the State Government to defer these changes and review the new regulations in consultation with the solar farm industry and the Councils representing the affected communities from Warwick to Thargomindah.
“We all want cleaner energy and workplace safety, however, we don’t believe that the new regulations are well targeted and potentially will hurt the livelihoods of many rural and remote workers.”