Page 241 - Week 01 - Thursday, 15 December 2016

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This requires, for example, an operating certificate to be obtained by the utility service. The regulatory scheme is necessary to ensure that electricity generators are operating a safe, reliable and effective service that has long-term serviceability and functionality.

As solar generation becomes more prevalent, an increasing number of businesses are choosing to install rooftop solar systems. In the ACT approximately 30 of these commercial systems are above the lower limit of generation capacity. This means that they fall within the current definition of “small or medium scale generation” and, therefore, must comply with the requirements of being a regulated utility service.

This level of regulation is considered to be unnecessary, as the purpose of the Utilities (Technical Regulation) Act is to regulate larger utility services, not smaller commercial systems. The risk elements of smaller commercial systems are more appropriately regulated by the Electricity Safety Act 1971, which requires the systems to be installed by a licensed electrician and checked by an electrical inspector.

Given the fast pace of technological advancement and the commitment of this government to supporting clean energy projects, we need to ensure that regulation is appropriate and targeted to the necessary levels. Our legalisation must be responsive to an electricity network that increasingly features clean energy such as rooftop solar.

Clause 25 of the bill amends the definition of “small or medium scale generation” so the limits will be prescribed by regulation. This makes the definition more easily changeable in the future so it can respond to this rapidly evolving sector. Clauses 28 and 29 of the bill create a new regulation that increases the lower limit in the definition from 30 kilowatts to 200 kilowatts. This will mean that smaller commercial solar systems will no longer fall within the definition and, therefore, will not be subject to the additional regulation imposed by the Utilities (Technical Regulation) Act. By removing unnecessary regulatory obstacles, this government will continue to facilitate the generation of clean energy.

The second minor policy amendment I would like to mention is to community consultation requirements in the Planning and Development Act 2007. Pre-development application community consultation is mandated for certain types of development listed in the Planning and Development Regulation 2008. This is to ensure that the community is informed about and has an opportunity to comment on major development proposals in the territory.

Pre-DA community consultation is currently required for a development proposal for a building that has a gross floor area larger than 5,000 square metres. Currently, if a development consists of multiple buildings, none of which are individually above 5,000 square metres in that threshold, then community consultation is not required regardless of the accumulative size of the development. This means that some major developments are not required to undertake pre-DA community consultation, and this is not an ideal outcome.

This amendment in clause 17 of the bill will require pre-DA community consultation for developments with multiple buildings of a combined total gross floor area of more than 7,000 square metres. Clause 17 inserts this type of development into section 20A of the Planning and Development Regulation.

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