Page 359 - Week 02 - Tuesday, 14 February 2017

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Currently, if a generation project produces more than 30 kilowatts, it falls under the definition of a regulated utility service and must comply with the regulatory scheme in the act. This often includes small commercial installations operating from small business rooftops. Specifically, this requires the service to hold an operating certificate, which is granted after the electricity generation project is assessed to ensure that it is operating a safe, reliable and efficient service that has long-term serviceability and functionality.

The amendments contained in clauses 25, 27 and 29 of the bill, as we have heard from Mr Rattenbury, alter the definition of “regulated utility service” so that the regulatory regime of the Utilities (Technical Regulation) Act is appropriately targeted to larger commercial systems generating over 200 kilowatts and less than 30 megawatts. This is done by prescribing the limits in the definition by regulation so they can be altered more easily in the future, to keep pace with technological change and advances made in the electricity generation industry.

This change was made to reduce the regulatory burden and red tape for operators of smaller commercial electricity generators, such as rooftop solar systems on commercial buildings and schools. This regulation is considered unnecessary for installations generating less than 200 kilowatts because they are also regulated by the Electricity Safety Act 1971, which requires the systems to be installed by licensed electricians and checked by an electrical inspector. The community can rest assured that, despite the removal of the unnecessary regulation, appropriate controls remain in place that will ensure that the risk elements of this work are undertaken safely and subject to safety checks.

This amendment will benefit around 30 current operators of rooftop solar systems and demonstrates the government’s commitment to facilitating the generation of clean energy by removing unnecessary regulatory obstacles.

When introducing the bill, I also spoke in detail about the amendment to community consultation requirements in the Planning and Development Act 2007. I would now like to revisit the amendment in clause 19. The Planning and Development Act 2007 requires pre-development application community consultation for certain types of major development. This ensures that the community has the opportunity to be informed about and comment on major development proposals before the development application is lodged and assessed.

The amendment to the Planning and Development Regulation in clause 17—Ms Le Couteur commented on this—prescribes a new category of major development that must undergo pre-DA community consultation. The amendment will require a pre-DA community consultation for developments with multiple buildings with a combined total gross floor area of more than 7,000 square metres. Pre-DA community consultation is currently required if the development proposal includes a building that has a gross floor area larger than 5,000 square metres. A development proposal that includes multiple buildings, each with a gross floor area of less than 5,000 square metres, is not covered in all circumstances, even if the combined area is quite large.

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