Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) are the trading system that underpins the Renewable Energy Target (RET) and facilitates the installation of solar panels and solar hot water systems.
The industry leaders who have established the REC Agents Association (RAA) have pledged to work closely with the Federal Government and the new Clean Energy Regulator to monitor and improve compliance by agents with relevant legislation, and to provide advice to the statutory review of the RET.
The RAA says that it will be a strong, public advocate for the RET and other market-based schemes, and that it will address some of the misinformation around the cost and effectiveness of these schemes – in particular, that the RET is a major driver of rising electricity prices.
The inaugural board of the RAA includes four REC agents: Ric Brazzale, Managing Director of Green Energy Trading, as President; Fiona O’Hehir, Chief Executive of Greenbank Environmental, as Vice-President; Geoffrey Alexander, Chief Operating Officer of COZero, as Treasurer and Stephen Coleman of RET Australia, as Founding Member. Dermot Duncan, Special Counsel Head of Environmental and Energy Projects at Crisp Legal, will take up the role of Secretary.Article continues below…
A new focus
RAA President Ric Brazzale says that initially, the RAA will focus on the small-scale renewable energy market and the creation and trading of Small-scale Technology Certificates.
“REC agents help the REC market to operate by facilitating the flow of funds between electricity retailers and small renewable energy installers, which enables the end consumers to efficiently receive an upfront discount for their systems,” Mr Brazzale explains.
“The regulatory requirements for creating the certificates for installation of solar can be quite administratively onerous. Agents provide a mechanism to take a lot of the pain and the hassle out of completing the paperwork for our clients.”
In the middle of 2011, several REC agents went out of business and left a number of solar businesses and installers significantly out of pocket – and some of these in turn also went out of business. This led to the Federal Government introducing some changes to the RET legislation that gave the Regulator additional powers to suspend agents.
“The lessons from this experience were that a code of practice and accreditation are required,” Mr Brazzale continues. “In the long term, we thought that the best approach was to have a robust compliance and accreditation program, rather than perhaps some heavy-handed response from the Government that would potentially impose a lot of costs onto solar companies and solar consumers.”
Unique services from the RAA
Mr Brazzale says that the RAA’s plan over the next few months will be to consult with the clean energy industry as well as government, the Regulator and other stakeholders to put together the code of conduct and accreditation process.
“Our objective is to have a robust accreditation process so that consumers and also the solar industry can have confidence that REC agents are going to perform and deliver,” Mr Brazzale notes.
“We also plan to undertake and release some research and analysis on what some of the market-based schemes that we operate in have delivered.”
Mr Brazzale says that his experience to date indicates that a key challenge will be ensuring that the industry maintains community and political support.
“Given what we are trying to achieve, a consultative and collaborative approach is required, and we will need to effectively engage with many stakeholders.”
Other objectives for Mr Brazzale during his time at the helm of the RAA include making a constructive contribution to the RET review and ensuring that its achievements are understood and appreciated.
Ric Brazzale is the Managing Director of Green Energy Trading. He was the Executive Director of the Business Council for Sustainable Energy – now the Clean Energy Council – and during this time he was actively involved in the development and implementation of a broad range of solar energy and energy efficiency policies and programs, including participating in the initial Renewable Energy Certificates Advisory Committee. Mr Brazzale has also previously worked in a number of business development and finance roles with companies including Fletcher Challenge Energy, John Holland and Woodside Petroleum.