Be solar safe for TC Nathan

Published: 19 Mar 2015 11:19am

Ergon Energy urges customers with solar PV systems to exercise a high level of safety by being fully aware of the potential risks that wild weather or flooding might pose to their installations.

"Winds, water and debris from Tropical Cyclone Nathan have the potential to impact solar PV systems and it is crucial that customers take steps to ensure their own safety and emergency crews," Customer Delivery Manager Tropical Charlie Casa said.

"It is critical to remember that solar panels and their cables should always be treated as if they are live."

"Even though most grid-connected solar PV systems cannot supply the home when our network is not operational, they can continue to generate direct current (DC) power.

"So customers should not attempt to reconnect solar PV systems after severe storms or roof damage, as their roof may be live," he said.

During network repairs or maintenance, customers with solar PV systems may be required to shut them down at the inverter if Ergon Energy uses generators to supply temporary power while crews work on the poles and wires.

After a storm or cyclone

  • Flying debris may have damaged the roof or solar PV system. If concerned about the integrity of your system, follow the manufacturer's or installer's shutdown procedures located at the inverter or main switchboard
  • Do not attempt to reconnect solar PV systems after severe storms if your property has suffered roof damage. Your roof may be live or residual moisture may have caused the system to become live
  • Visually inspect the system in a safe way, and if concerned, call the installer or a licensed electrical contractor
  • Contact a Clean Energy Council accredited installer to test or recommission the system, or a licensed electrical contractor to test that it is safe
  • If safe to switch the system back on, monitor the inverter to ensure the system is operating correctly.

Before a flood

  • When preparing for a flood, customers should follow the manufacturers or installer's shutdown procedures located at the inverter or main switchboard
  • If there is a risk that water levels could reach the inverters and cables, contact a Clean Energy Council accredited installer or licensed electrical contractor to disconnect the PV array and ensure safety.

 After a flood

  • Following receding flood waters, do not attempt to operate any switches as residual moisture may have caused solar PV systems to become live
  • Contact a Clean Energy Council accredited installer to re-commission the system
  • If an installer is not available, contact a licensed electrical contractor who can check your system to ensure it is safe
  • Ensure that the solar PV system inverter is replaced if it has been submerged or partly submerged.

If your home or business becomes inundated with floodwater and the mains power is still connected, contact Ergon Energy immediately on 13 22 96 to arrange disconnection.

"Safety should always be your number one priority," Mr Casa urged. "Please do not access the roof without having the system checked first."

Please refer to our safety advice about solar PV systems.

Extensive information about maintenance and checks on solar PV systems can be found online at the Queensland Worksafe website.

Media Contact: John Fowler
Phone: 07 443287630 or 0417283713

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