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Solar PV systems can pose risks after flood

Published: 5 Feb 2019 3:54pm

Ergon Energy urges customers with rooftop solar PV systems to exercise a high level of safety and to be aware of the potential risks to their installations following the North Queensland flood.

Area Manager Wayne Alderman said customers should take the necessary precautions to ensure their safety and also to protect emergency crews and the community from additional risks, especially given the high penetrations of solar PV systems in Townsville.

“It is critical to remember solar panels and their cables should always be treated as if they are live,” Mr Alderman said.

“Even though grid-connected solar PV systems cannot supply the home when the 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.”

Mr Alderman said customers with solar PV systems may be required to shut them down at the inverter if Ergon Energy used generators to supply temporary power while crews work to repair sections of the network damaged by floodwaters.

He said customers should have followed the manufacturer’s or installer’s shutdown procedures located at the inverter or main switchboard prior to the flood if it threatened their property.

“In situations where there was a risk of the water level reaching the inverters and cables, customers should have engaged a Clean Energy Council accredited installer or licensed electrical contractor to disconnect the PV array,” he said.

Once flooding recedes, customers should continue to remain safe by:

  • Not attempting to operate any switches because residual moisture may have caused solar PV systems to become live.
  • Contacting 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 the solar PV system inverter is replaced if it has been submerged or partly submerged.

Mr Alderman said customers who have solar PV systems could also find essential safety advice on Ergon’s website at https://www.ergon.com.au/network/safety/home-safety/solar-power-safetyto support the manufacturer’s advice.

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