ACT Government Advised To Reduce Solar Feed In Tariff Rate


The latest report by the Independent Competition and Regulatory Commission (ICRC) into feed-in tariff rates in the ACT recommends lowering the premium cash rate paid to generators of renewable energy, including those with home solar energy systems, from 45.7c a kilowatt hour to 39c a kilowatt hour. This proposed revised rate would not impact on participants who connect prior to 1 July 2011.
Citing key issues including a significant decline in the cost of solar panel manufacture and installation, along with a surge in the value of the Australian dollar over the last 12 months, the report entitled "Electricity Feed-in Renewable Energy Premium: Determination of Premium Rate 2011–12" found that the total "payback" period on a solar power system has effectively been reduced by 25 to 50 percent since the last time the Commission was asked to look at the scheme in March 2010.
ACT Energy Minister Simon Corbell requested the ICRC re-examine the territory’s solar feed-in tariff policy this month, one year after the Commission recommended making no change to the scheme for the year 2011-12 unless the federal government moved first. 
According to Mr Corbell, in light of recent policy announcements relating to the ACT’s Electricity Feed-In Tariff Act, more scrutiny of premium rate was necessary. These policy changes include: 
– the decision to create a new category of generator under the feed-in tariff arrangements, namely a medium-scale generator having an installed capacity in the range of 30kW to 200kW; 
– the decision to formally cap the total eligible generation output of the two generator categories, namely the Micro (being primarily household based) and the new Medium category; 
– the decision to create a new class of eligible participant under the feed-in tariff arrangements, namely not-for-profit community organisations.
The ICRC report recommends that the 39 cent feed-in tariff cash rate only apply to only households and businesses entering the program after July 2011, and that due to increased global production of solar panels and the high Australian exchange rate, people installing new solar energy systems will be no worse off than those who came in under the 45.7 cent premium rate.
It is not yet known if the ACT government will adopt all the changes recommended in the ICRC report.
ACT expands solar feed in tariff