Faster Grid Connections For Victorian Solar Households

Solar connections in VictoriaVictoria's solar energy initiatives.

Changes to legislation in Victoria should mean faster connection times for owners of new solar power systems.

The amendments will require electricity distributors to follow shorter timeframes when receiving requests to connect solar power systems to the mains grid.

Yesterday, Minister for Energy and Resources Lily D’Ambrosio introduced the National Electricity (Victoria) Further Amendment Bill 2015, which is designed to benefit all small-scale energy generators and will bring the state more in line with others with regard to connections.

“This Bill supports the Andrews Labor Government’s election commitment to provide fairer access to the grid for small customers who are providing renewable energy,” said Minister D’Ambrosio.

“We’re putting the interests of Victorian consumers at the front and centre of our energy retail policy.”

A customer requesting connection must receive a firm offer within 10 business days. According to the Government, this will reduce connection waiting times by up to 55 business days for solar customers.

In the event a connection process is complex, distributors are required to provide clear information on the process and time limits will apply.

Generally speaking, connection terms and conditions are to be more tightly regulated and there will be increased transparency in the connection application process. Should things go awry, access to a dispute resolution process will be provided.

All distributors will also be required to make a basic contract available to small customers and generators who wish to connect to the grid

The new arrangements have been supported by electricity distributors and representatives of the small scale renewable energy sector, including the Clean Energy Council (CEC).

The most recent data available from Australia’s Clean Energy Regulator indicates there are more than 277,690 grid-connected solar power systems installed across Victoria.

Solar remains a solid investment in the state; providing better returns than many other investments.

According to Energy Matters, a 5.3kW solar power system installed in Melbourne featuring 20 SunEdison solar panels and either a Tesla Powerwall or Fronius Solar Battery can return a financial benefit of between $1,456 and $1,868 a year; depending on electricity consumption profile.