Updated: Wednesday 2.15pm
Rates for the hugely popular feed in tariff program in New South Wales, the Solar Bonus Scheme, have been scaled back dramatically for new connections under the program.
According to a release from the Premier of New South Wales, Kristina Keneally, due to the unexpected rate of subscription in the first 10 months of the Solar Bonus Scheme, the Government today announced a major revamp that see the immediate close of the current program at midnight to new connections, and the introduction of a new program with a rate of 20 cents/kWh paid to system owners.
Important: Customers already participating in the scheme will not be affected by the changes. Customers who have already purchased a solar power system by midnight tonight but have yet to have it installed will have 21 days to lodge their applications to join the program in order to receive the 60c/kWh.
Given this information, Energy Matters has extended its office hours to 11pm tonight (Wednesday), for those NSW households who have not yet paid a deposit on a system. By putting down a deposit on a solar power system today/tonight and submitting the application for the Solar Bonus Scheme within 21 days, these households will still receive the full 60c per kilowatt hour.
We do expect the lines to be busy right up until 11pm; so we suggest calling our hotline on 133 SUN as soon as possible.
This new rate is a huge decrease from the previous 60c per kilowatt hour paid previously in what was one of the most generous solar feed in tariff schemes in Australia. While the rate per kilowatt hour has been slashed, the Government says the overall capacity limit of 300 MW for all generators connected under the Scheme is “far more generous than caps that exist in other states including Victoria and the ACT,” – meaning more households will be able to participate in the Scheme.
The New South Wales Solar Bonus Scheme went into review in August after reaching its first milestone of 50 megawatts installed capacity.
While in the review period, the NSW Opposition called for the scheme to be axed altogether, stating it had “exploded in the face of consumers” in terms of increasing electricity costs; however, the Clean Energy Council said the cost of supporting the program was a “drop in the ocean” compared to the billions of dollars in network costs that it says were the major culprits for driving a spike in electricity prices in NSW.
The new program will be subject to a review on 1 July 2012 and at the end of the program (31 December 2016).
Please note: As this is a breaking story, there is a great deal of missing information regarding the announcement at this point. Energy Matters will update this news item as additional information comes to hand.