Brunswick home owner and environmental consultant Peter Allan recently invested $24,000 on a 2.4 kilowatt grid connected solar power system consisting of 14 solar panels, but was frustrated to discover that his contribution to reducing Australian greenhouse gas emissions was penalised.
According to a recent article in a series by The Age’s Royce Millar on challenges facing consumers, the solar industry and its supporters in Australia, the Victorian state government’s feed in tariff scheme, under which residents with panels would be paid a premium for the surplus power they export into the electricity grid, excluded Mr Allan’s systems as it was too large.
The Victorian feed in tariff is available to households, not businesses, with systems of less than two kilowatts. Mr Allan’s grid connected system exceeded that by a mere 400 watts. Disgusted with the limitation, Mr Allan has now removed solar panels from his roof, stating he says he will smash the panels on the steps of Parliament House as a protest unless the Victorian government lifts the 2 kilowatt cap.
Mr Allan believes that the cap should be lifted to at least 10 kilowatts and furthermore that the subsidy should apply to all solar electricity producers including farmers and business.
Mr Allan’s sentiments are being echoed around Australia by many wishing to install systems or to be properly financially recognised for the contribution the system they have is making towards Australia meeting its renewable energy target. Feed in tariff programs vary wildly from state to state, with most only offering a net feed in tariff model. The net based system only pays on energy exported to the grid in excess of what is consumed by the building where it is installed. A gross feed in tariff system pays a premium on all electricity produced.
Thousands of current and potential solar power system owners are asking why the ACT can offer a gross feed in tariff of approximately 60 cents per kilowatt hour produced by systems as large as 20 kilowatts and guaranteed for 20 years, whereas other states offer far less and a net system or, as is the case in Western Australia, nothing at all.
Victoria based Energy Matters, a country-wide supplier and installer of grid connect solar power systems believes the solution is a national, uniform gross feed in tariff system administered by the Australian federal government. The company recently launched a petition at FeedInTariff.com.au to gather support to present to the Australian government. The petition has so far gathered over 5,800 signatures from concerned Australians wanting to see a better deal for owners of solar power systems who are making a solid contribution to reducing the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions.