NSW Solar Decision Could ‘Rip Off’ All Australians

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The contribution rooftop solar power systems make towards Australia’s energy supply is not being recognised by the New South Wales government and could consequently ‘rip off’ all Australians, says renewable think-tank Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE).
  
Last week, NSW’s Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) recommended a fair and reasonable value for surplus solar electricity exported to the mains grid up until the middle of this year is in the range of 5.2 to 10.3 cents per kilowatt hour (c/kWh). Whether the New South Wales government implements the recommendations – and if other state governments take note – remains to be seen.
   
While solar households in NSW are currently benefiting from their rooftop solar panel arrays without a mandated feed in tariff through a dramatic reduction in their power bills, BZE says as more solar owners are underpaid for the electricity they produce, “the pockets of the big old coal generator retailers will get fatter and fatter.”
  
An important point the NSW Government and IPART is accused of failing to recognise is the full impact of the “Merit Order Effect”; the focus of a study currently being conducted by the University of Melbourne’s Melbourne Energy Institute.
  
The Merit Order Effect is described by RenewEconomy’s Giles Parkinson as the ability of residential solar PV electricity production to lower wholesale power costs. 
  
“The treatment of the solar energy industry in NSW continues to lurch from the absurd to the ridiculous,” says Parkinson in a recent detailed analysis of IPART’s recommendations.
  
Beyond Zero Emissions states a fair and reasonable solar feed in tariff rate that would result in significant uptake of solar would be 35c net per kWh exported to the grid, which it says would result would in a net reduction in costs of wholesale electricity that outweigh the cost of funding the feed-in-tariff. 
   
“A pensioner in western Sydney is now missing out on lower electricity bills which would eventuate if more solar system owners were encouraged by being paid the fair price for the high value daytime power they export to the grid,” says part of a statement from BZE.