In what appears to be a first for Australia, Western Australia’s Horizon Power will introduce area-specific solar feed-in tariffs. While owners of systems in some towns will receive a much higher rate, others will receive less.
Horizon Power’s Renewable Energy Buyback Scheme rate is currently equivalent to a customer’s current electricity tariff, minus GST. Horizon’s incentive is in addition to Western Australia’s state government mandated feed in tariff rate of 8c per kilowatt hour.
From 1 July 2012, a minimum buyback rate of 10 cents per kilowatt hour and a maximum of 50 cents per kilowatt hour will apply to Horizon solar customers, depending on location.
“Customers in Meekatharra for example, will receive a buyback rate of 50 cents for every kilowatt hour exported, while customers in Broome will receive a buyback rate of 10 cents,” said Scott Davis, Horizon Power Manager Sales, Marketing and Product Development.
The additional state government component will not be affected by the change. According to Mr. Davis, all Horizon customers except those already on a commercial buyback contract with Horizon Power will be automatically transferred over to the new pricing structure from July 1.
Horizon says the change is to recognise the difference in the cost of delivering energy to various areas. Households with solar panels in towns located further from energy generation sources, or where power generation is expensive, will be offered higher prices for the electricity they export to the grid. In others, the incentive will be lowered to reflect the lower cost of providing electricity to those areas.
State Government-owned Horizon Power supplies electricity to more than 100,000 residents and 9000 businesses across regional Western Australia.
With electricity prices in Western Australia to keep rising, households in the state are installing solar panels to decrease or even wipe out their electricity bills. According to national solar solutions provider Energy Matters, a 3.2kW rooftop solar power installation in Perth can generate electricity savings of just under $1,200 a year. For households in regional and remote areas of Western Australia, under Horizon’s new feed in tariff structure the savings could be much higher.