After suggestions a Coalition Government will take a national approach to managing clean energy, AuSES has called on it to also back a national solar feed in tariff scheme where system owners are paid fair value for the solar electricity they export to the mains grid.
“Australia’s solar industry would welcome a consistent national approach to solar and clean energy programs,” said John Grimes, the Chief Executive of the Australian Solar Energy Society. “The solar industry has been hamstrung by different support schemes in different States and Territories, administered independently and not coordinated with the Australian Government.”
Queensland still offers a generous feed in tariff rate for new connections of 44c kilowatt hour, but other states offer far less. Given continuing electricity price hikes, solar power systems represent a good investment regardless of feed in tariff rates; but hostile policies discourage uptake, extend reliance on fossil-fuel generation and further the status quo of centralised power generation.
“Too many Australians aren’t paid a fair price for their solar power. In Sydney today you can generate your own solar electricity and be paid just 6 cents kWh, but you have to pay 25 to 29c/kWh cents to buy electricity from the big power companies,” said Mr. Grimes.
The current situation in New South Wales is particularly profitable for power companies, estimated by AuSES at $33 million annually. Not only is the surplus electricity contributed by solar households in the state resold to others at the standard market rate, but often with a GreenPower premium attached.
Additionally, the electricity generated by solar panels is created during peak periods when the wholesale cost of electricity is at its highest, sometimes costing utilities tens of dollars per kilowatt hour from other sources. Taking peak period costs into consideration, the windfall for electricity companies may be far higher than the $33 million dollars estimated by AuSES.