No Additional Network Charge For Queensland Solar Households

Sky Image: BigStock

Following uproar relating to a recommendation Queensland solar households be whacked with an additional fee on their electricity bills, the Queensland government has ruled out implementing the draconian measure.

In its draft report in November, the Queensland Competition Authority suggested a “cost reflective network charge for PV customers” be implemented as part of a QCA review on solar feed in tariffs in the state.

Coverage of the suggestion on the Courier Mail triggered an avalanche of comments from outraged solar households. The opposition to such a fee seems to have had an effect – The Australian reports Energy Minister Mark McArdle ruled out the additional tariff late Wednesday.

“There will be no fixed charge of any sort on people using solar,” Minister McArdle is reported to have said.

In other state solar-related news, it appears solar power systems installed in Queensland have proven their mettle in terms of reducing peak loads on the mains grid during heatwave conditions. Ergon Energy reports the most noticeable impact has been observed on mid-afternoon peak loads.

‘A reduced peak demand reduces the need for more investment in new substations or increasing the capacity of existing substations and powerlines and this takes the pressure off rising power prices,’ said Ian McLeod, Ergon’s Chief Executive.

High electricity prices and other energy efficiency measures have also played a role in reducing peak loads in the state.

Mr. McLeod said says peak demand of 1957 MW during the recent heatwave was down by 328 MW (14 per cent) on the record peak of 2285 MW set in January 2010. Solar capacity in regional areas is estimated at around 173 megawatts.

According to national provider Energy Matters, a 3kW solar panel system supplied by the company can generate electricity for as little as 5.8c per kilowatt hour, taking into account the cost of the system – far less than the 25c per kilowatt hour or more many Queenslanders are paying for mains power.