Tasmania Solar Feed In Tariff Update

It’s looking increasingly like the best time to go solar in Tasmania is right now.

The Tasmanian Government is reforming the State’s electricity supply industry and as part of those changes, Aurora Energy will be replaced by private companies in 2014.

There have been fears that when that happens, the Apple Isle’s solar feed in tariff will be slashed.

However, a discussion paper released yesterday by the Tasmanian government indicates that for existing solar households and those installing solar panels before January next year; the current 1 for 1 feed in tariff will stay in place until 2017. The paper states:

“All existing Aurora Energy Net Metering Buyback Scheme (NMBS) customers – including all intending customers who have paid a deposit on a distributed generation system – would continue to receive the 1:1 rate for their net exported electricity until 1 January 2017, on the condition that the customer remains on their existing retail contract.”

After that date, owners of solar power systems would be paid a rate determined to be “fair and reasonable” by the Tasmanian Economic Regulator; which would be reviewed annually.

Assuming the government’s plans for the feed in tariff go ahead, the case for installing solar before January is strong. The current FiT of around 27c could possibly be much more generous than the as yet unannounced “fair and reasonable” rate that will apply from January 1. The experience in other states that have gone down this path indicate it could be 40% less – or even lower; plus retailer contribution if any.

Consequently, in that situation, Tasmanian households going solar now will see a greatly accelerated payback period on their systems.

According to information from national solar provider Energy Matters, under current arrangements, a good quality 6kW solar power system installed in Hobart or Launceston can provide a financial benefit of around $1,780 annually.

The Issues Paper, Feed-in Tariffs: Transition to Full Retail Competition, is available for download here (PDF). Comment is invited by 7 June 2013.