Network Costs – Solar Power Vs The Air Conditioner

Queensland’s Government continues to demonise solar households; but it seems to be still dodging the air-conditioned elephant in the room.

One of the Newman Government’s main battle cries in the war against solar households is those households are avoiding network costs – the “poles and wires” element.

Far more is spent on network infrastructure catering to each air conditioner that is commissioned; yet there is little talk from the Government of the impact of the haves on the have-nots in that regard.

In Queensland, there are more than 1.6 million air conditioners installed in 74 per cent of homes. A 2kW air-conditioner may only cost around $1500 to purchase, but requires up to an additional $7000 in infrastructure to support it. The 26 percent of households without air-conditioning are subsidising those that do and it wouldn’t be unreasonable to assume many of the 26% are lower income households.

It’s a very different story when it comes to solar panel systems. According to a recent article on The Conversation, Energex in Queensland estimates the infrastructure cost at $200 per solar system – some of which the solar consumer may pick up the tab for from the get-go for items such as meter changes.

An important point also overlooked is unlike an air-conditioner that only sucks power, a solar power system creates it – and clean power too. This high value supply eases demand on the mains grid; particularly during periods when air-conditioners create the most demand; pushing wholesale electricity costs sky-high.

Less demand on the grid also means less infrastructure upgrades required. The hundreds of thousands of households with solar power systems in Queensland have invested their hard-earned cash in building a more resilient and cleaner electricity network that will avoid some future network infrastructure upgrade costs.

While the Queensland government seems to be in panic over the backlash with regard to upcoming electricity price rises; it needs to address the situation with facts rather than perpetuating myths and pitching questionable figures, to acknowledge how its own policies have contributed to the issue and focus on what the real major culprits behind the price hikes are.