Solar Households May Be ‘Ripped Off’ By Electricity Retailers

For solar households, it really pays to shop around for the best electricity retailer deals.

According to a new report commissioned by the Alternative Technology Association (ATA), there is potential for solar households to be ‘ripped off’ by electricity retailers as solar customers can be treated as second-class citizens.

The report, Retail Offers and Market Transparency for New Solar Customers, states depending on the region; the difference between the best and the worst offer may translate to between $150 to $300 per year.

It’s not just about feed in tariff rates says the ATA – other factors may have a more substantial financial impact on the overall economics of a household solar installation.

“There’s been a lot of attention and publicity about feed-in tariffs for solar, but very little about retail consumption tariffs and other aspects of retail deals, including where retailers take away pay-on-time discounts when someone installs solar,” said Damien Moyse; the ATA’s energy projects and policy manager.

The ATA has recommended the AER and state based regulators ensure that retailers provide information about solar offers to the same standard they provide information to non-solar households.

“Retailers are treating solar customers differently from non-solar customers for no specific reason, and this is something that should be closely looked at by relevant Energy Market Regulators and potentially the ACCC.”

The ATA has also recommended a detailed review be undertaken nationally to fully ascertain the costs and benefits to all consumers of the increasing presence of solar power systems in Australian energy markets.

The report covers South Australia, NSW, Victoria and Queensland and can be downloaded here (PDF).

Tariff comparator web sites:

South Australia and New South Wales

The Alternative Technology Association is a not-for-profit organisation promoting sustainable technology and practice. The Retail Offers and Market Transparency for New Solar Customers project was funded by a research grant from the Consumer Advocacy Panel. The purpose of the Consumer Advocacy Panel is to facilitate customer advocacy in Australia’s national electricity and national gas markets.