Recommendation Threatens ACT Solar Feed In Tariff

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The Independent Competition and Regulatory Commission last week release a draft report and recommendation on the solar feed-in tariff premium rate to be paid in 2010-11 in the ACT.

The Commission made a draft recommendation that the premium rate for 2010-11 be set at 37 cents per kilowatt hour of electricity generated by new systems connected under the program after June this year.

This is a big drop compared to the 50.05c/kWh currently being paid for the output of solar power systems up to 10kw capacity. A standard grid connected home solar power system is usually around the 1.5kW size, meaning just about all solar households in the ACT currently receive the 50.05c/kWh for all the electricity they produce.

The ACT solar feed in tariff is one of the most generous in Australia and has created a solar boom in the region as households rush to have systems installed.

According to Max Sylvester, co-founder of national provider of home solar power solutions Energy Matters, “The lower rate would likely mean less uptake of rooftop home solar power systems in the ACT as the rate suggested by the ICRC is a drop in the region of 25%. This isn’t good for households, the solar industry and importantly, it will negatively impact on the ACT’s great strides toward lowering household related greenhouse gas emissions.”

While ACT Energy Minister Simon Corbell has indicated the Government may reject the recommendation, a firm decision is yet to be made.

Mr. Sylvester says that given the lingering uncertainty, people considering installing systems may be wise to act now. “According to the ACT feed in tariff guidelines, the rate is set each year. However, when someone enters into an arrangement with their electricity supplier they are guaranteed payment of the current price prevailing at that time for the full 20 years of the agreement. By having a system installed now and beating the inevitable rush should the ICRC’s recommendation be adopted, the higher rate can be locked in.”
Energy Matters has also created an ACT solar buyers group to help Canberra residents have systems installed before June and in addition to existing rebates, save even more on home solar power systems.

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