Queensland amends law to stop exploitation of Solar Bonus Scheme

Queensland Police install solar panel arraysImage: Queensland Government

The Queensland Government says a legislative amendment will prevent exploitation of its Solar Bonus Scheme.

Energy Minister Mark Bailey introduced a bill on June 15 to limit the amount of energy solar power consumers can feed into the main grid.

The new legislation puts a limit on the maximum output of the customer’s qualifying generator.

This will stop installation of solar generation systems that enable consumers to supply their premises while feeding energy into the grid that is eligible for the Solar Bonus Scheme.

Battery storage benefits penalised by government

With a boom in the use of batteries to store solar power, Mr Bailey told the Courier Mail it was necessary to stop some consumers from “gaming the system”.

Queensland Solar Bonus Scheme

Queensland clamps down on Solar Bonus Scheme ‘gaming’. Image: Pixabay

Some homes now use improved battery storage to store enough electricity for home use while simultaneously feeding power into the main grid and reaping the feed-in tariff.

Customers who applied for the Queensland Solar Bonus Scheme before 10 July 2012 and maintain their eligibility can continue to receive a feed-in tariff of 44 cents. This feed-in tariff is closed to new solar customers.

“When the Solar Bonus Scheme was first established, new technologies like batteries were not a consideration,” Mr Bailey said.

“These new rules will clarify how batteries and additional generation can work within the solar bonus scheme remaining consistent with the original intent of the scheme.”

Also banned will be the practice of battery “oversizing”, where solar users install more panels than their inverter allows while also increasing the capacity of the battery.

Government warns of 25% price hike to Solar Bonus Scheme

Government projections show that if the amendments were not introduced the cost of the Solar Bonus Scheme could balloon 25 per cent by 2028, raising the cost from $4.1 billion to $5.1 billion.

Mr Bailey said the State Government will continue to honour the original agreement with Queenslanders who took up the Solar Bonus Scheme.

“What we don’t want to see is people taking advantage of new technology in a way that isn’t consistent with the original intent of the scheme,” he said.

The legislation will be applied retrospectively from June 15 to ensure there is no sudden rush of solar users trying to fit in under the old system.

Customers who have existing systems in place will not be affected by the changes to the legislation.

The amendment is expected to be back before State Parliament later this year.