Court Rules Against ‘Solar Tax’ In South Australia

Solar tax deniedBackground Image: BigStock

A decision in the Federal Court to prevent a “solar tax” being applied in South Australia has implications nationally.

Yesterday, Justice John Mansfield ruled in favour of an earlier decision that would prevent SA Power Networks “gouging solar rooftop owners” says Solar Citizens.

SA Power Networks had appealed against the Australian Energy Regulator’s decision to disallow SAPN introducing a higher tariff for solar households.

“This court decision today protects solar homeowners from South Australian Power Networks trying to push unfair fees onto the solar community by any means possible,” said Solar Citizens Consumer Campaigner Reece Turner.

“It’s a sensible outcome to stop SA Power Networks from charging solar households an average of $100 per year.”

The $100 a year would have been a sizeable bite from potential savings to be had by installing solar panels. According to Energy Matters, a 3kW solar power system installed in Adelaide can provide a financial benefit of up to $1,270 annually, depending on consumption profile and installation scenario.

The decision has national ramifications.

“This Federal Court decision is broader than just SA. If SAPN had been successful, it is highly likely that other networks would have gone down the same road,” said Mark Byrne, energy market advocate at Total Environment Centre.

“This decision places all electricity networks across Australia on notice that they cannot unfairly charge solar households more to cover the cost of their poor planning for an electricity network changing from fossil fuels to greener energy and lower consumption.”

Justice Mansfield’s oral judgment will be followed up by a written judgment next month.

There are now more than 191,000 solar power systems installed in South Australia. While the state doesn’t have the highest overall number of installations, it does have the highest rate of uptake. South Australia also boasts the largest amount of wind power capacity installed nationally and one of the highest per-capita wind power generation rates globally.

41% of the state’s electricity generation this year has been from renewable sources.

Recently South Australia committed to adopting a target of zero net emissions (carbon neutrality) by 2050.