Victorian solar feed-in tariffs determine how much residents get for the electricity their solar panels feed into the grid.
In Victoria, depending on your electricity retailer and your plan, your feed-in tariff can be fixed rate or time-varying.
From July 1 2019 to June 30 2020, the minimum fixed rate feed-in tariff your retailer can pay you is 12c per kWh. This means you get 12c if you feed one kilowatt into the grid for one hour.
Now let’s look at the time-varying feed-in tariff in Victoria and how it affects anyone with solar panels.
Victorian solar feed-in tariffs at a glance
For retailers offering time-varying feed-in tariffs from July 1 2019, the payments they must offer are as follows:
|Period||Weekday||Weekend||Rate (cents per kilowatt hour)|
|Off peak||10pm to 7am||10pm to 7am||9.9 c/kWh|
|Shoulder||7am to 3pm, 9pm to 10pm||7am to 10pm||11.6 c/kWh|
|Peak||3pm to 9pm||n/a||14.6 c/kWh|
These tariffs are set by the Victorian Essential Services Commission. The Commission determines the minimum feed-in tariff by forecasting the wholesale price of electricity for the year ahead.
Wholesale prices change at different times of the day due to supply and demand. As solar panels generally only export power to the grid during certain hours of the day, the Commission only uses the forecast wholesale price for electricity during these ‘solar hours’.
When the time-varying Victorian solar feed-in tariff became available in July 2018, EnergyAustralia was the first retailer to offer it. It still offers time-varying rates as per the table above.
Origin Energy doesn’t offer time-varying feed-in tariffs, instead offering a fixed feed-in tariff of 12c. The same applies to AGL.
Will the time-varying feed-in tariff save me money?
The $64,000 question is whether you will save money using time-varying solar feed-in tariffs. That depends on your energy use. Assuming that you have only solar panels and no battery, you need to compare ‘upload’ to ‘download’ electricity rates.
If you work afternoons/nights and use most electricity during the day, then you can get the peak rate of uploading to the grid from 3pm-9pm – 14.6c (in 2018, it was 29c!).
So if you got all your washing, ironing, cooking and TV-watching done before three, you could then export your solar panel electricity and earn that 14c per hour per kilowatt.
Time varying tariffs – downloads
You should not confuse time-varying solar feed-in tariffs with time-varying electricity plans; i.e. what you pay for your electricity. In fact, solar panel owners should avoid these plans.
That’s because people tend to use more electricity during the evening anyway, when time-varying tariffs are most expensive.
During the day, their solar panels offer them ‘free’ electricity, making the cheap rates redundant.
The story changes if you have a solar battery, however. Which means it’s a good idea to do some research, read your power bills carefully and crunch some numbers before you choose an electricity plan.