A proposal from Synergy’s chairman to charge solar households in Western Australia an extra fee has met with a strong reaction – and could also meet with the same fate similar ploys have experienced elsewhere in Australia.
The proposal isn’t just targeting those with solar panels – it also seeks to penalise those who consume significant power and holiday home owners.
While stating the company supports solar, Synergy’s chairman believes fixed charges for solar households don’t reflect the actual cost of being connected to the network.
“That means other consumers have to pay or the taxpayers have to pay. That’s not fair. That’s not efficient,” said Synergy chairman Lyndon Rowe in an interview.
Solar Citizens begs to differ.
“Solar Citizens welcomes efforts to ensure that electricity users are encouraged to use power sensibly but targeting solar households is not the way to go. It’s a ludicrous idea that Premier Barnett should step in and rule out immediately,” said Reece Turner; the group’s Consumer Campaigner.
“More than one in five homes are powered by the sun. These people have made the sensible decision to invest in clean, abundant energy and should not be penalised.”
While praising some of Synergy’s and the Western Australian government’s recent actions, including investments in battery storage and permitting home battery systems to export to the mains grid; Mr. Turner says this proposal should be binned before the ink is dry.
Mr. Turner pointed to Western Australia’s “gold plating” of its mains grid network as the source of Synergy’s woes, an over-investment estimated at $3.85bn just in 2011-12. ‘Poles and wires’ investment is one of the issues that the installation of solar helps alleviate and it has already been shown grid connected solar power systems cut down on peak loads.
Solar Citizens may gain solid support from the more than 191,000 solar households in the state who invested in solar panels as a means of reducing their electricity bills; particularly the early adopters who made significant outlays and paved the way for cheaper solar for all. The organisation has launched a petition calling on Premier Barnett to “to step in and stop this cash grab”.
Other attempts at a “sun tax” have occurred in South Australia and New South Wales – and to date both have been unsuccessful.