More homeowners want to switch to solar power

10th April 2014

The evidence is that more people want to install solar panels and some want to expand their systems but there are barriers as Matt Johnston reports (Herald Sun 9/4/14):

"Homeowners in the outer southeast and west of Melbourne have joined regional families in the quest for cheap power as Victoria’s solar hot spots rapidly expand. Between 16 and 19 per cent of home owner-occupiers in the state seats of Cranbourne and Tarneit now have solar panels. But some property owners are having difficulty expanding their use of solar, with power companies knocking back some requests because of rules about power exports into the grid.

"Terindah Estate winery owner Peter Slattery told the Herald Sun he had applied to double his 40 panels at his estate, but was told he could have just 17. Mr Slattery said if he could reduce power costs he would be able to look at capital investments or putting on more staff. 'I don’t understand them not encouraging solar where there’s plenty of roof space available,' he said.

"Distribution company Powercor said the issue was caused by the Victorian Electricity Distribution Code, which is designed to 'prevent voltage variability into the grid as a result of distributed generation'.

"Solar voters are set to be targeted by the Greens ahead of the state election, with Victorian leader Greg Barber offering policies to lock in feed-in tariffs and to allow households to connect to the grid. Mr Barber said solar households were in areas outside the Greens’ usual inner Melbourne patch, and the party wanted to grab votes in Liberal seats.

"Solar data from the Clean Energy Regulator shows that Tarneit, Ovens Valley, Murray Plains, Cranbourne and Benambra have the highest percentage of household solar installations. And suburbs in the upper house seats of South Eastern Metropolitan and Western Metropolitan regions have some of the highest take-up of solar. 'Nobody has worked out yet how to capture the solar vote and it is a sleeping giant in Australian politics,' Mr Barber said. "


A cynic might say that the Powercor comment is ‘code’ for: “Even though photovoltaic panels have been commercially available for over thirty five years we have not organised our grid to cope with this challenging technology.”