Rooftop solar and fair tariffs

11th April 2014

Giles Parkinson reports in RenewEconomy (10/4/14):

“'Rooftop solar is a sleeping giant in Australian politics … but no one has worked out how to capture it yet', Greg Barber, the leader of the Greens in Victoria, told RenewEconomy.

“But the touchstone may be over the right to connect, expand, and to get fair tariffs. Barber – and the solar industry more broadly – cite numerous instances where distributors such as Powercorp have been either refusing connections or forcing applicants, both households and commercial businesses, to downsize their planned rooftop arrays. Powercorp and other distributors cite voltage issues as the main reason, but the solar industry rejects this. Similar stories, including demands for big connection fees and costly appeals process, are widespread in NSW and Queensland.

“'The Greens – and the solar industry, for that matter – think that a crunch point will emerge in 2016, when significant numbers of Victorian households lose their interim 25c/kWh tariffs for exports. At that point, Barber says, more than half the 207,000 households in Victoria will be offered only 8c/kWh. It is the Greens’ intention to make this an issue in the 2014 poll. They want to enshrine the right to connect and for 1:1 net tariff for rooftop solar. That idea is likely to be fiercely fought by electricity retailers, generators and network operators. ...

“'People are very cranky over the idea that the utilities are paying them just 8c/kWh, yet will sell back the electricity at four times the price a few minutes later', said Stephen Ingrouille, founder and CEO of Going Solar. 'It’s a comment we hear all the time', Ingrouille said. 'The householders recognise that solar output is valuable during the peak periods, and they know that the utilities are doing well out of it. Unless the utilities start to change their tune rapidly, they will get left behind, because the solar technology is moving so fast'.”

Read the full article at