There is a lot of discussion in the industry regarding exactly how the New South Wales Solar Bonus Scheme will affect properties meter boxes and connections with the grid. Solar Choice has done the preliminary research, and has an update for all NSW solar energy customers, especially those with Energy Australia.
The three network suppliers, Energy Australia, Country Energy and Integral, all have different approaches to the provision and installation of the Gross Feed-In meters that are going to be required for properties to feed their solar energy onto the grid as a part of the Solar Bonus Scheme. There are several factors that need to be considered, regarding the existing setup of metering at the property and how to go about the solar change. Remember that whilst the three network suppliers are also retailers, if you are with a different retailer, such as AGL, Origin or Tru Energy, you will need to find out who your network supplier is and take the appropriate action. Your network supplier is the company that owns the poles and wires in your area. This could be either Energy Australia (Sydney CBD, eastern, norther, southern suburbs and the Hunter), Integral Energy (Western Sydney & Blue Mountains) or Country Energy (rural NSW).
The Provision and Installation of Gross Meters
Energy Australia are supplying the gross meters for free to all of their customers. They are expecting to have the first shipment available for collection from their supply warehouses and offices across the state from the end of March, 2010. These meters can be picked up by the property owner from this time. They will need to be installed, however, by an accredited level 2 service provider (electrician). It is not clear whether the electrician engaged by the property owner to carry out this work can pick up the meters themselves from Energy Australia, but it is likely that so long as a pick-up form detailing the property where the installation is taken place is filled out this will be an option.
Now the costs of installing this meter will differ, as we have all been told previously. This range will run from $175 to $500 depending on the following situation. The meter itself is around the size of a single school lunch box, and it will need to be installed inside the casing of the existing meter box, protected from the elements. If there is not enough space to house the meter, then the existing metering will need to be partially removed, and a space-saving alternative will need to be used. This will be the more expensive end of the spectrum for obvious parts and labour reasons.
Required Changes to Various Existing Metering Setups
There are a couple of situations outside of standard residential installations where the running of additional cabling needs to be considered. Here are the facts as we know them, and this is not specific to Energy Australia customers, but to all NSW residents.
These will need to be upgraded to ‘Smart’ Meters, costing various amounts depending on the retailer, but on average approximately $350 to supply and install. It is not clear whether this charge will be in addition to the gross meter upgrade or part of it yet, so please check with your provider. Solar Choice will update this information as it becomes available. The rundown from the Victorian Government is available here.
Long Distances from Meter to Property
This issue has been brought up for good reason by rural property owners looking to install solar energy systems. The reality is that the gross meter and inverter must be installed on the main meter box for the property. This means that in the situation where people have their meter box near the fence, running cabling to sub-boards and master switch boards on the actual structures, additional cabling must be run from the solar energy system to the meter box in order to receive a Gross Feed-In Tariff. This is not negotiable. It is possible for people wanting to utilise a Net Feed-In Tariff to install the inverter on the sub-boards, avoiding this cable running. NSW residents can do this, but the clear advantages of Gross over Net Feed-In Tariffs would suggest long considerations otherwise.
What this means is that trenching or overhead cabling must be used to hook the system up to the meter, with trenching having obvious advantages aesthetically and practically. This will have to be sub contracted out to an appropriate source. Remember to ‘Dial Before You Dig!‘
Blocks of Units/Flats/Apartments
This is another tricky issue, dependent upon the location of the meter box in comparison with the installation site. Some properties have a room where all of the meter boxes are located, others have them strategically situated according to the flat they represent. Be aware that much like with rural properties, cabling running the power in DC from panels through the inverter and then to the meter will be required. This could prove tricky in a lot of situations, with cabling required to pass through public areas, walls, ceilings and various other obstacles. Be assured that the costs of running this cabling would need to be closely evaluated by the Strata Management/Body Corporate authorities to comply with their requirements, and could prove to be expensive and time consuming on behalf of the solar energy installer carrying out the job.
Solar Energy Broker
© 2010 Solar Choice Pty Ltd
- Solar energy to be cost competitive with coal and nuclear by 2020: McKinsley - 23 April, 2012
- Gross Metering Details for Energy Australia New South Wales - 9 February, 2010
- List of CEC (formerly BCSE) Approved Solar Energy Components - 5 November, 2009
I have had solar installed for long enough to be eligable for the 60 cent buy back but have been informed that Australia Power & Gas do not pay out ther credits, how do I go about claiming my credits as this was a big part of paying for the system.
Whether you can get paid in credits or cash depends on your provider. I’m not really sure what you mean by your question, though–are you asking whether you can get cash for the electricity that you have fed into the grid? Usually this is credited directly to your bill. Usually feed-in tariffs are not payable until you have generated the electricity, while solar credits (RECs/STCs) are payable up-front.
Please also keep in mind that you are only eligible to sign up for the Solar Bonus scheme if you actually applied for the 60c tariff when it was available. If you had a solar system installed before the 60c tariff was enacted, you may not have been eligible to sign up for it.
In any case, it is advisable for you to call up Australian Power and Gas directly and ask them.
How much the charge for a special meter read?
Thanks for the comment.
Unfortunately, I can’t answer that question until I know where you live and who your electricity retailer is!
Our PV solar array, generator, and inverter have been installed on the 7th of january 2011, where can I collect the solar gross metre to complete the solar system please.
Hello William. That would depend on what state you are in. In any case, it would be best for you to contact your electricity provider to get an answer to that question! They should be able to tell you what to do in order to get a gross metre.
Why does the photograph at the beginning of this site
show the new meter mounted on the outside of the meter box?
Hi David! It’s just a stock photo of an electricity meter! It is not meant to be an actual indication of what a gross or net meter looks like. Thanks for paying attention, though!
I want to read my Gross meter, however I need to know each register function. 01,02, 07, 73,83 etc. where can I find this info? My supplier is Energy Australia, they seem reluctant to answer my request although very polite.
Hi Albert. It would depend on the type of metre that you have. This file about EnergyAustralia metre specifications might help, though.
My solar system has been installed, does anyone know where can I get Gross meter
Hi – very interesting article. You mention that the new gross meter needs to be installed inside the electricity box ALONGSIDE the old one.
From what i’ve read elsewhere, i thought the new gross meter REPLACES the existing meters?
I have a digital meter (5 years old) in my box marked “Energy Australia Import/Export”. I assume this would be removed, and the new gross meter would replace it?
Last question – can the new meters be picked up – ie are they available yet from Energy Australia?
For your information.
I was informed by Energy Australia in writing on March 6th, they will pay an extra 6 cents per kWh, a total of 66 cents. I am in New South Wales.
This is great info…..I am looking at a 1.5Kw system and have an over-crowded meter box, it currently has 4 existing meters,god only knows what they are all for. Anyway I have received a quote to get a 3 phase polymeter, smaller in footprint, to then make space for the Gross meter supplied by Integral. The cost was mind blowing $1320 which is nearly as much as the solar system. My question is can you get another meter box to house the solar Pv system electrics and Gross meter whilst still connecting to the main circuit in the original meter box? This should be cheaper surely..or am I totally off the mark?
I have a Quote from energy fix to change to gross metering from net metering of $418.oo. My solar system was installed 4/2009. my friend had the same system installed 11/2009, and received a letter from energy aust. advising no charge for his gross metering change over from energy aust.
Thanks for the info,
I have the long run to the inverter situation. Do you know how much we will be paid/kwHr for the net feeding – i.e. will we still get 60c/kwHr? The way the legislation is written, I think not.
Our understanding is that If you are in New South Wales you should expect to receive 60c/kWh for the energy you generate regardless of how much you consume. However, if you are with Country Energy or EnergyAustralia you should expect to receive 60c/kWh for the net amount of energy you generate until July 2010, which is when EnergyAustralia and Country Energy propose to switch over to gross metering.
how do I apply for a gross solar meter installation?
Contact your electricity provider. They’ll be able to help you!
I am living in Newington, Sydney where the Olympic Village is, all house here already install a 1 KW solar panel system when the village is built, so we have two meters in the house, it is using the old net in tariff at the rate of 1:1. I do not know who to upgrade to the new Gross in tariff System .
1. Remove the old meters and install the new meter
2. Install the new meter along with the two old meters, so I have three meters ?
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