South Australia has come a step closer to determining the rate at which homes and businesses that have installed a rooftop solar system will be reimbursed for the excess solar energy that they send into the electrical grid. Until 30 September 2013, those who installed an eligible solar photovoltaic (PV) system in the state were able to enter into a contract with their electricity retailer to receive a premium feed-in tariff rate, but the scheme has since closed to new applicants. The suggested rate–7.6c per kilowatt-hour (kWh)–is unlikely to change much in the final determination.
Although Solar Choice (and doubtless many others) had anticipated that SA–progressive and even-handed in its renewable energy support programs in comparison to many other Australian states–would have continued increasing the ‘mandatory retailer contribution’ component of the feed-in tariff that continued on after the transitional feed-in tariff (16c/kWh), the state’s Essential Services Commission (ESCOSA) has instead proposed a nominal amount of 7.6c/kWh. This amount, lower than the 9.9c/kWh originally planned for 2013-2014, is meant to represent the ‘actual value’ of exported solar electricity to retailers, and the ‘fair and reasonable’ value for system owners.
ESCOSA’S determination is roughly in line with that on offer elsewhere in the country, such as through WA‘s Synergy (8.4c/kWh) and the one set by the Victorian government (8c/kWh). Although SA’s rate certainly does not encourage export of solar power to the grid (homes and businesses save more money by using the solar power as much as possible), a consolation for those who go solar in the state is the fact that that the rate has a floor. ESCOSA expects that competition between electricity retailers for solar customers will mean that certain retailers may offer higher rates–leaving the onus on solar customers to shop around in order to get the best deal. (The government’s Energy Made Easy website was created to make shopping around easier.)
As we’ve written previously, solar panels are still worth the investment for the right homes and businesses in SA, provided they are able to use a portion of their electricity during daylight hours, when the sun is shining. Another alternative would be if the home or business in question can afford to install an energy storage system, which would allow them to capture the electricity that their solar panels produce and use it later in the day.
© 2013 Solar Choice Pty Ltd
He is now the communications manager for energy technology startup SwitchDin, but remains an occasional contributor to the Solar Choice blog.
James lives in Newcastle in a house with a weird solar system.
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