Australian Capital Territory households and small businesses have been given another chance to tap into the territory government’s ACT Solar Feed-in Tariff scheme. The ACT small-scale (‘micro-generator’) Feed-in Tariff scheme, for systems 30kW or smaller, closed at the beginning of June 2011 after it hit its 15-megawatt cap. However, small-scale systems will now be eligible for a 30.16c/kWh Feed-in Tariff (down from 45.7c under the former scheme), this time under the Territory’s medium-scale FiT scheme, which was formerly limited to systems between 30 and 200kW.
–UPDATE 24 August 2011: The ACT feed-in tariff scheme has concluded, but a 1:1 net feed-in tariff (where you are paid the retail electricity rate for electricity you feed into the grid) is still on offer for solar customers. For up-to-date info, please see our solar feed-in tariff rewards page.–
The change in the solar incentive scheme is an imperfect but ‘practical’ solution for the problem of how to support solar power and the solar industry through a rather tumultuous period. Although the ‘micro’ or small-scale ACT Feed-in Tariff has closed, the medium-scale scheme remains open for business. This scheme was originally intended for solar farms, commercial-scale solar projects, and solar communities, but the Greens and Liberals pulled together in the ACT Parliament to push changes through the Legislative Assembly that will allow small-scale (30kW or less), ‘residential’ systems in under the medium-scale mechanism.
“We chose to try and improve a broken scheme rather than just allowing the industry and taxpayers to suffer,” said Liberal Leader Zed Seselja.
Similarly, Greens MLA Shane Rattenbury said it was not an ideal situation but that the outcome was practical, ensuring a future for Canberra’s Solar industry. “The Greens are really pleased that this has passed. It does provide a transition for the solar industry in Canberra which has been growing and is supporting quite a few jobs,” he said. He also referred to the amendments to the scheme as a ‘practical solution’ to the ‘brick wall’ that the solar industry had hit once the small-scale ACT feed-in tariff scheme came to an end.
Concern still lingers, however, that the solution is only temporary, and will only delay the inevitable slow-down after the medium-scale scheme hits its 15-megawatt cap. Environment Minister Simon Corbell expressed concern that the changes will be ‘a disaster’ because larger-scale projects will effectively be blocked out of the scheme, whose cap will be eaten up by easier-to-install, smaller-scale solar systems.
“The medium-scale generator category will be swamped with applications from households and it means those larger-scale installations that are going onto large office buildings, onto factory roof tops won’t happen because they’re going to be swallowed up by the quicker to install, easier to install micro-generation,” he said.
The ACT also has a large-scale solar feed-in tariff category, which will most likely be allocated to commercial-scale solar-farm style installations.
Prior to the legislation changes, the feed-in tariff rate for the ˜medium’ category is 34.27c/kWh. The rate for the ˜large’ category is forthcoming, and will be posted here as soon as the information becomes available. For updates about the ACT feed-in tariff (as well as other states’ and national solar incentive policies) keep an eye on our blog or follow us on twitter by clicking below.
© 2011 Solar Choice Pty Ltd
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Previous related Solar Choice blog entries: ACT small-scale feed-in tariff hits 15MW cap
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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