AEMC to introduce new, streamlined processes for connecting solar to the grid

Australia’s national energy regulator has given the nod to electricity market reforms that will make it cheaper, easier and faster for households and business to invest in and install clean and renewable energy systems such as rooftop solar PV.

The reforms will be introduced to the NEM in October, after being adopted last week by the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) following a consumer-led campaign headed up by ClimateWorks Australia, the Property Council of Australia and Seed Advisor.

The new rules – which will apply to all sizes of embedded energy systems in Victoria and Queensland, and systems over 5MW in NSW, South Australia and Tasmania – aim to  provide a clearer, more transparent connection process with defined time frames, and will require distributors to publish information to assist customers.

More specifically, they will ensure the provision of standardised application forms; greater access to information on the connection process, possible costs and technical requirements; a connection process that is clear and consistently applied; and clarity on costs and exempting embedded generators from contributing to the cost of shared network augmentation.

Property Council CEO Peter Verwer has hailed the AEMC’s decision as a win for the property sector and for energy consumers, arguing the reforms could unleash pent-up clean energy investment.

Until now, Verwer said in a statement on Tuesday, businesses looking to install solar and other cleaner energy systems faced “deal breaking connection times” of up to three years, as well as enormous up-front costs.

“Worse still,” he added, “smaller businesses, local councils and community groups have found it virtually impossible to overcome connection barriers, which are wasted opportunities for clean energy.”

“The Property Council envisages green grids of buildings, neighbourhoods and city precincts that power themselves renewably,” Verwer said. “Green grids can complement centralised power stations, and will also evolve into localised, self-sufficient clean energy power stations.”

© 2014 Solar Choice Pty Ltd