Queensland regional utility Ergon Energy has imposed a 3.5kW threshold on rooftop solar systems, making it more difficult and potentially more costly for households and businesses to install rooftop solar.
The new limit – down from 5kW previously – is the level at which Ergon will demand a “network assessment”, and it could include limits on how much, if any, solar can be exported back into the grid.
The limit applies to grid-linked inverter systems and is expressed in kVa – which roughly translates into the size of the solar system in kilowatts.
The restrictions in remote areas will be even more severe. Technical assessments will be required for any inverter system above 2kVa on so-called SWER networks – the single line networks that operate in remote areas – and any system above zero kVa in isolated grids.
[NB: Ergon has stated that the majority of systems which undergo assessment will be approved. For those which are not approved, Ergon will recommend design modifications.]
The solar industry says the decision means that it will become more costly to install solar on households, and comes after a change in tariffs that hikes fixed rates, lowers volume charges, and makes it less attractive to install solar in Queensland.
Businesses will also be affected, with any solar 3-phase inverter above 10kVa on the main network requiring an assessment. The assessments do not apply if the system does not intend to export to the grid.
Ergon says the new thresholds are forecast to “quadruple” the current volume of assessments. It says it will allocate more assessors, but there could be delays in July and August.
The utility has also flagged in the past that assessment fees would be introduced as part of the move to the new regulatory period.
© 2015 Solar Choice Pty Ltd