Although New South Wales historically had the most generous Feed In Tariffs in Australia ($0.60c gross), those days are long behind us.
For the last few years however, solar customers have learned to live with a “Benchmark Range” for exported solar energy, which is annually recommended by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART). The draft recommendation for 2014/2015 has just been released and has suggested $0.05c kWh to $0.096 c kWh. Bear in mind that retailers are not mandated to offer anything–but if they do, it is recommended that they make offers in this range.
The way the New South Wales system works is that you receive “1:1” for solar energy you self-consume; e.g. if you are using 1kWh and buying it at $0.30c kWh and you generate 1kWh with solar, then you avoid paying the $0.30c. This makes solar really valuable if you match your generation to your consumption.
If you have excess solar energy then it is exported and you can negotiate with your electricity retailer for a rate which they voluntarily offer (typically within the Benchmark Range). E.G. if you are using 1kW at $0.30c kWh and generating 2kWh with solar, you will self-consume 1kWh saving $0.30c and export 1kWh earning (say) $0.096c kWh.
Disappointingly, this coming years rates’ are a slight reduction on last year’s rates which were $0.066 c kWh to $0.112 c kWh, however, the difference is pretty small so typical households are unlikely to notice any financial difference.
So does solar still make sense in New South Wales?
With average electricity prices at around $0.30c kWh, solar can still save you enormously on your power bill. The key is to choose quality products and to use an installer and designer who can analyse you usage patterns to help you calculate the financial outcomes.
Even better, as energy monitoring and load control equipment gets cheaper and cheaper, you can shift your loads to use that high value solar energy, but that’s another story…
© 2014 Solar Choice Pty Ltd
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