Vic Labor to introduce legislation to prevent retailer discrimination against solar homes

Victoria’s Labor government has announced new legislation that will prevent electricity retailers from refusing discounts to households with rooftop solar arrays.

Victoria energy minister Lily D’Ambrosio announced the move on Thursday as part of a suite of changes to the state’s Electricity Industry Act, including attempts to protect consumers struggling to pay their electricity bills and facing disconnection.

D’Ambrosio said the amendments would “prohibit retailers from including eligibility criteria in their supply offers that restrict customers who have solar or other renewable energy generation from taking up an offer that would otherwise be available to them.

“That is, while energy retailers may still make electricity sale offers that are specific to solar and renewable energy customers, such customers must also be able to access the same offers as any other customer.

“This will ensure that current incentives for investment in solar and other renewable energy sources are not adversely impacted by energy retailers imposing higher charges for this customer group.”

The Victorian government and the Labor government in Queensland have both promised a review into the “fair price” of solar, in light of moves to cut the feed-in tariff for exports of solar power back to the grid.

In Victoria, it has been cut to 5c/kWh from 6.2c/kWh, and in NSW is has been cut to 4.8c/kWh from 5.6c/kWh, and the tariff is voluntary anyway. Similar cuts have occurred in other states.

The rate of the feed-in tariff is not the only issue however. Solar advocates are also upset at rising fixed charges which make it less attractive for households to install solar.

For instance, in Queensland, low energy users are being charged the equivalent of 72c/kWh for their electricity, and half of this cost is unavoidable fixed charges.

© 2015 Solar Choice Pty Ltd

Giles Parkinson