WA’s energy minister to roll back anti-battery regulations “within the month”

An energy market regulation that effectively bans homes in Western Australia with battery storage from feeding power back into the grid will be removed within a month, the state’s energy minister Mike Nahan has said, paving the way for more widespread uptake of the technology.

The ban – imposed by state-owned utilities Western Power and Synergy – was first highlighted by RenewEconomy last month. Since then, it has become a major political issue, leading Mike Nahan to describe it as “red tape gone mad” during a debate in parliament.

Nahan has predicted the state’s homes and businesses will continue to take up rooftop solar will, with the market growing at 30 per cent a year. Battery storage will also be popular, although he says its prices are not yet competitive.

Nahan told the ABC this week that the state-owned utility retailer Synergy will offer home battery storage systems when they become affordable, most likely in the middle of 2016, and will seek to match the offering of its privately owned rival Alinta Energy.

“Batteries still are, for most households, not commercial,” Nahan said. “They are coming down in price  but I understand they are experimental.

“[For] certain households and businesses, depending on the consumption, it makes sense – but for the vast majority it does not yet. Synergy and other [companies] … are preparing to get into the market, get an investment, understand it and when batteries come down, they’ll be ready to go.”

The ABC said Synergy will likely be ready to offer the systems to households by the middle of next year, following the launch of a package of solar PV products and energy management solutions for homes and businesses, set to be announced in early 2016.

Dr Nahan said the Government was also set to remove a regulation which prohibits batteries from feeding energy back into the grid, in a move expected to flatten the peaks and troughs of solar power.

“The limit has been the regulator, the ERA,” he said. “I’ve discussed with ERA, Western Power and Synergy [the need to] to eliminate any barrier to having … electrons from batteries coming onto the grid, and I expect that to change within the month.”

© 2015 Solar Choice Pty Ltd

Giles Parkinson