Wednesday 27 October 2010 will long go down as solar chaos day in NSW. In the same breath as the results of the review of the solar bonus scheme were announced, Premier Keneally caused mayhem by introducing a Bill that gave customers a matter of hours – until midnight – to pay deposits to their selected installer or miss out on the generous 60c gross feed in tariff before it was stepped down to 20c.
This was hardly responsible governance, and a more balanced transition period would’ve been both commensurate to a mature approach to renewable energy policy and answerable to the expectations the Govt had nurtured in customers and the solar industry alike.
For Solar Choice it was all hands on deck. We promptly informed our database of over 8,000 NSW customers of the shock announcement. During the course of the day we received nearly 1,000 sign ups for online Quote Comparisons for a thorough range of installers’ products, prices and warranties. Our new geo-specific software furnished these informative and impartial Quote Comparisons to customers within 30 seconds according to postcode and region. Our team of 15 solar brokers worked on the phones until the early hours helping hundreds of customers review this cross section of the market, and proceed with our online system to generate a binding agreement and pay a deposit with the installer of their choice by midnight.
Thankfully the deadline didn’t impose a need to be connected to the grid with a gross meter by 12am, or to have lodged applications for a gross meter.
Despite protestations overnight from the Greens in the upper house, the Electricity Supply Amendment (Solar Bonus Scheme) Bill 2010 then passed into law. As of this morning, any customers who enter into a binding agreement for the purchase or lease of a solar energy installation will receive a gross tariff of 20c per kWh, meaning that an entry level 1.5kW system will generate approx $440 per year depending on your sunshine hours. It may also be that some electricity retailers will pay up to 30c on a gross basis for the privilege of your custom.
For the price competitive end of the market, such clean energy reward still allows a payback of approx 4.5 to 5yrs – by any standard a handsome return on investment, although one which will take some adjustment given current expectations. In the UK where our business went live recently, customers get excited over a 7yr payback. A share portfolio guaranteeing 20% return on investment would normally be considered an attractive proposition.
To sum up, to be eligible for the 60c gross tariff you:
- Needed to have entered into a binding agreement with your selected installer before midnight last night (12.00am, 28 October 2010);
- Should be able to justify – in a statutory declaration – the timing of this binding agreement if required by your electricity wholesaler (either Energy Australia, Country Energy or Integral);
- Ensure your gross meter grid connection forms are received by your relevant electricity wholesaler within 21 days of today (by 18 November 2010). It’s important to note that you don’t have to be approved for connection by this time.
Feel free to contact your Solar Choice broker if you’ve any questions.
Managing Director, Solar Choice Pty Ltd
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