Some of the information below may be out of date. For the most up-to-date information on the state of South Australia Solar Feed-in Tariff incentives, see the South Australia Solar Feed-in Tariff page, or read about Commercial Solar Power in SA.
The South Australia state parliament has made a number of changes to its solar power feed-in tariff scheme. Among the amendments to the SA Electricity Act 1996, is the decision to terminate the SA feed-in tariff program on 1 October 2011.
Other changes to the feed-in tariff legislation, passed in the South Australia Electricity (Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill 2011 include:
1. The cut-off date for the current feed-in scheme is 1st October 2011. Approved applications for permission to connect must be lodged by midnight 30 September, 2011.
2. Although an amendment to increase the feed-in tariff rate of $0.44 per kWh to $0.54 per kWh for existing customers was initially proposed, this part of the bill was not passed. Unfortunately, there will be no 54c/kWh feed-in tariff for existing or new members of the scheme.
3. Solar power producers will only be credited for the first 45 kWh of electricity per day fed into the grid. There is also a limitation of one generator (solar power system) per person, but it does not matter whether the system is on a residence or a business.
4. Restrictions to the eligible size of a solar system–10 kilowatts for a single-phase system.* Eligibility is limited to one system/generator per customer.
5. Exclusion of systems which are believed to be ‘for profit’ (hence the 45kWh/day limit, and the limitation of one generator per person.)
However, if you sell your house or buy a new house, the feed-in tariff contract will be transfered with your meter/home to the new owner (provided you do not take the system down). This means added value to your home should you decide to sell it. Likewise, if you buy a house that has a system feeding into the grid on the 44c tariff, you will reap the benefits of the previous owner’s contract when you move in. Remember that the scheme is valid until 2028.
7. Although it is possible, ‘upgrading’ your solar power system involves a bit of administrative sleight of hand if you are applying for the pre-30 September 2011 deadline and you want to keep the 44c/kWh feed-in tariff. When you lodge your application, future (i.e. post-30 September) expansions will be limited by the nominal rated system capacity under which you lodge your original application. This means, for example, that if you apply for a system with a rated capacity of 5kW initially, but have only 3kW worth of panels, then if you intend to expand the size of your system in the future, you cannot increase the panel capacity beyond 5kW.
Expanding the system beyond this original nominal capacity will be considered a system ‘upgrade’ and will make you ineligible for the 44c/kWh feed-in tariff. (Please note that applications for larger systems may take longer to be approved, so it is not advisable to fill out your application for a system over 5kW ‘just in case’.)
–Update 23 August, 2011–
The SA Government has put up an extremely informative and detailed web page explaining eligibility requirements for and frequently asked questions about the 44c/kWh feed-in tariff. A must-see for potential solar customers in South Australia!
–Update: 16 August, 2011–
Please note that, according to ETSA, if you wish to take advantage of the 44c/kWh feed-in tariff scheme, you must have approval to connect to the grid from ETSA by the 30 September deadline. Pre-approval is usually granted at the time of application.
Current turnaround times for applications are:
-48 hours+ for systems 4kW or below (possibly longer as the deadline approaches and queues for approval get longer).
-Longer periods for systems 4kW or above, especially in regional areas of the state. If a larger system is not approved immediately, the applicant may potentially still be eligible for approval to install a smaller system–although this is not guaranteed.
ETSA does not guarantee the 44c solar feed-in tariff for those who do not make the deadline. A feed-in tariff of approximately 22c/kWh is expected to be offered through the transitional scheme that replaces the current scheme. Get in now to avoid disappointment!
You will also find a wealth of information about the details of the SA solar feed-in tariff in the comments section below. Thanks to everyone who left a comment and cheers to ETSA and the SA Energy Advisory Service for the answers.
Solar Choice will provide more information in our blog as it becomes available. For updates as soon as they come up, click the link below to follow us on Twitter.
Written by Lydia Robertson and James Martin
© 2011 Solar Choice Pty Ltd
Sources and links:
Related Solar Choice article: Changes to South Australia Solar Feed-in Tariff regulations passed through state Parliament
Renewables SA, “Investor information: Solar feed-in scheme”
A clarification on ETSA the criteria for defining nominal system capacity: This question was a minor problem previously, as there was no standard practice for determining whether solar system capacity was based on solar panel array peak output or peak inverter output (which effectively limits solar panel array output). Please note that ETSA defines nominal capacity by peak solar PV array output.
He is now the communications manager for energy technology startup SwitchDin, but remains an occasional contributor to the Solar Choice blog.
James lives in Newcastle in a house with a weird solar system.
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