The ACT’s net Solar Buyback scheme: Going solar after 30 June 2013

Now that ACT utility ActewAGL has closed its gross 1-for-1 Solar Buyback scheme to new applicants, many ACT residents may be asking themselves the question: Are solar panels still worth it in the ACT? Solar panels are indeed a good investment for the right ACT residents, but making the most of them requires first understanding how they can benefit a home or business. This article is an overview of ActewAGL’s new ‘net’ Solar Buyback scheme and how it affects those who are thinking about having a solar system installed.

ACT net metering for solar power: How does it work?

For ACT residents who install solar panels after 30 June 2013, ActewAGL offers a ‘net metering’ Solar Buyback arrangement. Under net metering, the solar power that is generated by a home or business’s solar panels is automatically used by building first–i.e. if you are using any electricity, the power from the solar panels will go there first. This saves the system owner money by reducing the amount of power that they must purchase from the ActewAGL.

The excess solar power (the power that not used then and there), is ‘exported’ to the electrical grid, and a set rate is paid for each unit by ActewAGL. At the end of each billing period, this amount is credited onto the customer’s electricity bill, reducing the overall amount that needs to be paid.

Use your solar power while it is being generated!

The rate that ActewAGL is now offering to pay for each unit (kilowatt-hour or kWh) is 7.5c. Anyone who scrutinises their power bill (as many have begun to do in recent years) would be aware that this 7.5c/kWh rate is less than the retail electricity tariff rate for both homes and businesses. This means that your solar power is worth more to you when you use it yourself.

To rephrase the above: solar panels only generate power when the sun shines, and unfortunately affordable energy storage is still some time away. This means in effect that your options for using your solar power are, as we’ve pointed out, to use it when it’s available, or sell it to the grid.

This effectively limits the market for solar panels to those homes and businesses that are occupied and using a significant amount of power during daylight hours. It also means making sure that any solar system that you have installed will produce only enough power to meet daytime energy needs, as any excess would be effectively ‘wasted’ when it is sold at the 7.5c/kWh rate–after all, using it yourself would save you more money.

What size solar system do I need…

Determining the right system size for your home or business means first looking at your power bill to see how much electricity you use on average on a daily basis. As a rule of thumb, a typical 3-person home will consume around 20kWh of electricity per day, although a portion of this may be in the late afternoon when the sun is going down and the solar panels are producing less power.

…and how much money can it save me?

Solar system prices have fallen dramatically across the world and around Australia in the past few years, and they have gained tremendous popularity here. Further still, since ActewAGL’s previous ‘1-for-1’ gross Solar Buyback scheme was closed to new applicants, solar system prices dropped dramatically in the ACT. Installing a solar system in the ACT remains a good investment, with payback periods of between 4-7 years and return on investment in the range of 11-20%.

Interested in learning more about going solar in the ACT? Contact Solar Choice

Solar Choice offers free advice and Solar Quote Comparisons to customers across Australia–including all parts of the ACT. Initiate a dialogue with one of our brokers today by filling out the form to the right of this page or call us on 1300 78 72 73 to speak to one of our brokers.

Further information

A complete FAQ about the ACT’s net Solar Buyback scheme is available on the ActewAGL website.

© 2013 Solar Choice Pty Ltd