Should solar homes pay for grid upgrades? VIC networks ask customers

CitiPower and PowerCor have received a mixed response to an attempt by the Victorian network operators to engage with customers on the topic of rooftop solar.

In a Facebook post earlier this week, the poles and wires companies asked for customer thoughts on solar PV systems and the grid – and in particular, who should foot the bill for investment to ensure quality of power supply doesn’t decline.

Question: “Should investment in power quality be paid for by a) All customers or b) Customers with solar panels who export.”
It’s an interesting line of inquiry, particularly as CitiPower and Powercor combined have only around 10 per cent rooftop solar penetration on their inner Melbourne and regional Victorian networks – well below the national average.

And it seemed to strike a nerve with customers. The response to the poll – which has so far racked up 200 votes – will not be revealed until it closes in five days. But the comments posted below the online forum were almost unanimous in their sentiment.

“None of the above!! It’s an investment!!” said one comment.

“Any investment should be covered by the power companies as they are getting all this power for virtually free and selling it for 30c/kWh,” said another.

And it goes on:

“Neither. It isn’t as though the power is delivered to customers for free. We not only pay for the power we use, there is also a hefty service charge, a portion of which is paid back to the distributor.

“Suggesting that customers should pay for infrastructure is like saying that as well as paying for the fuel I put in my car, I need to pay for upkeep and replacement of the trucks that delivered it. I don’t think so.”
And: “Are you serious Powercor!? We have paid over and over for your infrastructure, it’s part of your expense, it’s the solar panel owners who are supplementing your grid thus avoiding upgrades we are told. Paid a pittance for the power generated compared the gaming that goes on by the big generators.”

“I don’t understand the question. Investment in the quality of power private companies generate from solar power farms they export from Australia? Surely no customer should pay it, it should be paid for by the investors in those companies shouldn’t it?”

And finally: “If you start charging me more, SIMPLE I will just disconnect and install batteries.”

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