After months of waiting, the fate of Tasmania’s solar feed-in tariff as finally been decided. Premier Lara Giddings’ office has announced that Tasmanians who have applied for the scheme before the 30 August 2013 deadline (including those who are already enrolled) will continue to receive the current generous rate for 5 years–until 1 January 2019. Those who have applied but have not yet installed a system will have a full year to do so–i.e. by 30 August 2014.
Why should Tasmanians apply for Aurora’s current 1-for-1 feed-in tariff?
If you are thinking about going solar in Tasmania, now is a great time to act. Those who apply by 30 August will receive the current ‘1-for-1’ feed-in tariff rate for 5 years. Under this arrangement, households will receive credits on their power bills for each unit (kilowatt-hour or kWh) of solar energy that they do not consume themselves—at a rate equivalent to what they pay for electricity that they purchase from the grid.
So if you currently pay (for example) 28c/kWh for electricity, you will be credited 28c for each unit of solar power that you ‘export’ to the grid. System owners will also benefit from mitigating the need to purchase power from the grid in the first place by using electricity when the sun is shining and their panels are generating power. Under this arrangement and at current solar PV system installation prices, a system installed in Tasmania will pay itself off in as little 4-5 years–but will continue producing ‘free’ electricity for 25+.
How to secure your access to the Tasmanian feed-in tariff
To ensure that you are eligible for the 1-for-1 rate, by 30 August 2013 you must:
1) Apply for grid connection through Aurora,
2) Order a solar system & pay a deposit on it, and
3) Have their system installed by 30 August 2014.
You can apply for grid connection on the Aurora Energy website, but in order to do so you will need a copy of the receipt from your deposit payment, and a copy of the signed contract with your solar energy system installer.
Looking for an installer? Request a comparison of solar quotes for your area of Tasmania by filling out the form to the right of this page. Alternatively, you can call Solar Choice directly on 1300 78 72 73 to learn about your options.
Zero-down solar leasing options may also be available to eligible customers.
The fight for a fair fix for Tassie’s feed-in tariff
The fate of Aurora’s feed-in tariff scheme has been up in the air for several months now. The issue came up in April in the midst of discussion about the future of Aurora Energy as it undergoes its planned deregulation. By about a month later, it became clear that the 1-for-1 rate would remain in place for at least 3 years, but renewable energy advocacy groups such as Save Our Solar Tasmania were actively pushing for a longer commitment from the utility (and all its future, deregulated forms), in part to ensure that the investments of those who had opted to install a system under the arrangement (which had no formal deadline) were protected.
The 5-year solution, whilst perhaps shorter than many involved would have preferred, is likely to nevertheless be received as a reasonable compromise, as it serves the purpose of protecting the assets of those who have already installed a system. It also gives a window of opportunity to those who had been considering it but not yet acted.
As with all Australian solar feed-in tariff deadlines to date, the government’s announcement, which allows almost 2 weeks for customers to get their applications in, has already prompted a flurry of activity in Tasmania’s solar sector reminiscent of the announcement of the reduction of Queensland’s feed-in tariff. At Solar Choice, the number of Tasmanian customers jumped dramatically on the day of the announcement–with almost as many Tasmanian enquiries in a single day as in the past 3 weeks.
What’s next for Tasmanian solar?
In the press release about the scheme closure, the premier’s office also mentioned that a transitional rate of 8c/kWh will be available to those who install a solar system between 31 August and the new year. A new rate (yet to be determined) will come into effect from 1 January 2014, and if the experience of other states is anything to go by, is likely to continue to be in the range of 8-10c/kWh, if any minimum is mandated at all. This is not to say that solar PV will not be worth the investment at that point, however, as system prices have come down significantly in recent years, making them investment-worthy even in states with no feed-in tariff incentives in place. For example, installations continue to grow in NSW, Western Australia, and Queensland despite a conspicuous lack of state government support.
© 2013 Solar Choice Pty Ltd