WA Solar Feed in Tariff Closed: What’s next?

Update 22 August 2011: WA’s solar feed-in tariff scheme is closed to new applicants as of  31 July 2011.

Currently, residential Synergy customers are eligible for a 7c/kWh Solar Buyback scheme, while Horizon customers may apply for a 1-for-1 Solar BuybackFor regularly-updated list of state-by-state Solar Feed-in Tariffs, please visit out Solar Power Feed-in Tariff page. With the cost of solar PV systems has reached all-time lows in globally and in Australia, and electricity prices are on the rise, now is a great time to go solar.

For further information for solar power system installer options in WA, contact a Solar Choice broker on 1300 78 72 73 for advice about incentives and a list of solar power quotes from installers in your area. You can also request a free comparison of solar quotes by filling out the form to the right of this page. 

Western Australia has suspended its popular Solar Feed-in Tariff scheme (currently 20c/kWh). The cut-off for applications was 8am 1 August. Applications postmarked or submitted before this time will be processed. Applications postmarked or submitted after this period will not be processed. Existing 40c and 20c customers will not be affected.

WA Solar Feed-in Tariff: From 44c to 20c to no government support

The Feed-in Tariff scheme pays residences and businesses that have solar power systems when they feed their excess electricity into the electrical grid. The WA Feed-in Tariff rate was initially set at about 44c/kWh (after proposals to set it at 60c did not eventuate), then dropped to 20c. The progression of events being seen in WA is eerily similar to the path followed by the NSW Solar Bonus Scheme, which was initially set at 60c, suddenly and unceremoniously dropped to 20c, then canceled all together.

Nigel Morris, Director of Solar Business Services, commented on the government’s decision not to replace the current scheme. “This is a huge blow. It’s bad news for industry and for electricity users.”

On a similar note, Clean Energy Council CEO Matthew Warren expressed shock and disappointment.

“The solar industry continues to seek policy certainty so that it is not at the mercy of knee-jerk reactions,” Mr Warren said.

“West Australians have invested in the solar industry both as consumers and in terms of new training, skills and jobs. The WA Government should not be turning back on this emerging industry.” He called on the WA government to consider reformulating the scheme to ensure long-term sustainability.

Since government financial support will be withdrawn from the scheme, all that will remain on the state level is the government’s Renewable Energy Buyback scheme, which mandates a set rate to be paid to solar energy exporters. These rates are 7c/kWh for Synergy customers and an amount “equal to their retail tariff rate” (a 1:1 net tariff) for Horizon customers.

Solar rebates also still exist on the federal level in the form of RECs (renewable energy certificates), now officially known as STCs (small-scale technology certificates), which provide a potentially up-front rebate on the cost of a solar power system.

Customers will also benefit from ownership of solar power systems by mitigating the amount of electricity they will require from the electricity grid, thereby reducing energy bills. WA Energy Minister Peter Collier commented that even without the rebates, households would pay off the costs of a solar panel system within 10 years through energy savings.

The Solar Energy industry is hopeful that the WA government will change its mind in the near future and recognise the benefits that distributed solar generation offers the electricity grid–especially in remote areas–by legislating a fair price for solar power.

© 2011 Solar Choice Pty Ltd

Sources and links:

The Western Australian, “Household Solar Scheme Axed”

9 News, “WA Solar Scheme to bar new entrants”

James Martin II

Contributor at Solar Choice
James was Solar Choice's primary writer & researcher between 2010 and 2018.

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.
James Martin II