Origin Energy is Australia’s largest electricity retailer, servicing around a quarter of the residential electricity market. Though you may not know that Origin Energy is a relatively young company – it was formed in the year 2000 when Boral demerged its energy business to create a standalone energy company.
Since then, Origin has gone on to great success, becoming a leading integrated energy company with over 4 million electricity, gas and LPG customer accounts across Australia.
Naturally, Origin offers a complete solar solution for residential customers including solar panel purchase and installation, inverters, batteries and plans. And of course solar feed-in tariffs, the focus of this article.
What are solar feed-in tariffs and why do they matter?
Solar feed-in tariffs are payments that a household with solar power receives for any excess clean energy that is produced but not used, and is fed back into the grid. They are also known as “buy backs” in the solar industry.
Back in the early days of solar power in Australia, feed-in tariffs were very generous, which helped offset the relatively high cost of purchasing a residential solar power system (around five times what you might pay today for a comparable system).
Many people chased high feed-in tariffs and installed solar power to take advantage of very generous feed-in tariffs to pay back the cost of their solar PV system. Reducing their reliance on grid electricity, and reducing their carbon footprint, seemed less important in the face of such largesse!
While things have settled since then, including the reduced cost of solar panel purchase and increased power generation capacity, feed-in tariffs can still help offset the cost of electricity purchase required to supplement your solar power, or help offset the cost of solar system purchase and installation.
These days, residential customers are focused on generating their own electricity with solar to avoid grid purchase where possible, to save money, and to do their bit for the environment. Feed-in tariffs can be considered a bonus once you have achieved these goals.
We’ve compared the market for solar feed-in tariffs in NSW and the rest of Australia.
What are the solar feed-in tariffs offered by Origin Energy?
Let’s take a closer look at what Origin offers residential customers in terms of solar feed-in tariffs or energy buy back rates. Firstly, Origin has a range of solar-specific electricity products and deals that are designed to help their customers get the most from their investment in solar panels.
While most Origin electricity plans include a feed-in tariff, we’ve focused on the plans that are specifically designed for solar customers, and that offer Origin’s highest rates for exporting energy to the grid. As well as a range of plans, Origin solar feed-in tariffs differ by state, so we’ve presented them in a table below for easy comparison.
Note that feed-in tariffs can also differ depending on the size of the solar system you have installed. When comparing feed-in tariffs, be sure to check if rates are based on system size.
Here are the relevant solar-specific electricity plans offered by Origin Energy:
Origin Solar Boost
The Solar Boost plan offers one of Origin Energy’s highest solar feed-in tariffs. Importantly, Solar boost is available to all customers with solar panels, no matter if the solar system was purchased from and installed by Origin.
According to Origin, this plan is ideal for customers who aren’t home much throughout the day and tend to use electricity in the mornings and evenings. In this case, most of the solar power they generate is exported to the grid.
Like most feed-in tariffs, the top rate under this plan is capped (in this case to the first 14kWh per day), after which a smaller rate applies.
Origin Solar Boost Plus
Solar Boost Plus offers a larger feed-in tariff than the Solar Boost plan, but it comes with a catch. In order to take advantage of the higher feed-in tariff (one of the highest in the market), customers must have purchased and installed an eligible Origin Energy solar system.
When considering this plan, you need to weigh up a range of variables beyond comparing feed-in tariffs. Consider the panel purchase and installation costs, as well as feed-in tariffs, to understand the potential longer-term benefits and savings given these higher feed-in tariffs.
Origin Solar Lite
This plan is offered in limited states (NSW, QLD and SA) and features a smaller feed-in tariff in exchange for lower fixed base rates. Worth considering if you don’t export much electricity to the grid.
ORIGIN ENERGY SOLAR PLANS & FEED-IN TARIFFS
(Capped at 14kWh / day)
|Solar Boost Plus
(Origin must install your solar)
(NSW, QLD & SA Only)
|New South Wales||10c/kWh||12c/kWh||2-3c/kWH|
*Rates sourced from Origin’s website and aggregated into this table
Given that electricity plans and feed-in tariffs offered by all retailers, including Origin Energy, can change frequently, it is advisable that when you are considering purchasing solar for your home, or switching electricity provider, you check for updated plans, tariffs and solar feed-in tariffs.
What else should you consider beyond solar feed-in tariffs?
Unlike the heady early days of the solar industry in Australia, purchasing solar for your home would not be done on the basis of feed-in tariffs alone. These days, the first thing to consider is the right solar system to reduce or remove your reliance on grid electricity.
Fluctuating electricity prices may have a greater impact on your household budget than any money you can get for exporting excess power to the grid.
And as battery technology is improving, and costs are coming down, it may be prudent to produce electricity and store it for later use (when the sun isn’t shining) rather than worrying about how much you can get for selling electricity back to the grid. Any energy stored means less grid electricity you need to purchase (which is always more expensive than the amount you get for exporting power back to the grid).
You may also consider other factors such as how green your electricity provider is, or if they have local customer service and support teams.
So, are Origin Energy’s feed in tariffs worth it?
Feed-in tariffs remain an important part of electricity plans as marketed by Origin Energy and other retailers. With a range of factors making up the average cost of using and exporting solar power (not least of which is the large purchase and installation cost), it is important to do your homework and make sure you are comparing apples with apples.
Consider the amount of electricity your solar system can potentially generate each day, how much you use and therefore how much is available to export back to the grid. How much excess capacity do you want to purchase compared to estimated usage, and how much does this impact the system payback period?
Origin Energy offers a range of different plans and feed-in tariffs whether you purchase your solar system from them or BYO, so they are worth considering when it is time to purchase a system or if you are changing energy providers to take advantage of higher solar feed-in tariffs.