South Australian households have complained about diminishing returns on solar energy they contribute to the grid, with the electricity regulator saying it has “no value” to the market.
Most important points:
- Some energy companies offer less than 4c/kW for energy fed back into the grid
- SA minimum feed-in rate ended in 2017
- Some consumers are exploring the possibility of investing in a solar battery system to save money
The incentive to move to renewable energy sources started in 2008 in SA.
The first households to install solar panels were rewarded with a feed-in tariff of 44 cents per kilowatt, which reduced the quarterly bill significantly.
Over the years, more households have installed solar panels and the feed-in tariff has become lower and lower.
Most energy suppliers in the state offer rates between 5 and 10 cents. But some companies offer less than 4 cents, which leads to frustration with customers.
What makes the rate low?
The state’s Essential Service Commission (ESCOSA) had previously set a minimum feed-in rate until 2017, after which energy companies could set their own rates.
ESCOSA chief executive Adam Wilson said having a regulated rate kept people from getting the best deal.
“The actual value of the energy sent in is significantly less than the price you would see for a usage fee,” said Mr. Wilson.
“If the rate of the day was 35c/kW, the value of the feed-in rate could be 6 cents.
“At the time, the demand for energy sent in was higher because the national market had not yet moved very far towards renewable energy sources.
“The market has been moving ever since and there is much greater capacity for renewables and so the value of the solar on people’s roofs has gone down.
Incentive to go off grid
Stelios Keliouris works in his family’s chicken shop in Port Augusta and bought a 20 panel house with a 7 kW system last September.
He is with AGL and originally had a feed-in rate of 12 cents, but that has now been reduced to 10 cents.
“I was originally given 7 cents so I called them up and they changed me to another plan, which saves solar energy,” said Mr Keliouris.
“I’m paying more for the electric bill now, but I’m getting more pennies for the solar, so it’s getting even, but either way, I’m not really happy with the amount of savings I’m getting.
“I may be looking to invest in a solar battery — I think you’ll save a lot of money there.”
Lilli Bird lives in Port Pirie and has had a 25 kW system for over eight years.
Its original feed-in rate was 16c/kW and was then reduced to 8 cents after the scheme ended.
In recent months, her rate dropped to 4 cents and Ms. Bird said she had not been notified of the change.
“Unfortunately, I’m not familiar with electricity jargon and just don’t know how to make a deal,” Ms Bird said.
Ms. Bird is also thinking about investing in a solar battery and taking herself off the grid.
Stuart Geoff Brock member is urging solar customers to look for a better deal.
“I’m disappointed that the companies don’t pay for electricity that someone else generates for them for free,” Brock said.
“I think it’s un-Australian.
“Governments should control the commodities sector, but I’m sure the Whyalla hydrogen plant will stabilize prices,” he said.
#feedin #rates #solar #energy #frustrate #households