The 350,000 solar households in NSW could soon be paid twice as much for the power they export to the grid, thanks largely to increasing electricity prices in the wholesale market. A higher feed-in tariff range, of 11.6 to 14.6 cent per kilowatt hour, was outlined in a draft proposal from the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal.
This is for excess electricity that your household solar system produces. Those people smart enough to install them when they were heavily subsidized and put in excess capacity are in for a windfall. Not only do they get free electricity, they also get and income.
How it works
Solar feed-in tariffs are voluntary amounts paid by a retailer to a solar system owner, for the energy they export back into the grid.
“People with solar are like mini-power stations selling power to the grid. The fact is the underlying electricity they export is now worth twice as much,” said IPART chief executive Hugo Harmstorf. “We are aiming to give solar customers information so that when they talk to retailers they are better informed to negotiate deals.”
Retailers in NSW all offer feed-in tariffs above the current benchmark range. AGL (6.1 cents), Energy Australia (6.1 cents) and Origin Energy (6 cents and 10 cents) all offer similar tariffs, while smaller retailers, like the recently launched Energy Locals, already offer 10 cents.
“For us … every unit of solar someone exports is one unit less we need to buy from the wholesale market. If the wholesale market has risen, its only fair feed-in tariffs are at the same level,” said Energy Locals chief executive Adrian Merrick.
On Monday the government welcomed the announcement, noting it reflected in part the closure of Victoria’s Hazelwood brown coal-fired power station in March. News of the planned closure of the aging and high greenhouse-gas emitting plant helped push up wholesale electricity prices sharply in the past year.
Not only does solar bring energy independence, it is also a way to become and energy generator as a business investment.