7 July 2022: Household Solar Slashing Queensland’s Staggering Electricity Prices
Queensland’s 870,000 solar homes and businesses effectively provided up to $60 million worth of free electricity to the grid in May and helped drive down inflated wholesale electricity prices, according to a new report by the Queensland Conservation Council and Solar Citizens.
The analysis found that wholesale electricity prices would likely have been 9 per cent higher in May if it wasn’t for solar generators decreasing grid demand and reducing the need for more expensive fossil fuel generators.
“Right now we’re seeing sky-high wholesale electricity prices driven by high fossil fuel costs and relentless breakdowns at coal and gas generators,” said Clare Silcock, Energy Strategist at Queensland Conservation Council.
“Queensland now has Australia’s highest wholesale electricity prices because we rely the most on fossil fuel generators and have the lowest renewable energy uptake in the National Electricity Market.
“Queensland only gets about 20 per cent of our electricity from affordable renewable sources and that’s got to drastically shift if the Sunshine State is going to get on top of high electricity prices.”
Ironically, Queensland also has the highest uptake of rooftop solar PV in the country, and likely the world.
The report found that these households are effectively providing around $60 million worth of free energy to the grid in just one month because retailers currently pay much less to small-scale solar providers than they would otherwise have to pay to buy electricity at wholesale prices.
“Queenslanders have turned to solar in droves to slash their electricity bills and in the process they’re driving down the wholesale prices for everyone. Unfortunately, that community action is not enough to overcome years of government inaction to plan for the transformation of our energy system,” said Stephanie Gray, Deputy Director of Solar Citizens.
“There are immediate things that the Queensland Government can do to help bring down prices for vulnerable households, including rolling out more battery storage to maximise the benefits of cheap renewable energy for everyone, while helping renters and social housing tenants access rooftop solar.
“There are still many households that are locked out of the rooftop revolution and it sits with state governments to change that.”
Paul Murdoch lives in Kangaroo Point and doesn’t pay electricity bills after installing a 13 kW solar system and a 10 kWh battery. Before getting a solar and storage system his electricity bill was close to $2,000 per year.
“We’ve been getting a $300 credit per quarter on average for the extra electricity we generate and feed into the grid. We’ve also got an electric vehicle and by charging that at home we’re saving between $2,000-$3,000 a year on fuel,” said Mr Murdoch.
Paul isn’t worried about rising electricity costs for himself, but he does think more needs to be done to help more households access rooftop solar, including renters and people living in apartments.
“We used to have a holiday apartment and for the four years we owned it I tried to get solar installed in both the complex as a whole and for our apartment. It was a whole lot of trouble where I was very actively dealing with the strata for about two years and managed to have the complex’s strata by-laws changed and yet still couldn't get the approval,” he said.
“It's important people are not left behind. Those who are well off, like us, can afford solar. We need to make sure that the change to renewable energy does not worsen inequality where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, especially with the current energy crisis. Tenants in rental properties especially run this risk.”
Clare Silcock 0481055531
Stephanie Gray 0425543006
See the full report here.
1st July 2022: Australian consumers missing out on supply of affordable EVs
Clean transport advocates Solar Citizens have welcomed today's stronger tax cuts for electric vehicles from the federal government, but warn that without mandatory fuel efficiency standards there won’t be enough affordable EVs available for Australian consumers.
“During this cost of living crisis, more Australians are looking for ways to slash their rising household bills and demand for EVs has never been higher,”  said Ajaya Haikerwal, Clean Transport Campaigner at Solar Citizens.
“But there’s only a limited number of affordable EVs available to Australian consumers - we have a supply issue, and without fuel efficiency standards car-makers will continue to sell their affordable EVs elsewhere.”
“Most G20 countries already have fuel efficiency standards in place, and manufacturers are incentivised to produce EVs and penalised when they do not. Australia has no such mechanism, and is already a dumping ground for the world’s unwanted, polluting cars.”
“Aussies are missing out on cost-saving opportunities of EVs that have been available overseas for years because of a lack of federal government policy protecting consumer interests.”
“Right now Australia is facing a triple whammy: a cost of living crisis and an energy crisis. And on top of that, we need to address the climate crisis.”
“It’s a unique moment for our new federal government to address all three, by implementing fuel efficiency standards to increase the affordability of EVs, which in turn will reduce our rapidly rising transport sector emissions.”
“The new Labor government wants EVs to make up 89 percent of new car sales by 2030, but without strong fuel efficiency standards in place, this is a pipe dream.”
“A car is our second biggest purchase after a home, and we want that investment to be a wise one. Running a car is a major weekly expense.”
“Australia already has the highest uptake of rooftop solar internationally, so if we charge personal EVs with daytime solar energy, the cost of running a vehicle can be as low as 60c per 100km.”
Media contact: Ajaya Haikerwal 0400 723 324
20 June 2022: Payments to Unreliable Coal and Gas Slammed
Community group Solar Citizens has today slammed plans by the Energy Security Board to implement a capacity market that would include payments to ageing coal and gas power stations.
“Australian homes and businesses are already paying the price for our reliance on expensive and unreliable fossil fuel generators. The current energy crisis is the result of sky-high coal and gas prices, breakdowns at multiple coal units, and price gouging from big energy corporations,” said Stephanie Gray, Deputy Director at Solar Citizens.
“We’re in this mess because, after a decade of national energy policy failure, we haven’t built enough renewable energy backed by storage to replace ageing fossil fuel generation. Paying big coal and gas companies to keep them operating for longer is the opposite of what we need to do to address the energy crisis.
“Paying coal and gas to be available will simply add another price burden to consumers at a time when the cost of living is already hurting many homes and businesses.
“We’re calling on state and territory Energy Ministers to rule out a capacity mechanism that will fund coal and gas. Instead, they should be urgently rolling out renewable energy and battery storage so that Australian homes and businesses are less exposed to inflated global coal and gas prices.
“State Governments should also increase support for vulnerable households to access solar and storage, particularly those who face barriers to getting solar, including renters and social housing tenants.
“The new Federal Government has been handballed an energy system in disarray. It’s now up to them to clean up the mess of the previous government by planning coal closures and accelerating the rollout of renewable energy and storage.
“We recommend the Albanese Government implements a storage target, similar to the successful national Renewable Energy Target, which has now effectively come to an end.”
Media contact: Stephanie Gray 0425543006
15 June 2022: Solar Citizens Responds to Sun Tax Scare
There is no indication that the Queensland Government is considering implementing the sun tax, says community group Solar Citizens.
“When the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) first floated the sun tax, the Queensland Government was one of the first state governments to stand strong for solar households,” said Stephanie Gray, Deputy Director at Solar Citizens.
“Last year the AEMC changed our energy market rules to allow network companies to charge solar owners for feeding energy into the grid at certain times of the day. But there has been no proposal put forward by Queensland state-owned network providers to charge households.
“We applaud the Queensland Government's ongoing support for solar owners and encourage them to take this opportunity to rule out implementing a sun tax in Queensland in the future.
“Queenslanders are quite clean energy achievers and we lead the world in rooftop solar uptake. There are now close to 870,000 Queensland homes and businesses with solar.
“Sky-high coal and gas prices alongside rolling breakdowns at fossil fuel power stations are causing Australia’s energy crisis. The only price relief right now is coming from rooftop solar.
“We encourage the Queensland Government to implement programs to help renters and people living in social housing access cheap solar energy so that everyone can save on their power bills.”
Media contact: Stephanie Gray 0425543006
9 June 2022: Rio Tinto’s Renewables Shift Signals Need for More Grid Support
Solar Citizens today welcomes Rio Tinto’s calls for 4000 MW of renewable energy to be developed in Queensland to power its local smelter and refineries. However, the community groups says Queensland needs more grid infrastructure to support the scale of clean energy development anticipated in Central and Northern Queensland.
“Today’s announcement by Rio Tinto demonstrates the scale and speed of change that’s underway in our energy system. Large energy users and businesses are turning to renewable energy in droves to cut their power bills and remain globally competitive,” said Stephanie Gray, Deputy Director of Solar Citizens.
“Unfortunately, in Central and Northern Queensland there’s currently a cap on how much clean energy can be developed locally because there’s a dire need to upgrade grid infrastructure.
“In both Central and North Queensland there are significant proposals on the table to develop renewable hydrogen facilities that will require many more solar and wind projects to connect locally.
“Queensland was overlooked by the last Australian Government and we didn’t get grid infrastructure and clean energy funding like other states. That’s got to change under the new Labor Government.
“The new Albanese Government has pledged $20 billion to help finance additional grid infrastructure. We’re calling on them to work with the Queensland Government to fast-track the development of grid upgrades around Gladstone while ensuring appropriate community consultation.
“These vital grid upgrades will allow for more local solar, wind and storage to connect to the grid to affordability power new and existing manufacturing proposals in Central and North Queensland.”
Media contact: Stephanie Gray 0425543006
31 May 2022: Regional Queensland Power Bills to Rise as Fossil Fuel Prices Bite
Residential power prices in regional Queensland will rise on average by 9.2 per cent from July 1st following the Queensland Competition Authority’s release of regulated electricity prices. Small businesses will face a 10.2 per cent increase while large energy consumers will face a staggering 15.7 - 21.2 per cent hike.
“The hike in household power bills is the result of skyrocketing coal and gas prices driving up the wholesale price of electricity. This increase has been the most pronounced in coal-dependent states like Queensland where retailers are facing a 49.5 per cent increase in wholesale costs,” said Stephanie Gray, Deputy Director at Solar Citizens.
“Queensland wholesale prices are also through the roof because breakdowns at coal and gas units mean we’ve had unexpected shortfalls during times of high demand.
“To the State Government’s credit they have announced a $175 Cost of Living Rebate for Queenslanders’ next power bill but this is a short-term solution to a long-term issue.
“While states like Tasmania are now effectively 100 per cent renewable, Queensland only gets 20 per cent of our electricity from cheap renewable sources. Queensland's reliance on coal and gas is driving up the cost of living and making it harder for businesses to stay competitive.
“Right now the Queensland Government is developing a 10-Year Energy Plan to map out the future of the State’s electricity system. We’d like to see them take action on the rising cost of living by scaling up the rollout of cheap renewable energy while phasing out state-owned coal stations.
“Queenslanders are world leaders in the uptake of rooftop solar. It’s households and small businesses that have led our energy transformation so far because solar energy straight from the rooftop is the cheapest form of electricity.
“Now it’s time for the Queensland Government to do their part by delivering a plan mapping our pathway to a clean energy powered grid. Queenslanders can’t afford to be paying for expensive fossil fuels when the other states have got on with the transition.
“There’s also much more the State Government can do to help renters and people living in social housing have access to cheap solar energy. Rolling out a Virtual Power Plant on Queensland’s social housing, like they’ve done in South Australia, is an obvious first step to help vulnerable households.”
Media contact: Stephanie Gray 0425543006
26 May 2022: Skyrocketing Fossil Fuels Price to Hit Household Power Bills
The Default Market Offer for retail electricity prices has today been announced for Queensland, New South Wales and South Australia, setting up substantial price hikes across the country.
“Aussie households are set to be hundreds of dollars worse off because of skyrocketing coal and gas prices,” said Heidi Lee Douglas, National Director at Solar Citizens.
“The hike in household power bills is the result of a massive increase in the wholesale price of electricity. This increase has been the most pronounced in coal-dependent states like Queensland and New South Wales.
“These power price rises come as households are also battling record prices at the fuel pump because of the spiralling cost of oil. Now more than ever we need to be providing Australian families and businesses with affordable clean technology options so they can keep cost of living expenses under control.
“There are millions of Australian homes with rooftop solar across the country and these households know firsthand that solar energy straight from the rooftop is as cheap as electricity gets. Coupling rooftop solar with an electric vehicle means households can save thousands each year.
“There’s a big role for both state and federal governments to play in rolling out more renewable energy to move Australia away from being dependent on expensive fossil fuels, while helping to make electric transport more affordable and accessible.”
Media Contact: Heidi Lee Douglas 0401 092 570
23 May 2022: Voters Choose Action in the Climate Election
The federal election result shows that the climate narrative has shifted and Australians want real action on climate and clean energy, says community group Solar Citizens.
“Australians have cast their vote for a cleaner future. They’ve thrown their support behind Labor’s commitments to increase the country’s 2030 emissions reduction target, hasten the transition to clean and cheap renewable energy, and make electric transport more affordable,” said Solar Citizens’ Deputy Director, Stephanie Gray.
“Australians are fed up with inaction. They want a Federal Government that will deliver cheap renewables and electric transport to tackle rising emissions and cost of living.
“People are sick of the dead-end climate wars and tired soundbites about needing coal and gas, or electric vehicles ending the weekend. The reality for everyday Australians is that clinging to fossil fuels equals skyrocketing power and petrol prices.
“For years a handful of politicians have tried to derail Australia’s efforts to cut pollution. Saturday’s results show they are now completely out of touch with the electorate where climate was one of the top issues for voters.
“Aussie households have seen for themselves that having solar panels on your roof or an electric car in your garage can save you money while helping to do your bit for the environment. Communities from the inner cities to the regions are already seeing the benefits of cheap clean energy that can power new industries and deliver future-proof jobs.
“Australians have demanded change this election, and we’ve seen a huge shift in how people talk about and vote on climate and clean technology, like renewables and EVs.”
2,400 Solar Citizens members mobilised for clean energy and transport during the election campaign. Volunteers delivered 70,000 energy and transport scorecards to letterboxes across the country, emailed their candidates, turned out to events supporting electric vehicles, volunteered at roadside actions and markets, and signed petitions.
Now it’s up to the new Labor Government, whether that be in majority or otherwise, to deliver a future powered by cheap renewable energy and affordable clean transport.
Media contact: Stephanie Gray 0425 543 006
12 May 2022: Plan to Charge Up Queensland Battery Manufacturing Welcomed
Solar Citizens today welcomes a plan by the Federal Labor Opposition to kickstart battery manufacturing in Queensland by partnering with the Queensland Government and allocating $100 million to create a Battery Manufacturing Precinct.
“We’re seeing a lot of interest from business, particularly in Townsville and Gladstone, to utilise Queensland’s abundant renewable energy resources to affordably manufacture battery materials, solar panels and renewable hydrogen,” said Stephanie Gray, Energy Strategist at Solar Citizens.
“Government investment, like what Labor is putting on the table here, is key to setting up the right infrastructure and giving the business sector confidence to build projects in Queensland.
“With the right planning and investment, Regional Queensland will have a bright economic future making clean technology and renewable hydrogen to power cities here and overseas.
“Regional Queenslanders have been powering Australia and other parts of the world for a very long time and those same communities are perfectly placed to keep playing that important role as the world moves to cut emissions.
“The next step for all levels of government is to support the urgent rollout of vital grid infrastructure in Queensland, like CopperString 2.0 and Renewable Energy Zones, so that more solar and wind projects can connect and provide cheap energy to the grid.”
Media contact: Stephanie Gray 0425 543 006
12 May 2022: Clean energy scorecard shines spotlight on election greenwashing
Solar Citizens have launched their 2022 election to show voters what the major parties are really bringing to the table on renewable energy and clean transport.
“Climate and cost of living are top of mind for voters this election and we’ve seen a lot of talk and eleventh hour promises from both sides – but there's a clear divide between the major parties,” said Ellen Roberts, Solar Citizens’ National Director.
“Our Scorecard lays out where the major parties stand on key renewable energy and clean transport issues, so voters can cut through the spin and see if their candidates are offering real action, or greenwashing.
“Rolling out affordable renewable energy and electric transport is a clear pathway to lower bills and lower emissions. Yet some parties are still offering dead-end policies that will delay the transition to renewables and electric vehicles and lock households into rising coal, gas and petrol prices.
“Everyday Australians have been doing the heavy lifting to transition our energy system, with over three million solar rooftops and counting, and more people than ever now looking to switch to electric vehicles.
“But Australians have been let down by a lack of federal action to bring cheap renewable energy online as quickly as possible or bring affordable electric cars to our shores.
“This election is an opportunity to unlock Australia’s potential as a renewable superpower, with clean industries and future-proof jobs, and cheap clean energy and electric vehicles that slash the cost of living.
“Our scorecard will help Australians vote for a clean future when they head to the polls next Saturday.”
Solar Citizens is calling for all parties to commit to a plan to transition to 100% renewable energy, investment in transmission infrastructure and renewable hydrogen and manufacturing, support for rooftop solar and battery uptake, and electric vehicle subsidies and fuel efficiency standards.
Media contact: Ellen Roberts 0408 583 694