MR: Solar Citizens condemns plan to charge solar households for exporting to the grid - Solar Citizens

MR: Solar Citizens condemns plan to charge solar households for exporting to the grid

Key Points:

  • The Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) has released a draft ruling to allow networks to charge solar owners to export their power to the grid.
  • Charging households to export their power is an unfair measure that will increase payback periods for installations and may discourage more people from investing in solar.
  • Rooftop solar benefits all energy consumers by providing cheap, local energy and pushing down wholesale power prices. It is unfair to charge solar owners to export clean energy, when large generators, like coal and gas fired power stations, aren’t charged.
  • Solar Citizens’ National Director Ellen Roberts and solar owners in Melbourne, Adelaide, Sydney, Brisbane and Hervey Bay are available for interview. Contact: Ellen Roberts 0408 583 694
Media release - Solar Citizens condemns AEMC decision to allow solar export charges

Australian Energy Market Commission's (AEMC) draft decision to charge solar owners for sharing clean power with the grid is Australian transition is yet another handbrake for Australia's energy transition, Solar Citizens have said following today's announcement.

‘As we transition our energy system and clean up our power supply, we need to be encouraging more rooftop solar - not penalising people for putting panels on their roof.

’Rooftop solar benefits all energy consumers by providing cheap power to the grid for everyone to use,’ said Solar Citizens National Director Ellen Roberts.

‘Big coal and gas generators aren’t charged for exporting their power to the grid, so why should we be slugging Aussie families with panels on their roofs?'

‘The Queensland and Victorian Governments have already publicly stated their opposition to the sun tax, but now we urgently need all of our State Energy Ministers to step up and protect solar owners from this discriminatory charge.’

'If we want to look at equity in the energy system, let's look at the big players like energy retailers making big profits, not Mums and Dads with solar.'

‘Solar Citizens’ analysis shows that it’s mostly lower and middle income earners who are putting solar panels on their rooftops to cut their energy bills and do their bit for the environment.’

Geoffrey Shepherd is a pensioner and solar owner from Hervey Bay in regional Queensland and is concerned about new charges when he is on a low feed in tariff for the power that he does produce.

‘As a pensioner, it’s potentially going to impact me financially. I spent $6000 on my solar system, and I’m being hammered because I’m only getting 8c [per kWh] for my electricity via my feed in tariff – I’m lucky if I get a shirt button back from my solar!’

‘Picking on people who are trying to save the planet and save money for themselves, especially people such as my wife and I who are retired, it doesn’t seem very fair.’
Peter Youll, a retiree and solar owner in North Western Sydney also doesn’t think the decision is fair.  

'We’re in a block of townhouses and the energy I export is consumed by my immediate neighbours, so my impact on the grid is negligible. I don’t think it’s fair that I should be charged for providing this service, especially when large generators don’t have to pay.'

'If this tax is introduced, then I’ll be doing whatever I can not to export anything at all.'  
More background:

Currently in the Australian Electricity Rules, networks are prohibited from charging generators, including small scale generators such as solar households, fees to export their power. Under this new proposal this prohibition will be removed from the rules giving networks the power to charge solar owners network fees for export. This will apply only to small scale generators, but not large scale like big coal and gas power stations.

This is not the first time the AEMC has proposed this change, but it has been defeated previously given the need to incentivise rooftop solar and ensure a decent return for solar households.

Export charging is at the request of the distribution networks, who claim that solar is impacting the network.
Media contact: Ellen Roberts 0408 583 694