The practice of ‘gold plating’ of poles and wires makes up at least 50 per cent of the cost of most Australian’s electricity bills and have been by far the biggest cause of rising power bills over the past five years, according to Solar Citizens.

National Director Claire O’Rourke said a recent Senate Inquiry into electricity prices found these high network costs occurred because of incentives by network regulators that rewarded significant spending in an electricity network that may not be needed.

“The millions of households who have installed solar PV are a game changer for energy generation in Australia,” she said.

“With rapid advances in battery storage technology, our nation is well-placed for distributed electricity generation, which will take pressure off the grid at peak demand times.

“It is no wonder that close to 1.4 million households have gone solar in response to rising power bills, driven largely by these network costs. Big companies have been caught out ‘gold plating’ the network while passing on to consumers the risk of inefficient investment and failing to anticipate changes in demand.

“Schemes to encourage the uptake of solar, like the Renewable Energy Target, work to bring down the cost of electricity for all power users.

“The Federal Government’s own Warburton report found that the full 41,000GWh target including rooftop and large scale solar would lower power costs for all Australians over coming years, whether they had rooftop solar installed or not. The Government has hurt Australian consumers by slashing the Target.

“Governments who care about rising power prices should really invest in household solar power and storage technologies to speed up cost savings across the network for all electricity users through reducing pressure on the grid.

“A recent Federal Senate Inquiry received submissions from 550 solar homeowners from across the country highlight how they felt they were being hit with unfair or hidden fees, saw an increase in service charges after installing solar, experienced exorbitant fees for installing poles and wires in rural areas and questionable practices from the big power companies.

“The government and big power companies should be working together to help struggling households by protecting solar, rather than attacking solar households,” she said.

Media contact: Amy Gordon 0410 631 404