New consumer rights group to protect home solar owners
31 May 2013
A national consumer rights group - Solar Citizens - is launching today to ensure the interests of solar owners are protected from changes to laws and policies by power companies and governments.
Solar Citizens will use the latest online technology to bring together existing and would-be solar owners, helping them to advocate for their rights as energy investors and push for panels on every Australian rooftop.
“There are now 2.5 million Australians living under a solar roof,” says Solar Citizens Manager Dr Geoff Evans. “To date ordinary Australians have together invested $8 billion dollars in solar panels for their homes."
“This has helped millions of people take back control of their power bills, and has brought the price of solar systems down massively. A 1kw system that four years ago cost $12,000 today costs only $3000."
But while Australians love their solar, in some place they are being penalised for their decision. Energy retailers and state governments have been considering a range of measures that make it harder for people to go solar.
In Victoria, prospective solar owners have been facing a hard time connecting to the grid. In some areas network operators have simply been refusing to connect up new solar systems.
In NSW anyone who invests in solar has to negotiate with their retailers to get a price for the power that retailer then sells to their neighbours.
"There's a real power imbalance in those negotiations" said Mr Evans.
In Queensland, the Competition Authority has recommended the introduction of new service charge, which would make solar owners pay on average $200 a year more than any other energy consumer when they connect to the grid. Solar Citizens will bring together Queenslanders in a campaign to stop these charges.
“The situations in Victoria and Queensland highlight the trend we are seeing across the country,” said Dr Evans. “We will soon be working on campaigns with solar owners in every state to make sure all Australian solar owners are ensured a fair go.”
“Network operators and energy retailers don’t want to see Australians take back control of the grid. They are making it harder for Aussies to go solar in order to protect their profits."
"Until now, there has been no way for solar owners to come together and protect their interests. From today that will change. We are asking every solar owner to join up at Solar Citizens and if you have an issue with your power company or story to tell please contact us at www.solarcitizens.org.au.”
Solar Citizens is an offshoot of the community based renewable energy organisation 100% Renewable.