Solar Citizens to give evidence at Senate Inquiry into ‘goldplating’ of electricity network - Solar Citizens

Solar Citizens to give evidence at Senate Inquiry into ‘goldplating’ of electricity network

Solar Citizens will today give evidence on behalf of 550 solar homeowners who feel they have been unfairly treated by the big electricity companies at the Federal Senate Inquiry into the performance and management of electricity network companies.

The Inquiry is investigating links between higher electricity prices and over-investment in the national grid, known as ‘goldplating’. The hearing today in Sydney will hear how pricing of network services is discriminating against households and businesses who make the sensible generate their own energy to take control of their power bills.

Solar Citizens National Director Claire O’Rourke said it was appalling that the overwhelming majority of submissions received from solar homeowners showed they had been treated unfairly by their energy provider.

“The Inquiry submissions of 550 solar homeowners raise the serious question of whether the big electricity companies are trying to systematically deter or disadvantage people who chose to generate their own cost-effective solar power on their roofs,”Ms O’Rourke said.

“The key concerns we heard were people being hit with unfair or hidden fees, an increase in service charges after installing solar, exorbitant fees for installing poles and wires in rural areas and questionable practices from the big power companies.

“The fact is, the biggest component of power bills is network charges, the poles and wires - these charges amount to as much as 60% of the average household electricity bill.

“Australians should be charged for the electricity they use, not the inflated, goldplated prices electricity companies charge.

“Solar can help to bring down power bills by more than 50%, which is one reason why there are 1.3 million solar homes around Australia.”

Through initiatives like the Renewable Energy Target, solar and other renewable energy sources work to lower prices for all Australians, by reducing the wholesale price of power in the longer term.”

“If the Federal government moves to cut the Renewable Energy Target we will see higher power prices for all Australians. Protecting the Renewable Energy Target is good for all Australian consumers, whether they have rooftop solar installed or not.

“Our hope is that this inquiry will make strong recommendations to prevent discriminatory and unfair actions against solar owners and help all Australians households with the rising cost of power prices.” Ms O’Rourke said.

Some typical submissions from solar homeowners include:

  • “It was astonishing to find that my last electricity bill had gone up by more than 200%, even though my actual usage had not changed at all.”
  • “I had a 70% increase in the service fee from one quarter to the next. There was no explanation.”
  • “When we changed over to solar PV, the service charge went from about 80 cents a day to $1.30 and the kwh went from 19 cents to 33 cents, completely negating the savings we were making with our solar panels.”
  • “I live in a rural area, where the nearest power line is perhaps a kilometre away for some people. We have been told they will have to pay up to $10,000 to get the power on.”

Details of Inquiry Hearing
What: Senate Inquiry into ‘gold plating’ by the big energy companies
Where: The Portside Centre, 207 Kent Street, Sydney
When: 17 February 2015,
Speakers: Solar Citizens National Director Claire O’Rourke (Claire is scheduled to appear at 4.10pm)

Claire O’Rourke is available for interview.

Interviews with individuals who made submission are also available.

Media contact: Amy Gordon 0410 631 404