Household Solar Slashing Queensland’s Staggering Electricity Prices
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.