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Solar power drain

Saturday, 13th May, 2017

By Daniel Stringer

The sun may be setting on solar, as many customers in Broken Hill are having serious issues following the end of the Solar Bonus Scheme. 

In the wake of the Solar Bonus Scheme which ended on December 31 last year, many solar customers in Broken Hill are struggling to come to terms with what it means to them and their energy consumption. 

Following the end of the scheme, many of the benefits obtained by having solar in your home also ended.

The main impact was the reduction in the amount of money households are paid for feeding energy back into the grid. 

Due to the end of the Solar Bonus Scheme it is now recommended that customers switch from a gross meter to a net meter, as a net meter allows the customer to use the energy they generate to power their house before energy is sent back to the grid.

Installing a net meter may seem like a simple solution, however for many customers in Broken Hill it is proving to be anything but. 

The responses from a Facebook post by the BDT showed that some solar customers in Broken Hill are still waiting for their meter to be switched.

The Energy and Water Ombudsman NSW, Janine Young, says that of the 1354 solar customers in Broken Hill, more than 1200 are still waiting to have the net meter installed.

Mrs Young says she has received 810 complaints across NSW relating to solar meters since July 2016, with the most common complaints being around the installation and delay of net meters.

Her advice to solar customers in Broken Hill is that if they haven’t yet switched to the net meter, then they should contact their energy retailer.

“Customers in the Broken Hill area will be missing out on feed-in tariffs if they haven’t yet installed a net meter,” Mrs Young told the BDT. 

“If they are still waiting, I strongly suggest they phone their retailers to establish a meter installation date and ask for backdating of the net meting feed in tariff if delays have occurred,” she said.

One solar customer in Broken Hill is also upset with the communication from solar consultants, as he recently spent $13,000 updating his solar panels only to discover he will receive very little financial benefit.

“I recently boosted my system to 6.5kw because they calculated what goes back into the grid and I was getting 6c/kw,” a frustrated Darryl Willis told the BDT. 

“I got that boosted to 10c/kw and they later rang me up and told me that they wanted to change the inverter because you can only put 3kw back to the grid,” Mr Willis said.

“They failed to tell me that, so if you calculate it back to 10c/kw for 3kw/h that is $30 a month in round figures and $100 a quarter,” he said.

“For people like me who are never home, we are supplying electricity back to the grid and then buying our own electricity back.” 

Since the Solar Bonus Scheme was introduced back in 2010, over 320,000 households and small businesses have switched to solar power, however it now seems the shine has worn off.

Reader comments

* I have 20 panels and still pay 500 to 600 dollars for the 3 months

I was told a technician would come to my house in a 2 week period, no one showed, that was over a month ago. My neighbor got the same notice a fortnight later and has had hers done at the end of that week. She’s had no issues, I’ve had no further contact.

* I’ve called Origin at least twice since February and each time they promise the smart meters will be installed “at the end of the month” and then another month passes without the meter being installed. I’ve resulted to turning my solar panels off! The longer they hold off switching over to the net feed-in meters the more money they make from stealing your solar power. Taking it from you at 6c a kWh and selling it back at 30c a kWh.

* Four times I have been told a technician is coming out. On the fourth time I was left a note saying it couldn’t be done because I have the wrong meter. How do I find out what this means?

* I had origin energy try to install mine in April 2017 but we need extra work done before and we are waiting on the electrician.

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