Solar tariff cut
Thursday, 22nd March, 2018
By Craig Brealey
Households and businesses with solar panels are about to lose more of the meagre reward they get for feeding electricity into the power grid.
At the end of 2016, the NSW Government abolished the Solar Bonus Scheme which had paid a tariff of 60 cents per kilowatt hour to homes with panels on their roofs.
Electricity retailers responded by cutting the tariff to 11 cents per kwh and soon it could drop even lower.
This week the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) announced its recommendation that solar feed-in tariffs be cut to eight cents in 2018/19.
Thousands of people in Broken Hill and throughout the Far West had solar panels installed when the government offered a subsidy for the work.
More were put up even after the subsidy ended in a bid to save money due to the extortionate and ever-rising power bills which are now the highest in the world.
IPART said the main reason for its recommendation this week was that the cost of baseload electricity was forecast to fall due to more energy being generated by mainly large-scale renewable energy projects.
If taken up by electricity retailers, 32,013 solar households and businesses in the Barwon and Murray electorates will pay higher electricity bills, said the NSW Greens.
The Greens’ energy spokesman, Jeremy Buckingham, said for NSW Government should change the criteria for assessing solar feed-in tariffs to recognise the many benefits of solar energy.
“This proposed reduction in the benchmark price paid for households generating solar electricity is a direct result of the NSW Government’s failure to instruct IPART to assess the true value of solar power,” Mr Buckingham said.
“If the National Party was serious about supporting renewable energy then they should be saying ‘wrong way, go back’ to IPART.”
He said the government should make electricity retailers pay a fair price for the solar electricity from roof-top systems, given they help reduce the amount of fossil fuels that are burnt.
“Solar power is working to even out demand peaks and reduce electricity prices,” Mr Buckingham said.
“Households and businesses should be rewarded for this service, not penalised for the benefit of big coal.”
NSW Greens Renewable Energy spokeswoman, Tamara Smith, said the party had introduced a Bill to NSW Parliament “to ensure a minimum, fair price for solar”.