Rooftop solar subsidies – ACCC calls for axe.

Rooftop solar subsidies should be completely removed and the solar feed-in tariffs should be managed at a state rather than a federal level, according to recommendations from the competition watchdog.

Rooftop solar subsidies in Australia

The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission’s electricity affordability report, which was released this week, highlights the cost of our National Energy Market, which include the large-scale renewable energy target, the small-scale renewable energy scheme and solar feed-in tariffs.

The ACCC said the cost of the LRET are expected to fall in the years after 2020, and were happy to leave the scheme to wind up on its 2030 end date. They said that the SRES, however, cost $130 million in 2016-17, and should be wound down and abolished by 2021, almost ten years ahead of schedule, to reduce costs for all consumers – not just those with solar installed.

The report, according to the Australian, found that households with solar panels installed earn $538 per year via feed-in tariffs, which doesn’t count the fact that they pay less for electricity as well:

“Meanwhile, non-solar households and businesses have faced the burden of the cost of premium solar feed-in tariff schemes and the SRES,” the ACCC said.

“While premium solar schemes are closed to new consumers, the costs of these schemes are ­enduring.”

With the New South Wales solar feed-in tariff to drop by 44% this financial year, the glory days of feed-in tariffs could be behind us. But at what point do we stop to count the social cost (i.e. the environmental displacement)? 

Rooftop solar subsidies in Australia - Opposition Leader Bill Shorten
Rooftop solar subsidies in Australia – Opposition Leader Bill Shorten (source: Wikipedia)

The 398 page report has ‘produced vital ammunition to reform energy’, has been ‘hijacked by zealots’ and doesn’t justify the building of new coal-fired power stations, depending on who you ask. About an hour ago Bill Shorten admitted he hasn’t read the ACCC report yet so it’ll be interesting to see what his thoughts are. Certainly just early days for this conversation, but it’s good to see Australia talking about our energy future and trying to come up with a plan. Watch this space! 

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Solar feed-in tariffs to rise by up to 140%

Despite electricity price hikes of up to 20% last week by AGL Energy, Origin, and EnergyAustralia, there is some respite for those with solar panels feeding energy back into the grid as the same providers have increased their solar feed-in tariffs. For those that aren’t on a grandfathered feed-in tariff, most people have been seeing a fairly low return of around 6c/kWh. These have been raised quite substantially in recent days. 2017 has been a tough year for electricity prices with occurrences such as the closing of the 1600MW Hazelwood coal-fired power plant putting a lot of strain on the system. Although a step in the right direction, renewable energy infrastructure investment vs. ROI still hasn’t reached that magical ‘tipping point’ where it’s a no brainer – especially for homeowners – so it’s great to see the FITs getting a commensurate boost!

Solar feed-in tariffs – 2017 Changes

Australian Solar Feed-In Tariffs 2017
Australian Solar Feed-In Tariffs 2017 (source: pixabay.com)

AGL will increase their solar feed-in tariffs quite significantly (they’ve stated that it could lead to as much as $332 in savings for some households):

  • From 6.8c/kWh to 16.3c/kWh in South Australia (140% increase)
  • From 5c/kWh to 11.3c/kWh in Victoria
  • From 6c/kWh to 10.5c/kWh in Queensland
  • From 6.1c/kWh to 11.1c/kWh in New South Wales

EnergyAustralia have also raised their FITs, with a statement discussing the higher wholesale price of electricity (over the last two years since the carbon tax was repealed the cost of wholesale energy has more than doubled). “The increase means customers will be paid more for the power they send back to the grid, reflecting recent rises in the broader wholesale electricity ­market,” a spokesman said.

  • From 8.2c/kWh to 15c/kWh in South Australia
  • From 6.1c/kWh to 12.5c/kWh in New South Wales
  • From 6c/kWh to 11c/kWh in Queensland

Origin haven’t announced specifics of their new solar feed-in tariffs yet but, according to The Australian, the new FITs will “reflect higher wholesale energy prices, and would be packaged with lower base rates and other discounts.”

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