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NSW, ACT households face big hike in cost of installing solar PV

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Solar households in New South Wales and the ACT face an exponential rise the cost of installing rooftop PV – as much as $434 for Canberra households – after utility ActewAGL confirmed charges for meter installation will be increasing from $66 to $500, starting July 01.

The new, massively increased metering charge could spark another rush to rooftop solar in the two states, as households looking to save on electricity costs try to get their rooftop solar applications in before the June 30 deadline.

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In response to a media inquiry, ActewAGL’s general manager of asset management, Stephen Devlin, said the change was brought about by the introduction of new National Electricity Rules that restructured the provision of metering in the industry.

“As part of the Australian Energy Regulator’s final decision released on 30 April 2015, ActewAGL Distribution is required to move to full cost recovery for metering services from 1 July 2015,” he said.

“Therefore, from 1 July 2015 ActewAGL customers will be required to pay the full up-front cost for new meters, including installation. Applications for any connection received before 30 June 2015 will be treated under the old pricing regime, where customers only pay for installation.

“For solar customers, the cost of a new meter and installation would change from about $66 to $500. NSW Distributors will also operate under this AER decision from 1 July 2015.”

According to Solar Quotes’ blog, meter charges will be increasing by around $200 in NSW from July 1 due to the AER’s decision.

The increased charges are just one of a number of measures being proposed and implemented by networks across the country. Last month, the South Australian network operator proposed charging solar households $100 more than non solar households for network costs. In Queensland, the government has just approved massive hikes in fixed charges which make it less attractive for households to install solar.

As we reported last year, the Australian Energy Regulator rejected proposals from NSW electricity distributors to bolster the network with more poles and wires in the hope that the pass-through cost savings would reduce power bills by as much as $60 a year for the state’s business and household customers.

The regulator revealed in April 2014 its decision to issue placeholder determinations for ActewAGL, Ausgrid, Endeavour Energy and Essential Energy, downgrading the revenue amounts that the four businesses could recover from their customers in 2014-15.

“The AER has not accepted the revenue allowances proposed by any of these four businesses for the transitional year,” AER chairman Andrew Reeves said in statement, adding that the regulator had instead applied a lower rate of return and corporate tax allowance, consistent with rate of return guideline and recent market trends.

As we noted later in 2014, the networks have a history of asking too much, and while the AER has sought to cut them down in the past, they have often been over-ruled, or forced to compromise on appeal. Actew AGL had wanted to spend $892 million in the ACT, but the AER allowed just $555 million.

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  • Mike Dill

    And the defection will continue.

  • https://www.facebook.com/AlbertJSjoberg Albert Sjoberg.

    Absolutely criminal. Words fail me.

  • Edward Borland

    Off the grid we go.

    • Miles Harding

      Then, Get off and Stay off!!
      [meant in a kind and encouraging sort of way 😉 ]

      Somewhere around $250 would seem reasonable, considering the labor to install it.
      WA had this issue a while back and was forced to revise meter pricing. At one time a three phase meter upgrade was over $600, despite the fact that the meter is cheap and the install cost is mostly mobilisation.

      I still have an issue with these supposed ‘smart’ meters. No wi-fi connectivity, no real-time energy data. I would expect a local update interval of about a second so that household demand monitoring and management can be implemented. Thirty minute samples adds insult to the outrage.

      This sounds like the sort of gouging we should expect from privatised electricity.

      • Tim Forcey

        HI Miles:

        I have an in-home display on my fridge which shows me electricity data from my smart meter pretty much real time. I got it for free from my electricity retailer actually. It still works even after I switched retailers.

        The other day the in-home display told me my solar PV system had tripped. (The sun was out and I should have been exporting but I wasn’t. Handy that…) I am in Melbourne… Cause of first-ever-in-8 years solar PV trip? Not sure. We did have some quite nasty weather. Maybe water got in somewhere. Anyway, I just reset the breaker and seems all good/back in business…

  • Henry

    A discriminatory pricing court challenge… someone?

    • Barri Mundee

      I am surprised the Greens, which govern the ACT, are permitting this to happen!

      • John Bromhead

        The Greens do not govern the ACT. The Greens hold the balance of power because in the 17 member assembly there are 8 Labor and 8 Liberals. The Greens member is a minister in the government.

        • Barri Mundee

          Ah, thanks for that correction John.

  • Geoff Bragg – SEIA

    Well, the metering charges are not really discriminatory- they’re across the board for all new meters or changed metering, solar or otherwise. I’m more interested in now consumers being able to claim ownership of the meter itself, and have access to its data, and more critically its data output pins for connection to a hybrid solar inverter. If you must pay for a metering upgrade, you shouldn’t need to install additional metering or CTs to inform & control your own energy management equipment. There could be a silver lining in this AER decision.

  • Reto Fassbind

    So in some places, an electricity meter costs $434, while it costs about $200 in other locations. Did I understand that correctly? When I do a search on Ebay for, I find (new) electricity meters with (retail) prices around US$100 from GE and ABB. What kind of high-tech super-dooper gadget do you folks from down under use for metering?

    • Barri Mundee

      It’s an unfair charge which is designed to achieve only one outcome: discourage people from installing solar as the increasing number of installations is hurting their business model.
      I am hoping for a legal challenge to reverse this unwelcome measure.