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SA Power Networks fights to charge solar homes $100/y more for the grid

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South Australian network operator SA Power networks has been accused of unfairly targeting solar homeowners, after its appeal to the Federal Court to overturn the Australian Energy Regulator’s decision to reject new taxes for solar homeowners.

As reported on RE in June, SAPN sought to impose a special fee on solar households equivalent to $100 a year, but the proposal was rejected by the regulator.

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In July, SA Power Networks decided to slash the electricity usage component of its network charges to just 3.3c/kWh, just one-fifth of its previous peak rate, and impose hefty “demand charges”, potentially making rooftop solar (without battery storage) less attractive to consumers.

Solar Citizens national Director Claire O’Rourke, says the move to overturn the AER’s decision on the special solar fee was just the latest attempt by SAPN to discriminate against solar homeowners.

“This is a brazen money grab from SA Power Networks who want to target solar homeowners, and are again trying to push through unfair fees onto the solar community by any means possible,” O’Rourke said in a statement on Friday.

“When SA Power Networks first proposed these new taxes on solar homeowners there was widespread community outrage.

“South Australians sent a clear message that they would not accept this attack on solar homeowners, and the AER listened and rejected the proposed fees.

“It’s time for SA Power Networks to listen too, and to stop trying to penalise those in the community who are embracing renewable energy.

“SA Power Networks can either attack or embrace the community energy revolution. This latest move indicates they intend to undermine the efforts of thousands of South Australians who have chosen to take control of their electricity bills by making the switch to solar.

“There are more than 184,920 solar homes in South Australia with more people going solar every day.

“Power companies need to stop trying to impose unwarranted charges.

“This is an unacceptable move by SA Power Networks and we call on them to put a stop to this witch hunt,” said Ms O’Rourke.  

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  • JustThink4Once

    The power companies seem to be insistent on accelerating the home owners incentive to abandon the grid with solar/battery storage as soon as it’s viable.

    • john

      As I pointed out below in fact the short sighted idea of charging more for service or demand then lowering the cost of usage is counterproductive.
      However I do have a very strong feeling that what will happen is that all households will get a charge to have a power line going past their block.
      The 1920s network business model has a problem.
      I would say the best course of action is to embrace new technology and make available PV and Storage so being connected to the grid is a way of helping both the land owner but also the supplier.

  • Beat Odermatt

    Sometimes we have companies behaving in a disgusting manner. Exploiting a monopoly situation and trying to harm our environment are the lowest form of commercial behaviour. A newly hatched maggot is higher on the evolutionary ladder than like a company like that.

    • mick

      I had a yarn with a young bloke working for sapn he said they are embracing new technology and that the proposed price hike is justified based on the old saw that solar makes it dearer for them to operate I argued the case no result, came down to pressure on wires ie electrity goes both ways and non solar pays for solar equipped I should note the change of tactics to employ young people to relate also he is solar equipped

      • Beat Odermatt

        It is one of the most stupid arguments aver provided by a company trying to justify totally disgusting behaviour. Applying their arguments, anybody using a motorbike would have to pay more for petrol than a user of a car, as the car driver would “cross subsidise” the petrol of the motor cycle rider. If manager of these companies are unable to run a company without having to rely on practices harmful to the public and environment, then they should resign and go to the beach to make sandcastles.

        • mick

          my best example would be the caravan park owner harassing grey nomads for not using his caravan park its about costs, service and do you want to be there,also keep them off the beach they would try to pinch the kids buckets,knock down their sand castles and charge them for the sand

  • Mike Dill

    As storage costs come down, people with solar and storage systems will accept having no return for electrons exported to the grid, and peak demand charges. The fact that nearly nothing will be sent to the grid and that they will not have any demand at peak will ruin the utilities that continue to play that game.
    Demand charges can be fair, if they apply to everyone.

  • john

    The network is just following a natural curve when the cost for a consumer of using RE is lower than supply so change the usage price to below any possible figure that makes RE economic.
    Once the over all figure for demand charge and supply is more than RE and storage then the resort is to institute a service obligation fee.
    The later however will meet some disquiet within the electorate due to an historic situation where the supply of electric power was a service not regarded as related to the individual person.
    I can see a charge being made to all people who own a block of land.
    The implications are not good for the structure of society and especially to mitigate use of FF.
    In the short term this will work and curtail any further uptake of RE the desired outcome.

    • JustThink4Once

      The problem for the network of course is new suburbs being built off-grid.
      http://reneweconomy.com.au/2015/why-new-housing-estates-and-whole-towns-will-go-off-grid-27409

      That’s going to piss you off if you live in the adjoining suburb as your house valuation falls, along with your vote for any party that endorses such a discrepancy. If the relevant government then makes service fees compulsory they upset the property developers and any chance of a political donation.

      We have already seen certain state governments running the line that people without solar subsidize those with it. No mention of the installation cost worn by the solar household of course. But is trying to shame voters for daring to reduce their electricity bills a politically wise move?

      • john

        The problem is that this technology is Destructive in every way which ever way the government goes or the networks goes it is Destructive however the simple fact is that Solar is able to deliver power cheaper than our present way of doing business.
        The best way of dealing with it is to embrace the tech and sell of give householders the tech then the companies have skin in the game otherwise what will happen is those who can will leave.
        The short myopic idea of charging heaps for connection and nothing for power will fail without a doubt.

      • Jacob

        Brand new suburbs are going to have FTTP broadband.

  • Malcolm M

    The 0.033 c/kWh is a clear cross-subsidy, because the spot price of power in SA is commonly about 0.05 c/kWh ($50/MWh). Just look up the aemo website for the current spot price.

  • Ronald Brakels

    Anyone who reduces their grid electricity use through rooftop solar or by just being careful with their electricity use ends up paying more per kilowatt-hour all up because of the fixed supply charge. As a result I pay about 27% more per kilowatt-hour here in South Australia than the average non-solar using household in my area. If I had to pay an extra $100 a year it would mean I would be paying about 38% more. So I am wondering why paying 27% more isn’t enough for SA Power and will paying an extra 38% stop them from trying to get more money out of me? Or will they then decide that maybe I should be paying 50% more or maybe 200% more? I’d just like to know, because maybe we could all save time if I just send them my trousers and they can just take out whatever amount of money they think is appropriate.