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.
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.