The rapid and ongoing uptake of rooftop solar continues to have an impact on the big energy retailers, with Origin Energy revealing that its December quarter electricity sales to households in the December quarter were down 7 per cent from the same period a year earlier.
The data was released in the company’s quarterly production report on Thursday, as a line item in report largely focused on its LNG production.
It reveals that Origin’s retail electricity sales in the December quarter fell to 3.8TWh from 4.1TWh in the same period a year earlier – a fall its table put at 7 per cent, although the rounding of the sales figure may distort that slightly.
Electricity sales to business customers was also down, from 5.1TWh to 4.9Twh, a fall of 4 per cent.
In a brief note, Origin said the fall in retail sales was “primarily due to lower usage from continued solar penetration and lower customer numbers.”
Australia posted a record year of rooftop solar installations in 2018, with a total of .1.6GW in the sub 100kW category, taking the total to more than 8GW. Overall investment in solar power, including larger rooftop systems and utility-scale installations, totalled 3.9GW.
The boom in small-scale rooftop solar systems – a 47 per cent leap from 2017 – led to calls from some quarters, such as the ACCC chair Rod Sims, for an abrupt end to rooftop solar rebates. This was loudly supported by Origin and EnergyAustralia, among others.