Tasmania rooftop solar market in decline after tariff 'double whammy' | RenewEconomy

Tasmania rooftop solar market in decline after tariff ‘double whammy’

Tasmanian renewables group calls for state government intervention after a series of cuts to solar feed-in tariffs causes market to contract.

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Renewable energy advocates in Tasmania have called on the state government to take measures to ensure “fair treatment” for rooftop solar owners, after huge cuts to the amount they are paid for solar energy exported to the grid.

Over the last two years in Tasmania, the feed-in tariff (FiT) for exported solar electricity has been slashed from 28c/kWh, to 8c, to 6.1c.

From July 01 this year, the rate was cut again, to 6.05c for electricity that, it has been pointed out, is then sold on to non-solar households for 25.2c/kWh.

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“The latest electricity tariff changes announced by the economic regulator add insult to injury for solar owners and installers,” said Jack Gilding, executive officer of the Tasmanian Renewable Energy Alliance, in a statement on Wednesday.

“Electricity prices have risen by nearly 2 per cent, but the amount that solar owners are paid for electricity they put back into the grid has gone down.”

Gilding said that a further metering software problem had exacerbated the inequity dealt to Tasmanian solar owners, with some found to be paying an extra energy charge, as if they were receiving electricity from the grid, rather than exporting to it.

“Solar PV remains a good investment for many homes and businesses but for the industry to grow again it needs a fair deal from government and consumers need clarity and consistency around policy,” Gilding said.

“Solar owners should be fairly rewarded for providing electricity close to the point of use and avoiding the need for infrastructure that makes up nearly half the cost of electricity.”

To this end, TREA has launched a petition and written to state energy minister Matthew Groom requesting a meeting to discuss what needs to be done by the state government to ensure solar owners were getting a fair deal.

Groom, despite being a Liberal Party MP, appears to have a reasonable appreciation of the importance of renewable energy, and has even spoken publicly in favour of wind energy and the RET – two major Coalition unmentionables.

“I support the renewable energy (target) broadly,” Groom told the Tasmanian Minerals and Energy conference at Queenstown last week, where he also called for more renewable energy infrastructure to be built, to capitalise on the state’s “extraordinary” green energy potential.

“We have extraordinary resources in Tasmania and some of the best sites on the face of the planet on which to build them,” he said.

But as TREA notes, the state’s solar industry is actually contracting – a factor that, along with reduced hydro output and curtailed wind plans, has seen Tasmania shift from being a net exporter of renewable energy to an importer of energy.

According the TREA, Tasmania spent $34 million more buying brown-coal fired electricity from Victorian in the last financial year than it earned exporting renewable energy to the mainland.

“The state government needs to take action to ensure that Tasmania again reaps the financial, economic and environmental benefits that flow from being an exporter of renewable energy,” said Gilding. “A vibrant solar industry is an essential part of this.”

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12 Comments
  1. Peggy Fisher 5 years ago

    It’s a pity their senators voted down the carbon tax. It was great for the Tasmanian economy. They were completely dudded by Eric Abetz, Jacqui Lambie and the rest.

    • Charles 5 years ago

      Yep. You would think Senators representing a state would be fighting for the strengths of that state. Instead, Abetz and co just brown nose the PM. Lambie, who comes from the north-west coast, home of most of Tassie’s existing and planned windfarms, has fallen for the wind-farm syndrome BS.

  2. Reality Bites 5 years ago

    AEMO currently indicates the wholesale price per kW in Tasmania is 3.667 cents, so paying 6.05 cents means that the Tas State Government has to subsidise 2.383 cents per kW or, what the States have done is just pass the costs on to other users. Supply is not just whacking up some panels, plugging in and generating. It is currently about having a network to connect to and feed in so it can be used by somebody elsewhere in the network. You currently need to pay for the network. That is unless you use the power yourself and/or you can store it.

    • Ronald Brakels 5 years ago

      I pay 42 cents a kilowatt-hour for grid electricity. Is that enough to pay for the network, or should I send some extra money somewhere to cover it?

      • Reality Bites 5 years ago

        Ron depending on where you live, maybe you already are via state government charges, or maybe the state has saved a bit of money on your ambulance service because they had to subsidise a FiT! There is no money tree and most of the utilities are State owned so the public pays one way or another. To argue we was robbed via a double whammy is complete nonsense, more like we was robbing someone else and shock horror, they found out and ended it. If you are really paying 42 cents, then that would go a long way to justify solar and storage. So disconnect and have a nice day.

        • Ronald Brakels 5 years ago

          Am I really paying 42 cents? Well, I just checked and I’m not. Last electricity bill was $221.50 for 498 kilowatt-hours which comes to 44.5 cents a kilowatt-hour. But that is still not high enough to make it worthwhile for me to go off-grid using energy storage technology that is currently on the market.

          • juxx0r 5 years ago

            Go diesel Ronald, it’s about 35c/kWh.

            I think we’ve hit a practical limit on how high they can jack up the grid power prices.

          • Ronald Brakels 5 years ago

            When we can get our hands on the 7 kilowatt-hour Powerwall for $3,000 or so US, then things get interesting. However, the electricity industry here has the power to remove all incentive for people to go off-grid. But unless there are radical changes, we are going to end up with a lot of on-grid home and business energy storage.

          • juxx0r 5 years ago

            There is a revolution coming.

      • mick 5 years ago

        yep we will pass the hat around for them

  3. John Bromhead 5 years ago

    “From July 01 this year, the rate was cut again, to 6.05c for electricity that, it has been pointed out, is then sold on to non-solar households for 25.2c/kWh”.

  4. patb2009 5 years ago

    none of this is easy.

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