Opposing the rule to charge solar owners a fee to feed-in to electricity grid

July 3, 2017 at 10:49 pm Leave a comment

The Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) is considering allowing a charge on solar owners for feeding their electricity back to the grid. We think this is grossly inequitable and very problematic for reducing emissions and continuing to encourage take up of solar renewable energy by households and businesses.

The following submission was made on the rule change:

I speak as Convenor of Climate Action Moreland. This submission should be considered as a group submission on behalf of the members of Climate Action Moreland and the Moreland community generally.

Currently around 9 percent of households in Moreland have installed solar panels. The reasons people have chosen to install solar systems are a complex mix of economic reasons to reduce electricity expenses and social reasons to address climate change and contribute on a personal level to emissions reduction.

The City of Moreland encourages the uptake of residential solar systems as part of the Zero Carbon Evolution program to reduce community CO2 emissions by 22 percent by 2020.

Climate Action Moreland is extremely concerned regarding the possibility of an AEMO rule change allowing for the introduction of a solar export to the grid fee from residential and business solar power users.

Such a fee targets one set of power producers: residential and business solar PV owners, while large power generators (mainly fossil fuel based) will remain exempt. This is an unfair and inequitable impost on small generators and a distortion to the electricity market.

Solar power avoids substantial health, environment and climate costs associated with fossil fuel power generation. The social impact of how power is generated needs to be taken into consideration with regards to any new fees. Export to the grid fees for solar owners would penalise them for reducing socialised costs to health, environment and climate impacts.

Solar owners are being paid less than the wholesale rate for the power they produce. Solar tariffs need to take into account the social contribution that solar systems make in avoiding emissions, in efficiency savings to the grid, in producing power at point of use. We welcomed the Victorian solar feed-in tariff introduced from 1 July 2017 that incorporated a component for social and climate positive impact by small scale solar generators.

We should also recognise that during extreme heat events when power usage peaks, solar PV reduces demand peaks, and wholesale prices, and moves the absolute peak from the late afternoon to early evening. This is a network benefit not recognised in any solar tariff. Placing a fee on solar export contradicts this benefit and penalises solar users.

The impost of a fee on exporting solar power to the grid may reduce the demand for stand alone solar PV installation in the short term, although it may increase the demand for existing solar owners adding batteries, or installing new solar systems with batteries and the number of people opting to leave the grid all together. This will only increase the death spiral of traditional utilities and make vulnerable grid users even worse off.

Many homeowners on fixed income, such as pensioners and superannuants, have installed small solar PV systems specifically to reduce and minimise their electricity bills, through generating offset income from their solar feed-in. Imposing a fee on solar feed-in will proportionately affect these people to a greater extent than regular solar households where people are employed and have regular incomes.

On equity and social impact the impost of a fee on small scale solar generators feeding in to the electricity grid should be rejected.

John Englart
Climate Action Moreland

Reference: Solar Citizens: Tell the AEMC To Stop The Solar Swindle

Entry filed under: renewable energy, solar power. Tags: , , .

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