POWER PUNCH: Clean energy advocates are warning that electricity bills will rise in 2017 for customers of the NSW Solar Bonus Scheme ending December 31. Photo: FileDubbo residents who made the city Australia’s solar capitalfour years ago are being told how to avoid “average bill shock of around $1600” after the NSW Solar Bonus Scheme shuts down at the end of the year.
Solar Citizens, Alternative Technology Association, Total Environment Centre and Community Power Agency have released a new report that suggestshowsolar households can avoid biggerelectricitybillsin 2017.
Solar Citizens’ Reece Turner said146,000 solar homes in NSW on the bonus scheme were facing an “average bill shock of around $1600” next year.
“By taking some simple steps this bill shock can be reduced significantly,” he said.
Report author DamienMoyse identifies five ways that households can “make the most out of their solar”.
He suggests households “get theright meter, use more of your solar electricity, thinktwiceabout gas, getthe best electricity deal and considermore solar or battery down the line”.
The bonus scheme ends on December 31 this year, as legislated.
Eligible customers will continue to receive payments until the end of the year.
The NSW Department of Industry, Resources and Energy,is also telling solar households to investigate product options and metering as itmoves from gross to net.
Retailersmay offer to install a “smart meter” that can continue acting as a gross meter and then be remotely changed over to a net meter on December 31, it says.
Under net metering, a household uses the solar electricity itgenerates and sends any “overflow” into the grid.
Customers of the bonus scheme will receive feed-in tariffs from retailers once it ends.
In June the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) found that a fair and reasonable value for for solar electricity exported to the grid wasbetween 5.5 and 7.2 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh).
IPART’sdecision took intoaccount factors such as the “benchmark range is for generation only”.
Early customers of the bonus scheme are currently getting60 cents per kWh.
The IPART finding has prompted MrTurner to suggest intervention.
“Retailers are currently paying around a third the price of grid electricity even though solar is cheaper to transport on the grid, saves retailers from bidding in the wholesale market and has other social and environmental benefits,” he said.
“The price for solar should be close to the market rate for retail electricity, at the moment its not even being paid wholesale price.”
The bonus scheme was successful in encouraginghouseholds and small businesses in NSW to install small-scale renewable energy generators.
The department reports that since the bonusscheme closed to new applicants, a further 174,000 households and small businesses have installed systems despite not being able to access thesubsidised feed-in tariff.
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