Is your Feed-in Tariff Changing?

Some state governments and electricity providers still offer preferential feed in tariffs, to provide a further financial incentive to switch to solar power.

The most common system offered today is called a net feed in tariff. With a net feed in system you use the electricity you generate and any excess is sold back to your electricity provider. Electricity can still be purchased at night, when you are not generating it. The saving is represented as a credit on your electricity bill. 

The rate you get for the energy you generate but you don’t use, i.e. sent back to the grid versus self consumption, will depend on:

  • the state you live in,
  • the date when your solar system was installed,
  • your metering arrangements and
  • your retailer arrangements.

The FiT rate you get may be funded by your state government, your energy retailer, or a mix of both.

State and Territory governments across Australia adopted different approaches to Solar Feed-In Tariffs, sometimes calling them a ‘Solar Bonus Scheme’ or ‘Solar buy-back scheme’.  But now although the situation is changing for some it still makes good sense to own a PV system or to install a new one. Read on to find out why!

Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales will finalise a number of their solar Feed-in Tariff programs at the end of 2016.

For households currently on these premium tariffs, now is a good time to start thinking about what this means, and what they should do.

South Australia and Victoria opted for net metering policies. With net metering, you use your own solar energy first (self consumption), sell to the grid what you are not using and only pay for the extra you take from the grid – which could reduce your overall electricity bill. 

This means that, when the feed-in tariff programs end, no metering changes are necessary. In these cases, the net meter can continue to operate as normal and customers can negotiate with their retailers to sell back exported energy at an agreed rate.

The situation is somewhat different for customers in New South Wales who opted for a gross Feed in Tariff ...

More than 140,000 NSW customers who took up either the 60 c/kWh or 20 c/kWh gross feed-in-tariff have been exporting 100% of the energy generated by their solar power system directly to the grid.

They will lose their government funded rebate when the program ends on 31 December 2016. So they could potentially be selling their solar energy to the grid for around 5-7c/kWh, and buying it back at the same time for the current rate with is at around 24-30c/kWh.

 

Although the premium tariffs are no longer in place, homeowners can still take advantage of owning solar power systems. There are a number of options customers can take:

Escape the last minute rush - do something now!

1. Shop around for the best FiT

Energy retailers are keen to retain you as an existing customer and to attract new ones. It pays to shop around for the best feed-in tariff. For NSW customers to avoid long queues and waiting times in the eventuality of a meter changeover rush, we recommend you start the process now.

Before accepting a changeover, it’s important to check:

  • Will you continue to receive your gross 60c/20c FiT up until the 31st Dec 2016, and then net from 1st Jan 2017? This is very important as there is still time to enjoy your current premium rate.
  • Will there be any changes to your existing supply tariffs?
  • Any other charges or changes you should be aware of?

In many states, compensation for excess solar power by electricity retailers is entirely voluntary, meaning that PV system owners must shop around to find a retailer that offers them a favourable rate – generally in the range of 6-10¢/kWh.

The purchase of your solar contribution to the grid is no longer referred to as a ‘feed-in tariff’ but instead is now generally known as ‘solar buyback’.

Because not all electricity retailers treat solar customers the same, it is important to understand the following:

  • What changes will apply to my tariff and contract condition be from next year?
  • What net feed in tariff is your energy retailer currently offering? – (Or solar buyback)
  • NSW customers should also ask them if they are able to help with the meter change over. How long will it take? How much will it cost?
  • Are there any other costs associated with the new FiT arrangement?

If you are not happy with what they offer – shop around for a more solar-friendly electricity retailer.

 2. Upgrade your solar power capabilities and beat rising energy costs!

If you have a solar power system that is 2kW or lower in capacity, this is a great opportunity to expand it – especially if you’re considering installing energy storage at a later stage.

5kW systems are now very popular with customers planning to install a battery system and with Solahart’s Interest Free finance packages, there’s no better time to upgrade.

Contact Solahart now and talk to one of our local friendly free energy experts. They will take you through the process and come up with an individual solution to suit your needs. 

3. Retrofit a Tesla Powerwall Battery System

Powerwall is a home battery that charges during the day using electricity generated from solar panels or when utility rates are low, and powers your home in the evening when the sun is not shining or when the utility rates are higher.

First generation home batteries were bulky, expensive to install and expensive to maintain. In contrast, the Tesla Powerwall lithium ion battery inherits Tesla's proven automotive battery technology to power your home safely and economically. Enabling you to maximise self-consumption of solar power generation by replacing electricity from the grid with stored energy from your PV system after the sun goes down, it is easy to install, completely automated and requires no maintenance.

Make the most of your high-value solar power generation by installing a Tesla battery system and you could also reduce the amount of energy you consume from the grid, by utilising stored power at night. 

 With increasing electricity bills it just makes sense to invest in a Solahart solar power system, as it offers home owners a chance to take control of their energy bills. 

In designing PV systems today, it’s not just about sending power back to the grid. It is about ensuring as much of the energy free from the sun generated by a PV system is used at home first, that way there are still great savings to be had.

4. Install a PV System

If you still don’t have a PV system, now is a great time to invest in one. There are still some generous incentives available which will reduce the up-front cost of your system.

With the right advice from your local Solahart dealer, who will recommend the best PV system to suit your needs, you too can significantly reduce your electricity bill by taking advantage of endless energy free from the sun.

 The following table is a quick overview of the current programs coming to an end in 2016.

State

Current status

Max Size

Rate Paid

Program Duration

Model

VIC - Transitional

Closed on 31 Dec 2012

5 kW

25c/kWh

until 31 Dec 2016

Net

VIC - Standard

Closed on 31 Dec 2012

< 100 kW

1 to 1 (@ retail tariff rate)

until 31 Dec 2016

Net

SA - group 4

Approved between 1 October 2011 and 30 September 2013
To be installed before 1 October 2013 (+ 120 days)

10 kW (max 45kWh/day)

16c/kWh + Minimum Retailer Payment (MRP)

until 30 September 2016

Net

NSW

Closed

10 kW

20c/kWh from 28 October 2010
(Prev 60c (From 1 July 2010. 66c))

7 years for 60c tariff

Gross

 

Get a solar assessment today

To find more about the available solar incentives and to get a free in-home solar assessment, just fill in your details or call 1300 721 984.

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