Australians could be charged for exporting energy from rooftop solar panels to the grid | Solar power

Australian households with solar panels on the roof could be burdened for exporting electricity to the grid at times when it is not necessary due to the proposed changes in the national electricity market.

The recommendation is contained in a draft consideration by the Australian Energy Market Commission, with the aim of preventing “congestion” of electricity during sunny times, which could destabilize the grid.

The commission, which sets the rules for the power grid, said the change was necessary to connect more solar panels and batteries for the household to the power grid and to make the system fairer for all power users.

Benn Barr, the commission’s chairman, said the average solar home with a system between 4 and 6 kilowatts would still save about $ 900 a year in utility bills after the change, about $ 70 less than that currently.

He said it would cut bills for the 80% of households that don’t have solar as they no longer have to pay for solar export services that they don’t use.

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“We can decarbonize the electricity sector faster and cheaper if we connect more small solar customers and make it worthwhile for them to put in batteries,” he said.

“Within 10 years, half of all energy consumers will use energy options such as solar. We need to make sure that this seismic shift leaves no one behind because every Australian, whether they have solar power or not, deserves an affordable, sustainable energy system. “

The “traffic jams” are the result of a fundamental redesign of a network that is supposed to allow electricity to flow from large generators to distributed households and businesses, not the other way around. Around 20% of households – a total of 2.6 million – have solar energy, compared to 0.2% in 2007.

The proposal is being rejected by some solar household groups concerned about having to pay more for electricity than they expected when they installed photovoltaic panels on the roof. The consumer group Solar Citizens said this was “another handbrake for the energy transition in Australia”.

“As we shift our energy system and clean up our electricity supply, we need to promote more solar energy on the roof and not punish people for putting panels on their roof,” said the group’s national director, Ellen Roberts.

Barr said the alternative is to block people’s solar exports when the grid is under pressure, but that would cost more and mean less cheap renewable energy in the system.

Another alternative was to build more masts and wires to allow for more solar traffic. Barr said that would be “very expensive and would land on all of our energy bills whether we have solar or not”.

The commission’s draft consideration, released on Thursday, was in response to proposals from electricity distribution company SA Power Networks and welfare groups including St. Vincent de Paul and the Australian Council on Social Services, who had argued that non-solar-powered households could face unfair exposure, according to the latest news System.

Reciprocal prices were recommended to better reward solar and battery owners who feed electricity into the grid when needed, and new incentives that give customers more incentives to buy batteries or to set up their homes to consume the electricity they generate on the grid during peak hours.

These include power grid owners who offer their customers a menu of pricing options that could, for example, allow them to export electricity to the grid for free up to a certain level, or a paid premium model that guarantees consumers that they are ready to export during a busy period get paid times.

Energy Consumers Australia, which represents household and small business energy consumers, welcomed the draft decision, saying it should be the first step in a series of changes that put consumer needs first.

Managing Director, Lynne Gallagher, said any change that adds a cost to exporting solar at peak times should increase the benefits at other times as well.

“It is clear that the proposed changes will allow more consumers to get power on the grid and be rewarded for it,” said Gallagher.

The Clean Energy Council said the draft decision raised more questions than answers. His boss, Kane Thornton, said there was little detail about the terms and conditions of charges and how they would be implemented.

“We need to know if state and territory energy ministers allow grids to charge customers for exporting electricity to the grid, and if so, what customer protection is in place.”

Barr said power grids should “offer bespoke options, not blanket solutions”. If a network wants to make a change to solar exports, it needs to consult extensively with customers and get a transition plan approved by the Australian Energy Regulatory Authority.

He said the goal is to allow more Australians to install solar.

“We expect networks, in close consultation with consumers, to propose prices that can include options that do not require them to pay for exports,” he said.

The Commission will receive feedback on its draft statement by May 13th.

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