Solar tariffs good news in Vic

Victoria’s residential solar owners have cause to celebrate, with a Victorian government announcement that feed-in tariffs for solar power will rise from July 1 next year.

Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio today introduced multiple feed-in tariff rates based on the time of day – peak, off-peak or shoulder.

This brings solar feed-in tariffs more in line with current pricing of mains grid power, Ms D’Ambrosio said. She said it is also the “most cost-effective and fairest system available” to compensate solar households for the energy they produce.

“Victorians should be fairly compensated for the power they generate – plain and simple.

“This is the first time the tariff has been increased in the last 6 years, rising by approximately 20 per cent.”

The revised scheme will also reward solar households with a payment for their environmental value.

The scheme builds on the major findings of the Essential Services Commission’s Final Report into the Energy Value of Distributed Generation tabled in Parliament last month [September].

Domestic solar lobby group Solar Citizens has been quick to praise the move, pointing out it puts Victoria in a leadership position relative to other states in terms of feed-in tariff rates.

“This is a first for Australia and indeed the Victorian Government is leading the world with this announcement to better value the benefits of rooftop solar or distributed renewable energy,” Reece Turner, consumer campaigner for Solar Citizens said.

“These changes will ultimately lead to solar owners receiving more value from the clean, efficient electricity they provide to the grid and increase the incentives for people to add solar which is providing cheaper, cleaner electricity to all consumers.”

Mr Turner said that though the changes will result in “relatively modest” gains for solar owners, they “set the stage for a fairer and more reflective assessment of the value rooftop solar brings to our grid.”

This includes providing clean energy during times when demand and costs are higher, he said.

“Coupled with battery storage, rooftop solar also has the potential to provide a more robust, decentralised electricity supply. Until now, these values have not been realised.”

Mr Turner said the new policy is a stark contrast to the “flailing” policies in other states, singling out NSW for its zero minimum price feed-in tariff and a proposal by the South Australian regulator to remove the minimum feed-in price.

He said the Queensland government also is “sitting on” a draft report it commissioning into a fair price for solar, and that the report failed to recommend any changes to the status quo.

The next stage for the Victorian government is to look at how investment in local distributed generation can reduce future costs of network poles and wires. The draft report by the Essential Services Commission is due to be delivered to the government this month, and the final report in February 2017.

  • Documents relating to the True Value – Distributed Generation inquiry can be read here

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