Sunday, September 29, 2013
Solar Ripoff Continues
The Queensland Government is between a rock and a hard place in trying protect consumers from sky-rocketing electricity costs caused by ridiculously high solar feed-in tariffs. Because the solar panel owners now represent such a large voting block it is politically impossible to roll back the tariff as evidenced in West Australia's recent backflip on their proposed cuts. On the other hand Campbell Newman has to placate the 80% of angry users who will be paying up to $276 a year so their neighbours can have free power. Instituting the rip-off-your-neighbour solar rebate scheme must be one of the worst policy decisions by the previous incompetent Labor government and unfortunately the pain will be felt for many more years.
TRADITIONAL electricity users are copping a $167 million-a-year bill to subsidise those with solar panels.
The huge cost of recovering payments to householders for feeding power into the network from photovoltaic systems has been revealed in the latest Energex annual report released last week.
The scheme will add about $32 to the average Queenslander’s annual bill this year – rising to $67 next year and $276 by 2015-16.
In the report, Energex chairman Shane Stone said changing consumer behaviour, including the increasing use of solar, is also pushing up bills in other ways.
“There is reduced consumption of electricity which, in turn, means the mostly fixed costs Energex faces have to be spread over a smaller chargeable base.’’
The amount paid by Energex in feed-in tariffs to property owners with solar panels in 2012-13 was more than double the $73.9 million the previous year.
That is despite the incoming Newman Government – elected on a promise of reducing the cost of living – moving quickly in July 2012 to end the Solar Bonus Scheme which paid householders with solar panels 44c for every kilowatt of electricity they generated into the grid.
It was replaced with an interim 8c/kW scheme until the middle of next year. Existing customers, however, will continue to receive the 44c until 2028 unless they sell the property. The energy retailers pay an average 8c/kW on top of the base subsidy.
The Government has yet to decide if the scheme will continue beyond mid-2014
A report by the Queensland Competition Authority earlier this year found: “There is no compelling evidence to support a regulated, mandatory minimum feed-in tariff for customers in the South East Queensland retail electricity market.’’
It recommended retailer-funded feed-in tariffs of between 7.06c and 14.05c per kilowatt for Ergon Energy customers, depending on their location.
Queensland has the highest solar take-up rate in the country, with 290,000 households installing panels so far.