$1,500 electricity bills coming soon in 3 Australian states due to solar feed-in tariffs rollback

By @vitthernandez on
Solar Panels
Solar system installer Thomas Bywater adjusts new solar panels on the roof of a house in Sydney August 19, 2009. Reuters/Tim Wimborne

Thousands of Australian homes heeded government call to shift to clean sources of electricity to meet the Paris climate deal goal of less than 1.5 degrees by installing solar panels on their roof. However, the planned rollback of generous solar feed-in tariffs would result in thousands of Australian households likely getting electricity bills of $1,500.

ABC reports that more than 275,000 households in New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria from September 2016 to January 2017 would be affected once the  tariffs are unwound. In NSW alone, a new report estimated about 146,000 would be the hardest hit, warns Damien Moyse from the Alternative Technology Association.

The generous feed-in tariffs were introduced for a limited period to encourage more Australian households to install rooftop solar panels. Users who fed energy back into the grid were offered money. However, since a lot of the early adopters purchased the solar panels when it was still more expensive, the loss in income per year with the rollback of the feed-in tariffs would be about $1,000 a year in NSW.

With the rollback, the tariff would return to 5.5 to 7.2 cents per kilowatt hour from 60 cent in NSW. Moyse adds that NSW households which purchased bigger solar panels would be hit between $2,000 and $4,000 a year because the feed-in tariff in that state was stronger than in South Australia and Victoria.

In Victoria, the rollback will reduce the feed-in tariff to 5 cents from 25 cents per kilowatt hour, while in South Australia, it would go down to 6.8 cents from 16 cents.

Most of them are rural, regional and outer suburban area residents who do not belong to the high income brackets, says Reece Turner from Solar Citizens. He says the rollback shows there need to put in place sweeping changes to Australia’s national energy market.

Meanwhile, the Lyon Group, an infrastructure investor in Australia, plans to build the world’s largest solar plus storage project in South Australia in the next two years, reports Reneweconomy. The 300MW solar plant and 1.4MW/5.3MWh lithium battery storage facility would rise near Cooktown in far north Queensland. And then it would eventually sell the project to Conergy, a German company, reveals David Green of Lyon’s Group.

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