Solar customers face ‘bill shock’ when incentives end

Customers to face power bill shock as Government incentive schemes expire.

More than 275,000 Australians receiving subsidised payments for generating solar energy are in for ‘bill shock’ over the next six months, when the solar feed-in tariffs decrease by as much as 80 per cent.

Solar feed-in tariffs – state-based incentive schemes first introduced in 2010 – enticed about 1.5 million households to adopt solar power by rewarding them with as much as 60 cents per kilowatt of electricity generated and sold back to the grid.

However, with South Australia, New South Wales and Victoria ending their respective programs in the next few months, participating consumers are being warned to prepare for bill surges and to reassess how they use their generated energy.

“146,000 early solar adopters in NSW, particularly on the 60c Solar Bonus Scheme, will face bill hikes of $1000 or more from 1 January 2017,” says Reece Turner, from advocacy group Solar Citizens.

“More than 62,000 solar owners, who take advantage of the South Australian 16c feed-in tariff, which ends in October, will face bill shocks of around $380, whilst 67,000 Victorians on the transitional or ‘1 for 1’ scheme face bill increases of $680 per year from 2017.

“Early adopters need to have a plan about how to maximise their solar power by using timers, considering a shift to heat pumps or electric hot water systems and even preheating or cooling their homes.”

According to a report from the Alternative Technology Association, consumers can capitalise on their solar energy by obtaining a net meter (in NSW only), using solar instead of gas to power appliances, shopping around for retailers offering the best incentives, and installing a small battery to store power for later use.

Relevant customers should have received a letter from their state government or electricity retailer, but are advised to contact their retailer if unsure about how their bills will be affected.  

Read more at The Guardian.

What do you think? Is it fair to lure consumers and then remove the incentives? Or do you think the schemes have done their job?



    To make a comment, please register or login
    2nd Aug 2016
    A few corrections. First the bill shock may not be as bad as stated. Those on the 60c feed in tariff are already paying over 50c per Kwh whilst those who do not have solar generation are only paying around 22c per Kwh. Not sure how electricity resellers get away with that one.
    On 1 January people need to change their configurations so that they only export excess energy to the grid (net metering). That way they maximise what they produce. Clearly running electric heaters in winter and air conditioning in summer sounds like what is going to happen until storage batteries come down in price and put the final nails in the coffin of the coal industry. Cannot wait for that one........although the two sides of politics will get less political donations.
    Old Geezer
    2nd Aug 2016
    I've got some of my solar on the 60c feed in and I'm only paying the normal price for the power I use which is about the 22c your quote. I have some power on a net feed in tarriff and the rest on a gross feed in tarriff. It is actually cheaper for me to use my generator than to pay power from the grid already but when batteries become cheaper I will get some more batteries and take the whole system off grid.
    2nd Aug 2016
    In QLD the retailers are pushing this barrow, but getting knocked back so far, the 44c feed in is legislated to carry on until 1 July 2028, but new systems cannot get that rate.

    SO the retailers are trying to get "conditions" applied to the feed in tariffs', again they've got nothing so far, but one condition they are really nagging for is, a system that has batteries attached loses the feed in.

    Given Queenslanders hold their grudges against their pollies, and happily change governments mid stream, I don't see feed-ins here getting knocked off just yet.
    2nd Aug 2016
    I had heard Queenslanders were getting 5c per Kwh. 44c? Also, in NSW the feed in tariff was only ever guaranteed to last for 6 years so the end of this year is the end.
    STorage batteries? That is the future and the response to those who routinely used to crow about "baseload". At this time $11,000 for a battery is a bit rich so it looks like the coal fired government backed monopolies are going to get a pound of our flesh until battery prices come down. The end is not too far away though....although given the corruption in our governments it would not surprise me to see a 'availability charge' to continue cannibalising users. It will indeed be an interesting decade ahead for all so many reasons.
    2nd Aug 2016
    Hi Robin7,
    I hope there is no change until 2028! I live in a Retirement Village and we must have an 80% of units fitted with solar panels. It takes time to recover the installation cost and as you infer, woe betide the Government that changes the legislation.
    2nd Aug 2016
    People may find it is easier said than done to go off the grid if you live in suburbia.

    There will be a charge of some kind I have been told but I have not been able to find confirmation.
    2nd Aug 2016
    So what was the outcome of this in the election, clearly this is going to turn into another great rip off, until we can store, ie cheep batteries, or some new method of storing power, (do not laugh at that one) it will be hidden out there even now. Yet again greed comes to the front.
    2nd Aug 2016
    It's called accommodated corruption in the political system. Will not end until political donations of all sorts are made illegal. But just like taxing corporates and the rich this will also be put in the too hard basket so we are likely to get 'business as usual'. Welcome to Australia.
    2nd Aug 2016
    Feed in tariffs have always been immoral. Not only are they an example of the poor subsidising the rich, the only justification for them is the Global Warming scam.

    Good luck to those fools wanting to add batteries to their scheme. I think it is a great idea that should help get rid of the scam. Having lived with such a system I will laugh my head off at people who put one in to save money. Such systems are a money pit, & profitable only for those who flog or service them.

    I wonder if my bill, hugely more expensive because of the cost of these subsidies, will come back down to something more practicle. I can't wait for the rip off to end.
    2nd Aug 2016
    Clearly you believe that tax incentives to business is fair game but anything to promote renewable energy is "immoral". Normal view from the coalition.
    Looks like you missed out.
    2nd Aug 2016
    Hasbeen - you must be sure of your ground scientifically to make an assertion like that, "the Global Warming scam". Can you cite your sources? It might be of great interest those of us who think Global warming is real. If I'm wrong in my thinking then I would willingly put in a wood burner to heat this 3 degree house which is slowly killing me because I can't afford the cost of heating.
    2nd Aug 2016
    Has been, I hardly think this is a ripoff, or that it would influence your own power bill. We have to pay for our panels to be installed, and I would be very surprised if they ever paid for themselves. I don't know who gets these massive feedin tariffs, but I certainly don't.
    2nd Aug 2016
    When we see negative comments from disgruntled people about others having solar panels we must remember that the solar panel scheme was a government initiative which also allowed for very low interest loans to acquire the panels. Most, if not all, the complaining people appear to be those who did not choose to have solar panels installed, with or without the low interest loans. We all have choices and those without should really not complain about or covet thy neighbour who has panels and the huge accompanying energy savings as this is just sour grapes and envy. Right?
    2nd Aug 2016
    In Tasmania we receive 28 cents per kWh, and all of the power we produce from our solar panels is fed into the system. What we pay per kWh for the power we use is very difficult to work out due to the fixed charges that apply and the sliding scale of charges per unit we use. In summer we come out with a small credit, and in winter a substantial debit. My problem will be if the incentive is removed, or the feed-in tariff is significantly reduced as we have been informed it will be, how fair will it be if our feed in is taken very cheaply , but we are still forced to buy all our power from the company itself? Why does the solar power we produce not go to our own use? Originally it was my understanding that the SURPLUS from our panels goes to the grid, or the extra we need to use comes from the grid. I didn't realize that it ALL goes in, and ALL of what we need comes out of the grid at their prices.
    2nd Aug 2016
    You will need to spend your own money to change to a net metered configuration. That way you get first bite and anything left over goes back into the grid for the greedy coal owned resellers to take for nix. That's called 'business' I believe.
    2nd Aug 2016
    This is something they don't tell you about when they set you up! I'll bet they charge through the nose to do the change you speak of.
    Old Geezer
    2nd Aug 2016
    A gross meter can be rewired to become a net meter so ask around for an electrician who knows how to do this. Otherwise you will have to most likely rent a smart meter for what I heard would be about $90 a year which will be added to your bill. I have a gross/nett meter which measures both so will only have to have the gross redirected through the nett side of the meter come January 1 2017.

    2nd Aug 2016
    The peak charges for AGL in Queensland are increasing, but the daily supply charges are decreasing at a greater rate, so the overall bills "should" be less - haven't got the new bill as yet to confirm. Haven't had a bill since putting on the panels, they have paid for themselves, and have saved us over $1,000 p.a. besides for each of the last 6+ years. So, certainly can't complain.
    Old Geezer
    2nd Aug 2016
    I currently get a cheque every quarter for my excess power but by my calculations I will come out about even after the end of the year.
    2nd Aug 2016
    Well then, you are still laughin', Geez.
    2nd Aug 2016
    One complication in QLD to be aware of, is that new installations only get 5c per KW as feed in tariff. Also if by selling or renting your home the electricity bill is transferred to another person, that feed in tariff of 44c is lost forever. I have my house rented out temporarily and had to include electricity in the rent.
    2nd Aug 2016
    Totally unfair!
    2nd Aug 2016
    To whom and why - ?
    2nd Aug 2016
    Privatisation of energy has been a disaster for citizens and tax payers, with profit gouging and going off shore.
    A well managed production and distribution system in public hands should be able to manage the transition to non-carbon based sources, proper distribution at fair rates, and profits staying in the country to build new infrastructure as needed.
    Governments have become lazy, looking after the interests of their parties and themselves, instead of the Common Wealth that we entrust to them. Our system is called 'Responsible Government', but when was the last time a minister was actually made to be accountable for the failures of his/her department. They are operators, not genuine MPs.
    The mismanagement of energy in Australia means Japan gets our gas at a fifth of the price we pay. That gas is part of the national Estate. It is not private property, but belongs to all of us, so who legislated to give away our gas, with profits going out of the country?
    The iron ore market is stuffed by private companies playing games with OUR iron ore, which belongs to the National Estate. Who gives it away at knock down prices, so we gain next door to nothing, and the economy is turned inside out by unaccountable corporations. Don't ask who gets the profits!
    The same governments gave away our precious energy sector to foreign corporations. Why would we expect any better. They have no interest in us or in Australia. All they want is to grab our money and run. The government cheers them on their way. Foreign investment is great, they say.
    Can't do it without foreign investment they say, yet the Snowy Scheme, and all our other existing infrastructure was built by and for Australians because once upon a time, governments were made up of people who cared about our country, and they put in the work to get things done. Now we have to bribe most of them to get out of bed in the morning.
    We are paying for 40 years of neo liberalism.
    2nd Aug 2016
    You sound like ANOTHER one without panels. Right?
    3rd Aug 2016
    The comments relating to this subject is certainly "proof positive" that us citizens are being ripped-off every which way we turn.

    Everything is going up in price, and as an example look at the Fuel-pricing fiasco. The barrel price is still at virtually rock-bottom, yet we are now nationally paying around $1.25 per litre......what a bloody rort!

    It seems that every way we turn, every organization ( including the poxy Governments) are extracting an extra pound of flesh. ( Our Rates have just increased 4.9%, yet we are told that the CPI is around 1.9%)

    The sad part about all of this is that there is not a thing that we can do about, except grit our teeth and bend-over.

    It is now an historical fact of life that regardless of who or what you vote for, things will not improve, but just get worse, as each new bunch of anal opportunists grab for the cash to set themselves up ( before the cash runs out!)

    In the meantime, just to take our minds off our immediate problems, lets think like the "good ole boys" and see if we can start a war with somebody, at least that will theoretically solve the financial Deficit and make sure that the fat-cats have another opportunity to get-rich quick!!!!

    PS: Don`t forget to fill in your Census Form ( bare your soul ) or face a fine of $1800
    (they must think we are all getting paid like Politicians!)
    3rd Aug 2016
    All price rises should be tied to CPI. That way at least an honest CPI might be achieved.

    While pensions, wages etc are CPI determined but prices can rise as they see fit the CPI will never be an honest figure.
    4th Aug 2016
    Just using normal power and gas seems good, with over $300 per year coming off bills, which are very cheap to begin with.
    6th Aug 2016
    When I got my solar panels I went on a contract to sell back to the grid at 47.5c per KWH for the next 20 years. The ending of subsidies in Qld, NSW and Victoria doesn't affect me at all. I'm surprised to hear that others don't have a contract - surely that was the whole point of signing up in the first place, to have a guaranteed return for a fixed time? I got in a month before the ending of the subsidies and I'm sooooo glad I did! In the seasons where I don't have big power bills [Autumn and Spring] I get up to $300 off my electricity bills, and during the hot summers and freezing Canberra winters the deduction from my bills make them manageable. I understood my friends in Queensland were getting the big 60c per KWH off, also on a contract ... am wondering if the article above is a bit of an exaggeration, or if this is some other form of subsidy that came in after all the States ended the original incentives?
    15th Dec 2016
    Western Australia. We had solar panels installed just over a year ago. Our feed in return is 7 cents a kW and buy at 24 cents a kW. On average our 60 day bills have reduced from $650 to $150 (we use alot of power on a semi-rural property). The system will pay for itself in about 4 years and has an expected life of 20 years. We are happy that we took this step just before retiring as it has made a significant difference in our weekly expenditure.
    Can this work in a rental situation? Possibly. If the property owner can be persuaded to install a solar system the owner will increase the value of the property, get a tax deduction on the cost and have a more attractive property to let.
    12th Jul 2018
    Disclaimer: I am in the solar industry.
    Many of the people bought smaller systems, so the feed-in tariff is modest and their overall consumption at 27 cents per kWh makes up for it.
    A recent Client we reviewed - with a 1.4kW system earned about 80cents a day on 44 cents feed-in, when we checked the install, it is shaded by their own roof for a couple of months of the year, by placing a larger system (6kW) they earn less on 10.6 cents feed-in but that = $2.70 a day

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