Monday, 16 May 2011

Solar scheme use surges ahead

Canberra Times
5 May 2011, Page: 2

Businesses and households are signing up in droves to the ACT's feed in tariff scheme with 868 new solar panel connections made to the electricity grid during the first quarter of this year. This compares with 485 connections made during the December 2010 quarter. The scheme pays ACT households a premium price for electricity they generate on their rooftop solar panels and divert into the distribution grid and has awarded more than $4.4 million since its inception in March 2009.

The latest Independent Competition and Regulatory Commission report says that interest in renewable generators has ballooned in the ACT since the Federal Government decided to reduce payments made under the Renewable Energy Certificate scheme. During the March quarter ActewAGL Energy received 1552 new applications from households and businesses wanting to connect their solar panels to the electricity grid up from 895 requests the previous quarter.

Environment Minister Simon Corbell said the results highlighted Canberra's strong interest in renewable energy. "We have seen a big surge this quarter and we are looking to see whether this continues", he said. Mr Corbell said the premium rate for micro generation would remain unchanged at 45.7¢ per kW this financial year to ensure stability for consumers and the renewable energy industry.

The average revenue reaped by an ACT resident signed up to the scheme was $407 during the March 2010 quarter which is dramatically higher than the average of $190 received during the June 2009 quarter. There are currently 4404 renewable generators connected to the distribution network. The Clean Energy Council recently issued the top 20 solar postcodes in Australia but no ACT suburbs made the cut. Caloundra City in Queensland took out the top spot. Clean Energy Council chief executive Matthew Warren said tariffs and rebates had encouraged Australian households to switch to solar.