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End of the Solar Bonus Scheme

Over 5000 Tweed households got involved in the NSW Government’s Solar Bonus Scheme. The scheme required energy retailers to pay participants a ‘feed-in tariff’ of between $0.20 to $0.60 per kilowatt hour of renewable energy provided to the ‘grid’. The scheme ends on 31 December 2016.

In preparation for the end of the scheme, the NSW Resources and Industry recommends using the solar power you generate to meet as much of your home’s daytime energy needs.

Action 1: Change your electricity meter, if you need to

Call your electricity retailer to ask what type of meter is installed in your home.

If you currently have a ‘gross metering arrangement’ it sends all of your solar power directly to the grid. A ‘net metering arrangement’ will let you use your solar power in your home before exporting the remainder to the grid.

Some retailers may offer to install a digital smart meter that can continue acting as a gross meter and then be remotely changed over to a net meter on 31 December 2016.

Action 2: Shop around for a new meter and electricity tariff

Shop around and compare what retailers have to offer. Many retailers are offering meter upgrades for no upfront costs, and may seek repayment of those costs through other supply charges.

Key questions to ask electricity retailers include:
  • What type of meter(s) do I currently have?
  • Are you offering digital (smart) meters?
  • If I choose to get a digital (smart) meter:
    • Are there any upfront or embedded costs associated with either my new meter or the installation? If so, what are they?
    • Are there any exit fees if I move to another electricity retailer?
    • How can I access my usage information? Does this cost extra?
    • Is it a lock- in contract?
    • Will I retain my current Solar Bonus Scheme feed-in tariff until 31 December 2016?
  • What happens if I don’t change my meter?
  • What solar feed-in tariff are you offering after 31 December 2016?
  • What pricing bundle or product best suits me?

Background

Solar bonus scheme participants installed rooftop solar panels and, in most cases, a ‘gross meter’ was installed to send all solar power to the electricity grid.

If participants do nothing, from 1 January 2017 they will shift to the market rate (around $0.06 – $0.08 per kilowatt hour) for the solar power they provide to the grid.

Householders may be better off to use that solar power in their home as a cheaper source of power compared to the market rate for grid power (around $0.22c per kilowatt hour).

If households have a ‘gross meter’, they will need to contact an energy retailer to arrange for a ‘net meter’ to be installed. Some retailers are offering ‘smart meters’ which can be operated remotely by the retailer to function in either gross or net meter mode.

A net meter allows solar power to be used to meet power needs in the home first, and distributes any excess solar power to the grid to receive the market feed-in tariff.

Check out the drop down boxes below for more ideas about smart energy use.

Energy Saver Ideas

With the cost of energy increasing, it's not just for environmental reasons that it makes sense to improve the efficiency of our energy usage. Energy efficiency simply means using less energy to achieve the same result.

Council suggests a two-pronged approach to reducing your household energy consumption:

  1. Change your behaviour - this costs you nothing, and if practised regularly will deliver immediate and ongoing benefits
  2. Change your fixtures - doing so will often incur an up-front cost and any purchase decisions should be well-informed

Visit the Australian Government ‘Energy Made Easy’ website to compare your home power use and check if you’re paying too much for energy.

Please click on the headings below to expand/collapse the corresponding information.

Appliances
Heating and cooling
Lighting
Refrigeration
Renewable energy
Water heating
Last Updated: 20 May 2014