Consumer groups are joining the fight in court against a proposal by South Australia’s main utility to charge homes with solar installed extra for the network.
Earlier this year, South Australia Power Networks (SAPN) revealed their plan to charge homes with solar an extra $100 each year to use the network, as apparently they were contributing to network costs instead of reducing them.
The charge was rejected by the Australian Energy Regulator(AER), however SA Power Networks has taken them to court over the issue.
The network operator has been accused ‘unfairly targeting solar homeowners’ in court, after their appeal to overturn AER’s decision.
The court action will be joined by consumer groups who see the tariff as “unnecessary” and “discriminatory”, and say the solar charges will cause even more problems for the network if it goes ahead, as more customers will be obliged to move to solar and off-grid.
The Total Environment Centre stated that the charge will “cause long-term reputational damage to SAPN itself and is likely to accelerate the flight of solar and battery consumers from the grid, creating more of a cost burden for legacy grid-reliant consumers,”.
If the solar charges do get through court, it is likely other network providers will follow in suit, according to Mark Byrne from TEC.
“We consider it likely that if SAPN is successful in its appeal, other networks around Australia will seek to introduce similarly discriminatory tariffs on solar customers, increasing their costs and slowing the introduction of a decentralised and renewable energy-based electricity system,” said Mr Byrne.
He said that TEC’s role in court will be to demonstrate that under no circumstances can electricity rules allow for networks to discriminate against homes with solar.
Solar Citizens will be supporting TEC in court, solar consumer group funded by Energy Consumers Australia, with around 90,000 members.
The national Director of Solar Citizens, Claire O’Rourke, says that SAPN’s solar charges were their latest attempt to discriminate against people with solar.
“This is a brazen money grab from SA Power Networks who want to target solar homeowners, and are again trying to push through unfair fees onto the solar community by any means possible,” she said in a statement.
This court action is one of many protests and legal issues involving network costs within Australia.
The solar industry is also arguing against Australian network tariff changes that will further discriminate against solar homes.Watch Full Movie Streaming Online and Download
Many states have higher fixed charges, in particular Queensland; houses consuming 1MWh of power a year pay on average 72c/kWh, in comparison to the 4c/kWh wholesale price.
According to critics, the markups through various mediums are unjustified and unsustainable.
Some type of ‘solar tax’ is being considered by New South Wales networks, which will involve a surcharge on exporting rooftop solar to the grid.
Over the next 20 years, the number of households with solar in SA is expected to increase five-fold over. This could mean that the states demand could be met by rooftop solar some days, within 10 years.
The states power needs could be provided solely by renewables by 2034-2035, inclusive of large-scale clean energy sources such as solar PV and wind power.
Photo courtesy of Takver.