Regulator wants quick end to solar panel pay-as-you-go scheme

Published: July 8, 2023 at 12:45 a.m.

If it's up to regulator ACM, homeowners with solar panels will no longer be allowed to use the balancing scheme. If you deliver solar energy back to the grid, you can now offset that against the energy you purchase. But according to the ACM, this causes extra costs for those without panels.

That is one of the reasons why the regulator would like to see the scheme phased out quickly. That call comes a day before the House of Representatives debates a bill to phase out the scheme in six years from 2025.

Netting was introduced years ago to make the purchase of panels more attractive. Many homeowners have done so in recent years. But according to the ACM, the benefits are financed by those who do not have solar panels on the roof.

This is because energy suppliers incur additional costs for the transportation of returned power. And those transmission costs must be borne by everyone, including people who do not own solar panels.

Also, the price of electricity is often low at the time when homeowners are feeding power back. They may offset that cheap electricity against the electricity they use at other times, including those times when electricity is more expensive. That price difference is also financed by the people who do not have panels. According to calculations by the ACM, households without panels are therefore losing a few extra tens each month.

The regulator also sees other concerns. Because of the net-metering scheme, panel owners do not have to store the energy they generate themselves in home batteries or use it immediately. They can simply feed the power back into the grid. In addition, net-metering creates an additional burden on the already congested electricity grid.