Is AGL’s ‘Solar Savers’ 20c Feed-In Tariff A Good Deal?

AGL 20c Feed In Tariff - Solar Savers

AGL’s 20 cent feed-in tariff could be  a good deal for efficient homes with over 5 kilowatts of inverter capacity.

If I were to ask:

“Would you like a 20 cent feed-in tariff for the electricity your solar system sends into the grid?”

Chances are at least some of you would reply:

“A whole 20 cents?  That’s more than what I’m getting now, so yeah, baby!  Yeah!”

You may not reply exactly like that, but there are plenty of people who’d be glad to snag themselves a 20 cent feed-in tariff, as there aren’t many that high around these days.  If you’re interested an AGL Solar Savers plan can provide it to you — if you live in South East Queensland, NSW, Victoria, or South Australia and have a solar panel capacity of 10 kilowatts or less1.

But beware!  Retail electricity plans with high solar feed-in tariffs come at a high price!

Quite literally.  They charge a high price for the grid electricity you use.  Solar Savers doesn’t have the discounts AGL usually gives their plans, so you will pay more for grid electricity in return for its 20 cent feed-in tariff.  But if the amount of surplus solar electricity you export to the grid is high enough in comparison to the amount of grid electricity you use, you can come out ahead.  For households with over 5 kilowatts of inverter capacity Solar Savers compares well with other high feed-in tariff plans and it may still be worthwhile for those with inverters of 5 kilowatts or less.

Why I Am Giving AGL Free Advertising

The reason why I’m giving AGL free advertising with this article is because AGL themselves don’t draw much attention to their 20 cent feed-in tariff.  Information on it does appear on their site but it does not make it clear how tariff options depend on what type of electricity meter people have.  It also appears they often don’t make information about it available to online tools2 for comparing electricity prices3.  So there may be plenty of the people out there who could benefit if they knew about it.

It’s possible AGL gives it a low profile because they don’t want too many people taking up their Solar Savers plan and if demand rises they may stop offering it.  But it lasts for two years and has no exit fees, so if you get it now you will be set for a while without being locked in – and if it becomes unavailable to others you can always blame me for killing the golden goose.

However it increases how much you have to pay for grid electricity so it may be more of an aluminium goose than a golden one4.

If You Have A Smart Meter You Are Not Free To Choose A Standard Tariff

A drawback of the Solar Savers plan is you are not free to choose a standard tariff if you have a smart meter.  You will be limited to either a time-of-use tariff or a demand tariff5.  This is unfortunate as solar households are usually better off with a standard tariff.

The Solar Savers Feed-In Tariff Can Be Far Higher Than Usual

Here’s how AGL’s usual feed-in tariff stacks up against Solar Savers’ 20 cents:

AGL solar feed in tariff comparison

It’s over 75% higher everywhere except South Australia.  The precise percentages are:

  • SA:  23% higher
  • SE QLD:  89% higher
  • VIC:  77% higher
  • NSW:  80% higher

Grid Electricity Charges Are Higher With Solar Savers

Generally AGL residential plans come with discounts that reduce the cost of electricity.  Looking up comparable AGL plans, such as their Residential Saver that also doesn’t have an exit fee, I see the discounts you will miss out on are:

  • SA: 11%
  • SE QLD: 26%
  • VIC: 30%
  • NSW: 20%

Unfortunately, these discounts don’t apply to your entire bill.  They just apply to the kilowatt-hours you purchase and not the fixed supply charge portion.  They also don’t apply to all your kilowatt-hour charge.  Because AGL and most other electricity retailers are eldritch Lovecraftian abominations that dwell in dimensions with non-Euclidian geometry, they only apply the discount to the first 90%.  This means the actual discounts on kilowatt-hour charges are:

  • SA: 9.1%
  • SE QLD: 22.7%
  • VIC: 26.4%
  • NSW: 17.3%

If I express those figures as a percentage of the full price you have to pay and shove them in a graph we get:

Solar Savers kilowatt hour charges comparison

Because of the higher cost of grid electricity, Solar Savers plans will only pay for themselves if a home exports enough solar electricity.  Working out the point it will pay for itself isn’t too difficult for a standard tariff, which are unfortunately only available to homes that don’t have a smart meter.

There Is No Standard Tariff Solar Savers Plan For Those With Smart Meters

There are three types of electricity tariff in Australia:

  1. Standard tariffs:  These charge a flat rate for each kilowatt-hour of electricity used and are usually the best for solar households.
  2. Time-of-use tariffs:  The amount charged depends on what time of day the electricity is used and can be charged at peak, shoulder, and off-peak rates.
  3. Demand tariffs:  Households suffer an additional charge based upon how much power is drawn at certain times.

The type of tariff you can get with a Solar Savers plan will depend upon what kind of electricity meter you have.  You can only have a standard tariff if you don’t have a smart meter.  If you do have a smart meter then you can only have a Solar Savers plan with a time-of-use tariff or a demand tariff.  This is despite the fact that a smart meter is quite capable of supporting a standard tariff6.

Since the first of December last year all newly installed electricity meters have had to be smart meters.  So if you’ve had a solar power system installed since then you’ll have one.  (Unless you are still waiting for it to be installed.)  If you haven’t had a new meter installed since then, chances are you don’t have a smart meter — unless you are in Victoria where pretty much everyone has one.

AGL’s Website Does Not Make Tariff Conditions Clear — But Agent Christopher Does!

If you try looking up the energy price fact sheets for Solar Saver plans it is confusing. In Victoria where just about everyone one has a smart meter they have a standard tariff plan. In South East Queensland and South Australia where smart meters are rare they don’t have standard tariff plans.  To clear this up I contacted Christopher who is an Agent of AGL.  Agent Christopher explained the tariffs types available depend on what type of electricity meter you have and not what type of plan is shown on their site.  If you want to read my extremely exciting and not at all incredibly boring conversation with Agent Christopher I’ve put it below:

Chat with AGL

It’s a pity that AGL’s site isn’t clearer.  It would have saved me time and no doubt Agent Christopher has more important things to do such as make love to Vladimir Putin and foil the plans of beautiful women.  If only there were some way to inform AGL of the problem… I know!  Maybe if I shout loud enough they’ll hear me!

Hey!  AGL!  Every time someone calls you or uses your chat service it costs you money!  If you make the information about your Solar Savers plans clearer on your website you’ll save a few bucks!

Of course it’s always possible they don’t want many people using it…

The Solar Savers Break Even Point

If you are on a Solar Savers plan with a standard tariff in a state capital then the lack of discounts will cause every kilowatt-hour of grid electricity you use to cost you this much more:

  • Adelaide: 3.78 cents more
  • Brisbane: 6.37 cents more
  • Melbourne: 7.84 cents more7
  • Sydney: 5.50 cents more

But you will earn this much more in feed-in tariff for every kilowatt-hour of solar electricity you export to the grid:

  • Adelaide: 3.7 cents
  • Brisbane: 9.4 cents
  • Melbourne: 8.7 cents
  • Sydney: 8.9 cents

So in Adelaide you must export over 1.02 kilowatt-hours to the grid for for each kilowatt-hour of grid electricity you use for a Solar Savers plan to be worthwhile.  Because I’m in a graphy sort of mood today here’s a graph of the break even points for the four capitals:

Break even points for Solar Saver plan

As the graph above shows, in Adelaide you’ll need to send more electricity into the grid than you take from it for a Solar Savers plan to be worthwhile, while in Sydney you’ll only need to export solar electricity equal to 62% of your grid consumption.

I made Melbourne a lighter shade of blue than the other cities in the graph because this result is for a Solar Savers plan with a standard tariff which is only available if you don’t have a smart meter and almost everyone has one in Victoria.

Required Solar System Size

Households with electricity consumption that is around the average for homes with little or no gas uses will need solar power systems of roughly the following sizes to export enough solar electricity for a Solar Savers plan to be worthwhile with a standard tariff:

  • Adelaide: 5 kilowatts
  • Brisbane: 3.5 kilowatts
  • Melbourne: 5 kilowatts
  • Sydney: 3.5 kilowatts

So if your solar power system is around the required size or larger — while not exceeding the 10 kilowatt limit — it could be worthwhile checking to see if the amount of electricity you are sending into the grid is enough compared to your grid electricity consumption to make a Solar Savers plan worthwhile.  If you can, use information from over a full year to avoid seasonal variation.

AGL logo

I don’t know what AGL’s logo is supposed to be, but there is at least one person who doesn’t like it.

Solar Savers Plans & Time-Of-Use Tariffs

Because households with solar panels use little electricity during the day, if they are on a time-of-use tariff a large portion of the grid electricity they consume tends to occur during peak times in the evening.  This means they often pay more on average for grid electricity than if they were on a standard tariff.  This makes the discounts available with AGL’s other plans more valuable as they will save more money.  So, generally speaking, a home with a time-of-use tariff will need to export more solar electricity relative to its grid consumption for an AGL Solar Savers plan to be worthwhile.

Solar Savers Plans & Demand Tariffs

Because demand tariff plans have lower kilowatt-hour charges, discounts are less valuable and so less electricity may need to be exported relative to grid electricity consumption for a Solar Saver plan to be worthwhile.

AGL Solar Savers’ Value Depends On Location & Individual Circumstances

Generally speaking, if your inverter capacity is larger than 5 kilowatts and your solar panel capacity is 10 kilowatts or less an AGL Solar Savers plan is likely to be the best high feed-in tariff plan available.  This is because other retailers offering high feed-in tariffs often have a limit of 5 kilowatts for either inverter or solar panel capacity.  If your inverter is 5 kilowatts or less it’s less clear which plan will be best.

I’m not going to try to compare all the high feed-in tariff plans to attempt to work out which is the best for people with 5 kilowatts of inverter capacity or less.  That would be a lot of work and would probably annoy some people and result in electricity retailers sending even more ninja assassins around to my place to drink my beer, sit on my couch, and wear out my VHS copies of Ninja Turtle Movies.  Instead I’ll just give my impression of how competitive high feed-in tariff plans are for homes with inverters of 5 kilowatts or less in different regions:

  • South Australia — Lots of competition around.  Definitely check other high tariff plans to see if you can get a better deal.
  • SE Queensland — Less competition.  AGL’s Solar Saver looks like it has a good chance of coming out on top.
  • Victoria — Lots of competition.  I recommend shopping around.
  • NSW — Less competition.  You may find a deal better for you, but AGL’s Solar Saver looks good.
AGL Agent Christopher

This is my impression of AGL Agent Christopher. He gave off a strong Hugo Weaving vibe.

 

Footnotes

  1. Update 16 August: Some commenters have mentioned solar systems larger than 10 kilowatts have received that 20 cent feed-in tariff, so this may not be a strict limit
  2. No, I am not an online tool.  (A tool is something useful.)
  3. It is possible I am mistaken about this since I am not computer savvy.  As far as I am concerned computers have only gone down hill ever since they started making the switches too small to be seen with the naked eye — from 30 paces across the room.
  4. Aluminium is still a valuable metal: $2.74 a kilogram at the moment.  So when you get 10 cents for taking an aluminium can to a South Australian recycler you’re receiving 2.5 times the market price of the metal in it.
  5. Update 16 August: It has been mentioned in the comments that people with smart meters have received an AGL Solar Savers plan with a standard tariff, so it may be possible despite what I was told by AGL.
  6. Back at the end of last century we were told electricity reforms would lower prices and increase consumer choice.  It looks like they’re aiming for zero out of two.
  7. This is in the centre of Melbourne.  The figure may be slightly different in the suburbs.  The figure for Sydney is also from its “centre” and may be a little different in the western suburbs.
About Ronald Brakels

Many years ago now, Ronald Brakels was born in Toowoomba. He first rose to international prominence when his township took up a collection to send him to Japan, which was the furthest they could manage with the money they raised. He became passionately interested in environmental matters upon his return to Australia when the local Mayor met him at the airport and explained it was far too dangerous for him to return to Toowoomba on account of climate change and mutant attack goats. Ronald then moved to a property in the Adelaide Hills where he now lives with his horse, Tonto 23.

Comments

  1. What about us poor buggers in the west,the east cost takes our gst but we don’t get a mention on power in any discussion

    • Not a Lefty Victorian says:

      Hey Brian. The previous GST deal for WA was truly unfair. But please drop the parochial attitude about the East Coast. NSW has propped up this country and paid for your infrastructure many years before the mining boom. Try and look at the big picture.

    • Ronald Brakels says:

      Hi Brian

      There’s no retailer choice in WA, so I’m afraid this article is of no interest to you. Western Australia dodged a bullet there, as it has pushed up prices here in the eastern states. Unfortunately WA has made mistakes of its own so its situation is far from perfect. Very far. Maybe I should stay in WA for a few months. That would get me writing about the place more.

  2. I just signed up for AGL’s single rate no discounts tariff. According to energywatch.gov.au it is cheaper than any AGL plan with discounts. I also looked at Alinta’s 30% discount offer only available to”Goswitch” subscribers. All “discount” plans were more expensive than the no discount plan. The rate at which they hike the price of electricity and then “discount” it is ridiculous. Even AGL’s website shows the no discount plan is cheaper than the “discounts” How they get away with this is unbelievable.
    Also my problem is Essential Energy in country NSW claims they need to protect their wires by only allowing me to export 2Kw from my solar system. So higher feed in tariffs don’t work here.

    • Ronald Brakels says:

      Hi Dave

      With a 2 kilowatt export limit the 20 cent feed-in can be more valuable than most would expect. Because solar systems spend most of their time operating well below their full capacity for a number of reasons include clouds, the sun being low in the sky, and heat — and with reasonable self consumption of solar electricity during the day — it can still be worthwhile for a fair number of homes, even if their panel capacity is 5 to 6.6 kilowatts..

  3. Christopher says:

    so if I was to put the shed on its own dedicated power could I still keep my 55 cent plan on the main house and have the sheds dedicated solar system do another 20 cents?

  4. I contacted AGL a couple of days ago because my current 12 month Savers plan comes to an end in September so I wanted to know well in advance what plan I would be offered but I wanted to know quickly so that if needed I could switch to another retailer (in SA can only switch each 1/4) .

    I ended up speaking to a person in AU (before that was hopeless OS operator) and I told him I want to know what plan I will be on and if not happy I will switch. Telling them this always seems to carry some weight because even some profit is better than no profit for them.

    He looked at my account and mentioned this 20c Feed-in plan and we looked at the losses of no discount versus extra feed-in from 16.3c to 20c and it was a no brainer that I will be better off on this new plan as I’m mainly an exporter and don’t take much from the grid and what I do is covered by my exports anyway.

    The import rates are the same as my current Solar plan including daily supply charges and they are variable rates anyway. From a rough calculation I’ll be better off up to $160 per year on this new plan. They were able to apply the new plan on the phone the day I called to take affect that day so bill will reflect old and new plan. I still have the 10 day cooling-off period if I need to use it.

    So for me I’m better off and as Ronald states it depends on your situation. If you are mainly an exporter it works in your favour.

  5. Ronald,
    As with all electricity “deals”, the devil in the detail is how much the bastards are charging for power and supply.

    Is there any chance of listing AGL’s “Solar Savers” charges for each state, please?
    i.e. Standard and Daily Supply charges for each state; and
    Peak, Shoulder, OffPeak and Supply charges for each State.

    And one person annoying AGL, ( you :> ) rather than a pile of us ringing for at least some aspects of the charges, would make life easier for everyone (except yourself, of course, but presumably that is why Finn is paying you the vast sums of money he is (or not). :>

    Thanks.

  6. Check out Energy Australia plans. They generally give high pay on time discounts and have lower daily supply charges and only $0.25 fixed rates with a $0.125 fit. Works out better than Click and Red energy.

    • Dave, As Ronald has pointed out, electricity rates really are “horses for courses”.

      The article is aimed at users with high feed-in (which often translates to low grid consumption). With these users on a Time of Use tariff, the low FIT kills the Energy Australia deal. In EA’s case there is no discount off the Daily Charge (which is higher than the AGL rate) other than the EA rate where it is slightly lower, but you are locked in with a two year contract with that one.

      It is interesting that the “swings and roundabouts” of the different rates between electricity retailers, at the end of the quarter often result if a price differential of two-thirds of five-eighths of sweet bugger all.

      As Ronald points out, AGL’s Solar Saver plan is worth looking at for consumers with low grid consumption and high feed-in.

      Being a cynic, you can wonder whether the two year limit on the AGL plan is relying on consumers to be too slack to change when shunted onto another of their plans at the end of that period. A further concern is whether this rate is an effort to put the financial squeeze on pesky, smaller retailers who are currently offering a higher FIT, but do not have sufficiently deep pockets to allow them to withstand a couple of years trying to compete on that level of FIT.

  7. Thank for the article Ronald. I signed up a few months ago after seeking an exemption to the stated 10kW (inverter) limit. The exact written response from the AGL resolutions team member, let’s call her ‘Trinity’ in keeping with The Matrix theme, was: “The 10kW solar system clause is applicable to government solar bonus schemes, which do not apply to you.” The $50 sign-up bonus credit was a nice little extra. Let it produce.

    • Ronald Brakels says:

      That’s good to hear. I’ve added a footnote saying 10 kilowatts may not be a hard limit.

  8. Dennis Kavanagh says:

    I just swapped to AGL Solar Savers – Victoria offer AGOMR00161. Based on my interval data over the last year, they should pay me about $1,550 a year which will be about $800 better than what GloBird was going to pay. That is amazing. Thanks Ronald! 🙂

  9. This kind of plan probably would not make sense in Winter in Melbourne, but might make sense in Summer. I’m wondering if it might not make sense to change plans (and possibly providers) in April and October to take advantage of the best plan for each time of the year.

  10. So far so good for me in Brisbane (5kW inverter / 6.6kW of panels).
    I’m sure the plan isn’t sustainable for them long-term, but if AGL and Origin want to race to the bottom, I’ll happily take advantage.

    • The more we export I think places less stress on the grid infrastructure because the power created does not need to run all over the state and probably more so just local use of it.

      I can very imagine that the various bodies associated with the electricity distribution network might give AGL a discount on daily supply charges because of less stress on transformers etc.

      That’s just a guess on my part. The whole thing is so convoluted and no-one seems to know how it all works.

      • Stewart, But isn’t AGL both a distributor AND a supplier?
        And don’t forget your period on the AGL offer only runs for two years before they transfer you to another of their plans if you hang around with them.

        As mentioned earlier – possibly the deal is all about putting the squeeze on smaller retailers without deep pockets, potentially leaving the larger retailers to resume their plundering some time down the track.

        • I think AGL is also involved in other areas of generation and who knows what but PowerSA here is the distributor but I get back to the point that it’s so convoluted and complicated so who knows what parties are involved and in the end it’s what it costs or earns me that I’m concerned with.

          Your squeeze theory is interesting. Time will tell I guess, I hope that does not eventuate though as we need the competition amongst the players involved. My Solar system will have paid for itself in another 2 years if things stay as they are now so I’ll be happy 🙂

  11. I am in Brisbane and have a 3.3kW PV system, and have moved over to AGL 20c FIT around 3 months ago. Am better off around $180 per year.
    It all depends on how much you export vs how much you consume off the grid.

  12. I just changed over to this plan today. It should make a huge difference in summer as I sometimes produce over 40 times what I use from the grid, though about 12 kWh of that has to offset the daily supply charge, as well as sub-standard performance in winter.

    I wonder if this would affect the economics installing a small battery, as the cost per kWh used is approaching 40c here in Victoria.

    • Ronald Brakels says:

      Glad to hear you were able to sign up with about 12 kilowatts.

      • I think you may have read that a bit too fast Ronald – he’s saying he needs to generate 12kWh to cover supply charge.

    • When you reach seniors age, you’ll receive a rebate for any Service/Connection charge > usage charge!! It’s amazing in summer, and it’s calculated BEFORE any discounts.

  13. James Fulleylove says:

    Hi Ronald,

    Great article, however, I am not sure what you mean by “If You Have A Smart Meter You Are Not Free To Choose A Standard Tariff”

    I have a newly installed smart meter and am on the AGL 20c Fit with a flat rate standard tariff.

    There is no way I would have signed up if it was time of use. I live in QLD by the way.

    • James,
      Hopefully I am not “telling my grandmother how to suck eggs”, but:
      Are you sure you have a Smart Meter, rather than a standard digital meter?

      If somebody comes out to your property each quarter to physically read your meter, it is the latter.
      If not – then my apologies for questioning.

      As they say in the classics: “Just sayin’ “

    • Ronald Brakels says:

      Looks like Agent Christopher may not have been correct. Glad to hear you were able to get the 20 cent feed-in tariff with a standard tariff. Hopefully others will as well.

  14. 80c PFiT!!!

  15. Grace du Prie says:

    Thanks for this info. I changed over to this plan (Qld). Compared ALL charges and indeed, missing out on the 5% discount I got from Origen is not a problem when getting 20c FIT and basically the same charges.

  16. Hi Ronald. Are you able to comment on the situation in the ACT?

  17. We’ve just installed a 10kW system across 2 phases (SA). We’re a family of 5 and have high-ish after dark usage …. my initial conclusion based on our estimated usage/export implies the AGL essentials (16.3c FIT & 31.4c Grid usage, no discounts) still looks like it will work out cheaper than the Solar Savers…. I suspect unless you’re a very low grid power user, “IT’S A TRAP!”.

    Re above comments, we’re on a new 3-phase Smart Meter & have a fixed (peak) rate @ 31.4 (AFAICT)….

  18. Grace du Prie says:

    In Qld (with the Solar saver 20c FIT) there were these charges:
    Peak U: 25.5 T33: 21.8 NO Solar Meter Charge (Unlike Origen 6.43 p.d); Supply Charge Peak: 0.99; Supply Charge T33 3.0. After comparing with Origen it worked out about the same. But….20 c FIT instead of 14 c.

  19. So on a AGL 20% pay on time discount but signed up to solar which will go in soon and will loose my discount

    Is solar worth it or should I cancel ?

    • you can have solar and up to 28% pay on time discount, but with a lower feed in tariff than what is discussed in this article..(figures quoted are in SE Qld)..compare your figures given by your installer and location against the offers from the electricity retailers.. I have had solar for 10 years, and at the current cheap prices of new systems, I can’t possibly see how solar is not worth it..

    • Ronald Brakels says:

      Hi Tony

      You can keep your plan with the 20% pay on time discount if you wish. There’s no need to loose it. Your feed-in tariff just won’t be as high.

      Solar can definitely pay for itself if you have an unshaded roof:

      https://www.solarquotes.com.au/blog/solar-payback-times/

    • Laurens Bloem says:

      I crunched the numbers and for me it is not really worth it going to this plan: it would save me $35,= a year.

      However, getting solar in the first place made by power bill for the year go from $2,500 to $500. So I’d say yeah, it’s worth it.

      I paid $7,250 so after that’s earned back it’s free money and a cleaner planet. Can’t argue.

  20. I had solar panels put on two weeks ago, with the smart meter already installed. I am in NSW. I just contacted AGL about this plan. They looked up my address and said I can choose the standard tariff if I like. Not sure why this is different to what you wrote in the article, but I’ll take it!

    • Ronald Brakels says:

      Glad to hear it. It seems AGL is telling different people different things. I’ve added a footnote saying people have said it is possible to get a standard tariff.

  21. I’ve signed up to AGL’s solar savers plan today (subject to 10 day cooling off period). I’m in Vic and I’m staying on a flat rate (rather than time of day) plan – that didn’t seem to be an issue. We have a remotely-read smart meter and 9kw peak (panels) solar. They tell me I can change plans if I want within the 24 month period – so presumably before next winter I can go to a plan with lower FIT and import rates if I want. Origin used to let me do that, but bizarrely on the Origin website it now tells me I don’t have solar panels (despite FIT being on my estimated bill & previous bills). We ran into Origin – distributor communication problems a couple of times. Hopefully AGL will be better…

  22. Laurens Bloem says:

    Well, I’m in Adelaide and crunched the numbers. The tariffs are the same as my current PowerDirect plan, except for the feed in tariff which is 16.8 currently.
    I do however have a 14% prompt payment discount for the full usage.

    Adding it all up, over the first year of having solar panels (7kW panels with 6kW inverter), AGL would have saved me $35,= (what they give me more for my surplus solar they almost take by not giving me a discount).

    Call me rich, lazy or both but I’m not going through the hassle of changing plans for a movie ticket a year.

    Still really good information, keep it coming!

    • Laurens,
      And interestingly, PowerDirect is a wholly-owned subsidiary of AGL!

      • And just noticed: in ProductReview.com.au, of 166 reviews, a remarkable 155 reviews (93%) rate PowerDirect as “Terrible”.
        (Then again, with AGL, of 1,152 reviews, 984 (85%) rate the company as “Terrible”.)

        It would seem the guiding hand of AGL is well and truly present in the DNA of PowerDirect, with the latter managing to “outperform” the parent in what is an already commendable level customer (dis)satisfaction. :>

  23. Grace du Prie says:

    Just wanted to let you know that I cancelled my contract with AGL. (Was still in the cooling off period). Firstly; the guy that signed me up did not get my email address right so I had to call yesterday to get the information. The contract with charges was a bit hidden in the email but when I found it I noticed that the guy who signed my up also lied to me. I asked at least two or three times about the Solar Meter Charge and was told there was none. On my contract it WAS there and higher than with Origin. There was also another charge that had not been mentioned. All together, they lost my trust and I cancelled. Origin was much more professional in their approach when sending me the information etc. And it was all correct. So I’ve asked them if they have a better offer in order to keep me when my contract finishes in Sept. Otherwise Click have also offered a deal that is not too bad.

    • What is this Solar Meter Charge about? No such thing on my AGL Solar plan.

      Also what is the “another charge that had not been mentioned” ? which you also have not mentioned on this forum.

      • What amazes me is I can’t find anywhere on AGL’s Energy Price Fact Sheets about the “Solar Meter Charge” but there definitely is one. It’s 7.7c a day I believe. Check your bill, I bet it’s on there.

        I don’t know how they’re allowed to charge it without disclosing it within the plan though, as not all Energy Providers charge it.

        • I have a PowerSA meter that was installed same day as my Solar system was. This was before the new rules came into being in Dec 2017 when the supplier is responsible to provide, read and maintain it.

          They won’t dare try to charge me a meter fee as I will just contact the Energy Ombudsman again. I will have my bill early in September and will check.

          The new rules on meters is TOTAL MESS. What are the actual rules around it? If you switch supplier are you required to have a different meter installed as a condition? It’s just ridiculous.

          If that charge is on your bill? If so and not in the contract you had agreed with then call them and ask to be put through to the Resolution section. See what they say and if not happy mention you will contact the Ombudsman to sort it out. 7.7c/day works out to be about $28 a year.

          Agent Stewart signing off.

        • On the AGL fact sheet I have in front of me, there is this:
          Other fee
          Annual – $28.11
          Solar Metering Service Charge is a daily charge of $ 0.077 (GST inclusive) and may apply if you have a solar PV system and a solar meter.

          • I see it there now, I wish I saved a copy of the Fact Sheet two months ago when I switched to this plan because I am certain it wasn’t listed on there then (I specifically looked through it to find information regarding “Solar Meter Charge” and there definitely wasn’t anything), but they have since updated it and I can no longer access the other one.

            Either way, yes it is there and it is 7.7c inc GST per day. Any little thing they can charge for *rolleyes*

          • Ok, so it’s actually a “Solar Metering Service Charge” rather than a “Solar Meter Charge”. That’s making more sense now with the “Servicing” word included.

            So AGL are slapping a charge on for reading and maintaining the meters if it’s one of theirs.

            Is this actually legal? Does anyone know what the Law states with the meters and who pays for the servicing.

          • I actually just found a copy of the AGL Fact Sheet I signed up too. It does mention Solar Metering Charge but says:

            “The daily supply charge displayed on this fact sheet includes your metering charges, which will appear separately on your AGL electricity bill.”

            The Daily Supply Charge listed is $1.10 inc GST.

            The newest AGL Fact Sheet states:

            “Annual – $28.11 – Solar Metering Service Charge is a daily charge of $ 0.077 (GST inclusive) and may apply if you have a solar PV system and a solar meter.”

            and their daily rate is $1.0890 inc GST.

            So essentially, does that mean my Solar Metering Charge is 1.1c per day?

  24. Grace du Prie says:

    Your Market Contract has no fixed term and includes variable rates, which can change at any time with notice to you.
    Electricity usage Unit GST excl. GST incl.
    T11 General Usage 1c/kWh 25.50 28.050
    T33 controlled load 2c/kWh 21.80 23.980
    *CL33 supply charge c/day 3.00 3.300
    Feed-in tariff 3c/kWh 20.00
    Feed-in tariff c/kWh 20.00
    Solar metering charge c/day 7.00 7.700
    *Solar metering charge c/day 7.00 7.700
    Supply charge c/day 99.00 108.900

    This is a copy and paste from my AGL plan summary. I put an asterix in front of the charges I asked about and was told they were not there but then when the plan details were emailed they suddenly were there anyway. Also, the somehow doubled some things in this info (like FIT/and SMC) All this did not make me feel confident about their way of working.

    • Ronald Brakels says:

      I think all Australians who have to put up with electricity retailing are justified in not feeling confident about how electricity retailers work. It would help if electricity plans were simple and easy to understand. But this sort of thing is common among retailers.

      • Grace du Prie says:

        I had two guys from Alinta at my door and compared the Origin and AGL plans (see above) with them and gave them a sale. They were still cheaper than the others (keeping in mind the difference in FIT. But it’s hard work!

  25. Just swapped my “custom” Savers plan with AGL over the to Solar Savers plan. The Daily Supply Charge is a fraction less, the Usage charge is a tiny fraction less, I don’t get the pay on time discount any more and even adding on the option to plant trees to offset my actual grid usage, I still come out ~$271/year better off.

    The original fact sheet I had from AGL also gave the option of using Tariff 15 which would have bumped our saving up to $583/year but that option was a mystery to AGL staff when I rang them and despite telling me they would follow up, I’ve heard nothing more.

    • Tariff 15 is what brought me here – I have been trying to work out what exactly “Demand Charges” and Tariff 15 actually are.. Still haven’t quite worked it out yet though.

      • Basically, if you stay under 10MWh/year, you get the cheaper rate. If you go over 10MWh/year, you pay the “demand” rate which is higher than the standard rate. Most households would be under 10MWh, especially if you have solar. The AGL consultant I spoke with suggested that over 10MWh is mainly commercial properties.

  26. There has been some discussion, above, re AGL’s “Solar Meter Charge”
    Mystery resolved. Following is screendump from chat with AGL.

    Welcome to AGL Energy, this is Chris. How can I help?

    Greg
    at 11:31, Aug 24:
    Hi Chris. Does AGL charge a “Solar Metering Charge with its 2c Solar Savers Plan, please?
    Greg
    at 11:32, Aug 24:
    Correction: 20c

    Chris
    at 11
    There is no solar metering charge with this plan, Greg.

    Greg
    at 11:34, Aug 24:
    OK. Thanks. Were you aware on the Solar Quotes Blog this is being discussed. “What amazes me is I can’t find anywhere on AGL’s Energy Price Fact Sheets about the “Solar Meter Charge” but there definitely is one. It’s 7.7c a day I believe. Check your bill, I bet it’s on there. I don’t know how they’re allowed to charge it without disclosing it within the plan though, as not all Energy Providers charge it. . . . . . . . . Do you know where the confusion is, please?

    Greg
    at 11:36, Aug 24:
    ??

    Chris
    at 11:39, Aug 24:
    Just to let you know Greg that the sola rmetering charge would actually depend upon the meter configuration. Yes, the solar metering charge is 7.7 c/day. If the charge gets applied, it would certainly reflect on the bill.

    Greg
    at 11:40, Aug 24:
    But you just said “There is no solar metering charge with this plan, Greg”. So what is the story, pls? What do you mean about being dependent “upon the meter configuration”?

    Chris
    at 11:43, Aug 24:
    If the meter configuration is a bit sophisticated, the solar metering charge is going to get applied. Please allow me 2-3 minutes so that I can get this clarified for you.

    Chris
    at 11:48, Aug 24:
    Thanks a lot for your patience, Greg. I am sorry for the delay.

    Chris
    at 11:49, Aug 24:
    Just to let you know, the solar metering charge is applicable in case of customers who are in Queensland, only.

    Chris
    at 11:56, Aug 24:
    I haven’t heard from you for a while. Are you still there?

    Greg
    at 11:57, Aug 24:
    OK Chris. that clarifies that, thanks. But If I was in Qld I wouldn’t be a happy traveler if this wasn’t clearly highlighted to me up front. (i.e. “These are the figures, but we (AGL) are going to hit you for the equivalent of 35kWh of feed-in, on a plan where we (AGL) are highlighting our high level of FIT.) Not a good look, mate.

    Chris
    at 12:00, Aug 24:
    I completely understand that, Greg. However, this is how, the solar maters have been designed at this point of time.

    Chris
    at 12:03, Aug 24:
    Except for Queensland, the solar metering charge is not applicable for any other state.

    Greg
    at 12:07, Aug 24:
    Poor old solar meters :> Don’t want to drag this on any further, but it would seem that you are saying there is nobody in AGL’s IT Department who could have bills amended to refund, say, 7.7c per day? AGL shouldn’t be blaming “sophisticated meters”, but rather having a good look at itself by giving the impression it is happy to gouge the equivalent of 35kWh feed-in (from the unwary (in Queensland, anyway). But thanks for the info, mate.

    So, in summary, it would seem the answer to the “Solar Metering Charge” mystery is that Queensland smart meters are just too sophisticated for their own good. :>

    Now Ronald, presumably you are so embarrassed with your comment above “I think all Australians who have to put up with electricity retailing are justified in not feeling confident about how electricity retailers work” that you will be writing to AGL, issuing a grovelling apology, begging them for their forgiveness for your cynicism . . . . . . . . or maybe not??

    • Ronald,
      What has happened to the middle of my comment, above, please?

      I did actually lodge a comment that was (at least vaguely) intelligible.

      Thanks.

      • Ronald Brakels says:

        I’ve had a look and I can’t see an original comment different from the one above, so I’m afraid I don’t know what happened. I would guess some kind of glitch has occurred and I hope it doesn’t happen again.

      • Ronald Brakels says:

        Hello Greg

        We received your email, which was sent to me, and I have replaced your truncated comment with the complete comment. I can now see what the problem was. There were closed angular brackets that snipped out the whole middle section. Sorry about that.

  27. OK Ronald, not sure why the tardiness in rectifying my butchered comment above, even though it hopefully clarified the mystery surrounding the AGL 7.7c “Solar Meter Charge”.

    AGL’s response to my on-line query (which I thought would be the easiest means of sorting out the conjecture) was (summarised):

    AGL: “There is no solar metering charge with this (20c Solar Savers) plan.

    ME: “Well why are some people saying there is?”

    AGL: “Just to let you know Greg that the sola rmetering charge would actually depend upon the meter configuration. Yes, the solar metering charge is 7.7 c/day. If the charge gets applied, it would certainly reflect on the bill.”

    ME: “What do you mean about being dependent “upon the meter configuration””?

    AGL: “If the meter configuration is a bit sophisticated, the solar metering charge is going to get applied”.

    ME (summarised): Whaaaaat!

    AGL: “Just to let you know, the solar metering charge is applicable in case of customers who are in Queensland, only.”

    ME (summarised): What the hell is a “sophisticated meter”, then?

    AGL: “. . . . this is how, the solar maters have been designed at this point of time.”

    ME (summarised): Whaaaaat?

    So, according to AGL, it would appear the 7.7c per day Solar Metering Charge is applicable in Queensland only (apparently not because of any deliberate intent by AGL to claw back the equivalent of 35kWh of FIT, but rather because those darned electricity meters in Queensland are just too “sophisticated”.

    So now we know!

    • Thanks for posting it again Greg. I wondered what had happened!
      The blog forum seems to have lots of issues. Now when i post I don’t see “Your comment is waiting for moderation” like it did before. It just takes me back to top of the page, so I edit post thinking it’s some issue including URLs in the post and eventually it states “Slow down”.

      Anyway seems the AGL help desk are in training to be politicians as very difficult to get sensible straight answers to question put to them.

      Sophisticated meter = Just an excuse to rip off more money from customers.

  28. Don Firth says:

    Referring to an earlier thread of thought in this column….
    I asked Powershop what the difference would be between standard and time of day tariff structure and the very nice lady said she would do all the sums for me from my last 12 months of data. She got back the next day and came up with (from memory) 35c/month or about $4 per year in favor of staying on time of use tariff. I export about 3 times that which I buy in…with about a 10Kw system total.

    SOooo it is not a no brainer that standard is better than TOU. And AGL also confirmed that TOU metering was available for the 20c Solar Plan. A quick calc. showed I would save ~$800/year, but my Powershop supply is 100% green and I don’t trust AGL’s “we will plant some trees for you”. Green energy from Origin (aka fracking kings) and AGL is a bit of an oxymoron

  29. Don Firth says:

    If you live in the NSW area around the ACT you are serviced by ACTewAGL not AGL and they don’t offer the 20c solar plan, only 8c so anyone in that area are better off with powershop…and 100% green

  30. Thought provoking article!

    I have a few questions that i’d like thoughts on:

    – noting that we are in (Endeavour Energy Flat rate peak and Controlled Load 1) with 2 adults and 4 kids.

    Current state: NNE 3kw system (2.8kW string inverter) Average 38-42 kWh/day inc 400L hot water tank using between 20-24kWh/day. (Built 1988)

    Future state: 1.7kW solar tile on west (afternoon) aspect. Adding 5kW of PV panels on clear North aspect for all day sun. Gas Hot water, (Building 2019) Pool connected to CL1.

    1. Would the AGL 20c feed in work for in both cases?
    2. How does Sonnen Flat compare?
    3. Are there online calculators to enter my usage data to model some of these variables.

    • Ronald Brakels says:

      Hello GLO

      1. If you can get the AGL 20 cent feel in tariff it will apply to all the solar electricity your home exports.
      2. I will look into the Sonnen Flat in the future. What I’ve seen so far indicates you are better off with solar and no battery.
      3. There is the SolarQuotes Solar Calculator:

      https://www.solarquotes.com.au/calc5/

      PVWatts site is also useful for determining how much output you are likely to see from a solar system:

      https://pvwatts.nrel.gov/

  31. David Cornish says:

    Have you guys had any information on the company called Solar Warehouse Australia who operate from Holden Hill in Adelaide? I have a quote from them for ….a 5.4kw system using18 300w panels coupled to a 5kw Solaredge inverter for $6,300…They seem like a good reputable company….just need some reassurance about their reputation and whether this seems like a fair price before signing on the dotted line

    • Ronald Brakels says:

      Hi David

      A 5.4 kilowatt system for $6,300 comes to $1.17 a watt. I don’t know what kind of panels you are getting but for a system with a SolarEdge inverter that seems to be a reasonable price as they are a premium brand with a 12 year warranty which is the longest for any inverter I am aware of.

      Solar Warehouse has good reviews on our review page here:

      https://www.solarquotes.com.au/installer-review/solar-warehouse/

      If you want to see what else is available you can get more quotes.

  32. Interesting article. I currently have a 1.5 kw system and am on a relatively low FIT of 8 or 9 c pkwh but I have a pay on time discount of 32%.

    I have a quote from a reputable local installer to put another system on 5.4 kw their one panels and optimised inverter for around 6 and a half thousand. That would take me to a 6.9kw combined system.

    Is it worth getting the new system and going with the solar savers or should I just stay with the large discount?

    • Ronald Brakels says:

      Provided the installer does good work and the panels and inverter aren’t rubbish, then a larger solar system can definitely pay for itself — provided it’s not significantly shaded. This can still be the case even if you decide to stick with your current feed-in tariff and discount although usually it would make sense to get a higher one. I presume you have 3 phase power which generally means you should be free to install as large a solar system as will easily fit on your roof.

  33. Joseph Lee says:

    I’m considering Origin’s 20c/kwh feed in tariff plan. I’m leaning towards time of use charging to take advantage of off peak hot water charges for my 300 litre tank. I have a 6.6kw solar in Sydney producing 40 kwh/day in November. My last bill was $350 but had the benefit of a 1.5 kw solar system. Is that a reasonable plan?

    • Ronald Brakels says:

      Hi Joseph

      I’m afraid Orign’s 20 cent feed-in tariff is only available for a limited time after purchasing a solar system from Origin. They often don’t make this clear. But AGL’s 20 cent feed-in tariff should still be available. (Maybe that’s what you meant — but it doesn’t matter.) Usually a home with a 6.6 kilowatt-hour system is better off with a standard tariff than a feed-in tariff, including hot water use. Note that you can get a controlled load for your hot water system with a standard tariff in Sydney which can be as little as 13 or so cents per kilowatt-hour but is usually higher for most plans.

      If you don’t have a smart meter you will have to get one installed to have a time-of-use tariff and in Sydney once you get one you may not be allowed to go back to having a standard tariff. So beware of that.

  34. I was considering switching to AGL Solar Savers but in SE QLD I am getting the Alinta 28% plan that offers only 11c per kW export but you pay only 18.346 per kW in (with discount). So the nett is 7.346 cents per kW Alinta vs AGL at 8.05 cents. Add a daily use charge much lower than AGL at 1.054 vs 1.089.

    So all up the Alinta plan is 0.739 cents cheaper on a kW/Daily Charge basis.

    • Which is a fair way of thinking except it depends on the circumstances.

      For me, who uses next to no electricity during the day, the 20c FIT far outweighs the discounted electricity usage amount.

      After our first 1/4 with the FIT, we are negative $88.

      • Works for me too. My system consists of a 6.48 kW Solar array and a 5kW inverter in SA and for the Spring 1/4 (Sep-Oct-Nov) and the AGL “Solar Savers” plan of 20c FiT I have a credit of $128.55 for that 1/4 alone.

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