Are AGL’s New Solar Packages a Trick or a Treat for Aussie Consumers?

mousetrap and solar panel

Are AGL offering a great deal or bait?

Just to prove that energy giants can move with the times like the rest of us, AGL Energy, who only a few months ago described solar household tariffs as a ‘scam‘, has decided roll out a couple of new solar energy products.

One is happening now — a (sort of) solar leasing offer — while the other a promise to offer battery storage by the end of the year.

Similar leasing-style models have been very successful in the USA, and AGL join a long list of companies who have recently rolled out solar finance packages such as Energy Matters, Tindo and Sungevity. The option to pay for the energy produced, rather than the initial cost of the panels removes the hurdle of finding $5-$15k upfront, but cunningly locks the solar owner into a very long term contract with AGL. 

According to the company website, customers will “…pay a fixed monthly amount for this energy. Plus, any extra energy generated during the day is yours to use for free.

We install the system, monitor it, and ensure everything is running as efficiently as possible. You don’t need to worry about warranties or maintenance for the duration of your solar Smart Plan – we take care of it all,” the website continued.

So the ‘leasing’ product is nothing new in the Australian market. Indeed Finn wrote about such schemes last year urging consumers to approach them with caution. However it is the emergence of competitively-priced battery storage that will have solar energy fans licking their lips.  AGL’s Marc England, head of AGL’s New Energy Division (love that tag), is very bullish on the availability of battery storage from his company in the very near future.

“We will have storage in the market this year for customers who would like it,” he told RenewEconomy in an interview.

He added that such while battery storage will be a “niche product” for the foreseeable future, it will develop into a “mass market” by the 2020s.

“There are lots of forecasts out there – our view is that for time being they will be niche products, there will be early adopters that want them (battery storage). It will be the early 2020s before it is a mass market. AGL wants to be at the front of that curve so we are looking at a number of storage solutions – what their products are, and how they fit in to market.”

There are a number of wrinkles to be ironed out before battery storage can be offered. The chief one being whether or not the storage will be included in the solar power purchase agreements mentioned earlier.

We’ve been quick to berate the big power companies for their attempts to crush the renewable energy sector, which has proved to be a more nimble, sustainable and healthy energy alternative. So should we congratulate the company for its innovative AGL solar storage models? Or is it the case that they simply want to use solar as the bait to lock customers in for decades?

Comments

  1. Certainly looks like an “if you can’t lick ’em, join ’em” scheme. Nevertheless, battery storage is the next stage of the “if you can’t stand ’em, ditch ’em” movement.

    Some time back, we asked about the pros and cons of Samsung’s airline-suitcase-sized All in One ESS Storage System…. which combines a PV Inverter, Battery Inverter and Lithium-Ion Battery storage.

    No response from anyone. Still too new to comment on? No-one here selling the ESS, perhaps? 🙂

    We’re serious about this unit’s potential. Several of our SES systems will lose their ten-year high-tariff-rebate in less than four years. We’d like to move these rental properties off-the-grid and onto battery storage, once we know there’s a reliable, efficient product.

    We’d also like to ‘get-off-the-grid’, install a large SES system and purchase battery storage for our home property. Then… and only then… we’ll look at the Tesla.

  2. YesMinister says

    Whilst I can’t comment on current AGL deals, I’ve been dealing with the company for five years on the original 52c FiT and always found it honorable. Refunds (this is a 10kw system & I have another off-grid system to run the house) are in my bank account before I know it, in fact the first advice I typically get is an SMS message telling me about the transfer. Previously I was with Origin & getting that mob of bandits to honor their obligations invariably involved the Energy Ombudsman each quarter. Forget the ‘we usually pay refunds yearly’ crap. If its good enough for power companies to demand their money quarterly then its good enough for me to get my money quarterly as well.

    • ramjetski says

      I always thought that AGL were a bunch of crooks. I know that Origin are a bunch of cheap skates though.

  3. Ian Carter says

    I dealt with ACTEWAGL in Canberra for many years and was generally satisfied with the service, but when I saw how AGL were feathering their own nests while abusing farmers, using aggressive bullying tactics, where they were “exploring” for gas deposits using fracking technology that damaged agricultural land and polluted the invaluable underground water reserves, I decided AGL were parasites. Then the domestic prices of utilities doubled because they found overseas markets for the gas they were extracting from OUR country, Our piss-weak government allowed them to charge the same price domestically as they could sell for overseas. There was no alternative supplier in the ACT until recently when Origin moved into the ACT and made an offer. I accepted it to remove the taste of dealing with AGL from my mouth. As an age pensioner I have to be more careful about factors that influence my ability to manage my budget. If Origin do the wrong thing or I discover that they are indulging in unethical practises, I will ditch them. When I can sell my home and downsize, I will install solar hot water and solar electricity, and if the technology is available then, go off-grid. I remain with ACTEW, but wouldn’t waste my water on AGL if they were on fire.

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