Queensland Cash For Battery Info Offer May Catch Out Some Installers

Queensland solar battery database

Image: StockSnap

The Queensland Government is establishing a home battery database and system owners are being offered $50 for their information. It may make some battery installers nervous and owners should be a little cautious too, but for other reasons.

As we reported last week,  the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) is currently in the consultation phase of establishing a national register of small-scale distributed energy resources – including battery storage and solar power systems. This will be known as the National Energy Resource Register.

However, the Queensland Government is moving ahead with their own database (battery systems only) until such time the national version is in operation. It is being established mainly for safety reasons, and in that regard it’s a fair call. For example, in the case of a fire, emergency responders may be at risk if the system is still live and they are unaware of its existence.

The database will also give Ergon Energy and Energex more information to work with in addressing demand and voltage issues in the electricity grid.

While the number and location of concurrent solar + battery installations in Queensland (and across Australia) have been tracked by the Clean Energy Regulator since 20141, battery retrofits to existing solar power systems haven’t.

The $50 offer was a little curious given Distributed Network Supply Providers Energex and Ergon Energy should already have this info – before an installer can integrate a battery, a connection application must be submitted and approved. That’s another important aspect to the database initiative.

Ergon/Energex state:

“Although there is a regulatory requirement to apply to connect a battery to our networks, we believe there are some battery systems that have been connected without our knowledge.”

If that is the case, then there may be a few battery installers in Queensland feeling a bit on edge about this scheme, as connection applications are usually submitted by the installer.

Privacy Concerns

$50 for what could be a few minutes work is a pretty good deal, but before Queensland battery system owners rush off to claim their cash, they should read the Terms and Conditions, which state in the Privacy section of the Ergon Energy version (the Energex version is nearly exactly the same):

“You consent to the use of your personal information as set out in the Application for the purposes of this Initiative, the National Energy Resource Register initiative and for similar initiatives that may be conducted by Ergon Energy or any of its related bodies corporate, the Queensland Government and/or your local government council, the Australian Government and Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO).”

(emphasis added)

While the general idea of a battery register may be a good one, an important point to consider that we highlighted last week is the privacy aspect of the National Energy Resource Register initiative is nowhere near being finalised or even half-baked. In other words, at this stage it appears a battery system owner can’t be 100% certain about what will be done with the information when it migrates from the Queensland database to the national one.

There also seems to be plenty of scope in the above for various parties to have a looky-loo at your details for undefined reasons, which may or may not bother you.

If the privacy aspect is of great concern to you, perhaps wait for the national register to be in operation and hope by that time that the privacy protections in place are rock-solid. If you’d like to have your say on how the national database will work and the protections provided, the consultation paper can be downloaded here (PDF).

If you’re considering withholding your details at this point, bear in mind the safety aims of the register – nobody wants to see fried firies. However, if you used a good installer who does things by the book, then Energex/Ergon should already have your battery system information. One way to help determine this is to ask your installer for the Network Connection (CX) number if you don’t have it on hand. You could also ask for a copy of the application to ensure the details are correct.

How To Get Your $50

For those who are prepared to part with their details and want to grab their 50 bucks:

You’ll need to supply your personal details, National Metering Identifier (NMI) that can be found on your electricity bill, battery system make and model, bank account details and battery system Network Connection (CX) number. If you don’t have the CX number, then contact your installer. If your installation company doesn’t have it or can’t access it, they may have some explaining to do to Ergon Energy or Energex.

Both Ergon Energy and Energex are encouraging owners to submit their details even if they don’t have a CX number (but it will be needed for the $50) and they will follow up with the installer. They don’t mention what will happen to a battery installation if it turns out there is no CX number to accompany it and the installer is nowhere to be found, or other scenarios.

Footnotes

  1. There have been approximately 1,445 concurrent solar + storage battery installations in Queensland since 2014, up until the end of January 2018 according to the Clean Energy Regulator. The Queensland Government’s press release says “more than 500” batteries are registered in the state. While strictly speaking 1,445 is of course “more than 500”, there may be a major mismatch between Clean Energy Regulator and Energex/Ergon Energy data, especially considering retrofit figures aren’t included in the Regulator’s numbers.
About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.

Speak Your Mind

Please keep the SolarQuotes blog constructive and useful with these 4 rules:

1. Real names are preferred - you should be happy to put your name to your comments.
2. Put down your weapons.
3. Assume positive intention.
4. If you are in the solar industry - try to get to the truth, not the sale.
5. Please stay on topic.

GET THE SOLARQUOTES WEEKLY NEWSLETTER