Queensland Legacy 44c Solar Feed In Tariff Rule Change Update

Queensland 44c feed in tariff - Solar Bonus Scheme

Image: moerschy

Solar installers and households/businesses on Queensland’s legacy 44c solar feed in tariff (Solar Bonus Scheme) should be aware of pending changes to the scheme.

Queenslanders that applied to install rooftop solar power systems before the 10th of July 2012 were eligible for a 44 cent feed-in tariff1. This generous rate is locked in until the 1st of July 2028 – assuming nothing is done to make a system ineligible.

Queensland’s Energex originally sent an explainer to solar installers about the consequence of a Bill concerning the legacy FiT in September last year.

Last week, the Queensland Parliament re-introduced a Bill to change the Electricity Act 1994 (Qld) that Energex says provides clearer rules. If passed in its current form, 15 February 2018 will be the date that the changes came into effect rather than the previously advised date of 15 June 2017.

Summarising the pending 44c feed-in tariff changes:

Solar Array Upgrades And Oversizing

Array upgrades on 44c feed-in tariff-eligible systems must not result in a solar panel array capacity that exceeds the total inverter capacity – so no more oversizing. For those who entered a contract to purchase additional panels that take the total array capacity above inverter capacity before 15 February 2018, eligibility will remain assuming the upgrade occurs within a reasonable timeframe and there is a current financial commitment that can be proven if requested.

Replacing Solar Panels

When replacing failed panels, every effort must be made to match the wattage of the panels being replaced. Where this is not possible, an increase in wattage of up to 5% across the entire array is allowable without impacting 44c feed-in tariff eligibility and without requiring Energex consent.

Above 5% will require consent, a new connection application lodged2 and will jeopardise 44c feed in tariff eligibility. Energex advises that in cases where multiple solar panels need to be replaced, it may be necessary to reduce the number of panels to stay within the 5% limit.

Adding Batteries

While battery storage can be added, the system cannot be configured in a way that could result in the battery discharging while the solar power system is operating or more electricity being exported than would otherwise be possible. A schematic will need to be included with applications demonstrating compliance with the rule.

Adding Another System

Any type of generating system added to the same tariff circuit and operating at the same time as the qualifying PV system (except during blackouts), or one that is able to export to the grid will result in the 44c feed-in tariff being forfeited. This is a clarification rather than a change to current policy.

Assuming the Bill is passed, Energex warns it will be actively monitoring to ensure compliance with the above.

The Electricity and Other Legislation (Batteries and Premium Feed-in Tariff) Amendment Bill 2018 can be viewed here.

Other Premium FiT Conditions

The following actions also make a system ineligible for the 44c feed-in tariff:

  • moving house
  • selling or renting your house where this results in a new electricity account holder for the premises
  • increasing the capacity of your inverter
  • closing your electricity account
  • getting disconnected

More do’s and don’ts regarding maintaining 44c feed-in tariff eligibility can be found here.

Footnotes

  1. Current feed in tariff rates in Queensland range from 10c – 12c
  2. Energex says a new connection application also needs to be lodged in these cases where a system is not on the 44c FiT
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.

Comments

  1. Wow I bet Energex must be really pissed off at the size of that locked in rate until 2028. Must be the most generous length terms in the Nation.

    Whoever agreed to that must have had a very long boozy working lunch. No wonder they want to retrospectively give themselves as many get out jail free clauses as possible !

    • David Brettig says

      persons who are on that a 44 cent rebate paid many times and helped pioneer and prove the scheme. as a result people now can feel confident and benefit from very cheap solar instalations that are currently on offer

      • I currently receive the Qld Govt 44c feed-in tariff plus an additional 5c from my current service provider. I have just received an offer indicating that my feed-in tariff goes down to the 44c and my usage charge goes up by 7c/kWh. All up increasing my costs by 60% plus. Is there a service provider that has a feed-in plus the 44c anywhere?

  2. Well my power rate just jumped 38%. By 2028 44c per KWh could be peanuts.

    Or on the other hand an alternate scenario…. by then our new dear leader of the Peoples Republic of Australia (PRA) may have reduced the supply rate to around 12-15c (where it belongs) with lots of new coal and nuclear generators like in the fatherland and zero cents feed in for all.

  3. So it looks like my dad’s inverter has packed it in 4 months outside warranty. Every installer to date only wants to do a complete re-install. He is on the 44 cent feed in (actually 55 cents). Did this bill pass? In which case we can only replace the inverter with a like one? Can you give me more info please? You are the only site I have found any info about this. Ringing the government was useless, they didn’t have a clue 🙁 .-.-.

    • Ronald Brakels says

      Hi Ken

      I’m afraid the rules are you can only replace the inverter with one of the same capacity if your father wants to keep his high feed-in tariff. Replacing the old system with a new one will also result in the high feed-in tariff being lost. If you explain the situation to installers you should be able to find one to replace the old inverter, but if you have trouble we can put someone in touch with you if you like.

      • Yep. I understand all that.

        We want to replace the Aurora 5KW inverter with the Fronius 5KW -AU (has 5+5 Warranty too) That is down rated to 4.6KW to retain the 55 cent feed in as per our contract with the gov. 99% of installers won’t do just the inverter. We have been trying since November last year. I have finally found 2 now that will. The first doesn’t return our calls or emails. So not much confidence there. Second one originally said they wouldn’t do it then I get a call from some call centre chick that was very rude and pushy. Also their price was much dearer. So once again, don’t feel comfortable with them. In the mean time I estimate Dad has lost over $1000 in bills and loss of generation 🙁 Our post code is 4305 .-.-.

        • Ronald Brakels says

          I have passed on your comment to Robert and hopefully he’ll be able to find someone to help you. Unfortunately he is away until Monday.

          • $5000 REC payments for new install to Inverter supplier and installer. No wonder no one wants to help do just a replacement inverter.

          • Ronald Brakels says

            Well, a typical 5 kilowatt system will get 83 STCs which are currently worth $3,027. For a 6.6 kilowatt system it would be almost $4,000. This means it can definitely be worthwhile to replace an old 1 or 1.5 kilowatt system, but only because they are also getting the benefit of a larger system. It won’t pay to replace a larger solar system if only the inverter fails.

            But if people have trouble finding someone to replace an inverter we can help them out.

    • Hi. Am on the 44 cent tariff but have 5or6 faulty Cells on a 3.5 klw Sys. One guy says replace all as ours is over 10 years but says keeping 3.5klw will allow us to keep the 44 cents. Another says 6.6 klw Sys is way to go but with a perhaps 9 cent tariff. Will a 6.6 Sys cover the 30 cent loss easily? Is 10klw the go as another said? Confusticated and befuddocked customer.

      • Ronald Brakels says

        Hi Peter, Ronald here.

        Because the QLD premium feed-in tariff will last for another 5 years the large majority of homes would be financially better off getting a 3.5 kilowatt system receiving a premium tariff repaired than replacing it with a 6.6 kilowatt system and losing the premium feed-in tariff. If you have all the old solar panels replaced that will be expensive because you won’t receive the government subsidy for solar that new systems receive, but provided you export a typical amount of electricity during the day you are likely to make it back. Because the premium tariff ends in 2028 you can use lower cost but still reliable solar panels for replacements. There’s a chart in our Solar 101 Guide showing the panels we recommend and their relative prices:

        https://www.solarquotes.com.au/solar101.html

        After the premium feed-in tariff ends you can decide if you want to keep your old system or replace it or – if you have the roofspace – add a second new system.

        If your daytime electricity consumption is exceptionally high it’s possible you could be better off with a larger system, but in that case I’d recommend one larger than 6.6 kilowatts.

        If you’d like us to put you in touch with someone who can help with your system, you can go here…

        https://www.solarquotes.com.au/quote/start/

        …enter your postcode and then click on “Repairs and Maintenance”. After that, answer the questions that come up as best you can.

        If you have any questions, please feel free to ask.

        • Thanks Ronald for that input. Much appreciated. I will peruse further. Are you any relation to Danny or Peter Brakels?

          • Ronald Brakels says

            We’re definitely related. Every Brakels you meet is a relative of mine. It’s a fairly unique name. There are quite a few “Brakel” in the world, but if they ain’t got the “s” on the end, they ain’t the real deal.

  4. Hi Robert,
    Just wondering if this Bill has been passed in Parliament?
    I have checked on the website, and there is nothing about this passing?

  5. We have been enjoying the44c feed in tariff for 6+ years since we moved into a new build in March 2013. Told we were eligible at the time but now Energex says we don’t qualify and won’t explain why we qualified before. Our builder completed documentation in 2012 – before the July cut off but it seems Energex are reinterpreting the rules as they don’t say they were wrong giving us the tariff in the first place. Looks like the future is to install batteries and not feed into the grid, just use self generated power as much as possible.

  6. Can you install a Stand-alone PV system to power a HWS and not lose the 44c FIT?

  7. Wife only had name on the emerged agreement. She passed away. I remain living in the house, as have been for the last 20 years. Now I need to change the addressee on the bill. Will Energex force me out of the scheme?

    • Ronald Brakels says

      You should be fine. Just explain to Energex what happened and you shouldn’t have a problem keeping the premium feed-in tariff.

      If there is a problem, I’m happy to help raise hell.

      • Gail de Vries says

        I have the same problem except mine has occurred through an impending divorce. I have already contacted my energy provider and they said the only way I can change the account into my name is through a Power of Attorney, from his solicitor. At this point my ex is not willing to do anything to make life easier for me, so like Richard, I would like to know how to go about changing the name on the account.

  8. Lawrence Coomber says

    Andrew G.

    Yes you can certainly design and install a PV Standalone Specific Circuit System for your HWS in addition to your existing On Grid System; but as always the devil is in the detail, and there is the right and the wrong way to design this type of project to both optimise and maximise its potential, and remain compliant in all aspects.

    Specific circuit Off Grid Solutions are commonplace particularly in commercial and industrial applications for all types of machines and loads in factories whose duty cycles are for daytime operations only. High overall power system efficiencies are the reward for getting these systems designs right particularly for customers with high feed in tariff being available, and this translates to considerable savings staying in the customers pocket.

    All the best with your project Andrew and if you need any advice moving forward, feel free to contact me at any time.

    Lawrence Coomber

  9. I signed up with AGL in 2010 at .52 k/w. We had a tenant last yr for a few mths who unbeknown to us changed energy provider. AGL won’t acknowledge my previous plan & my electrician said i am able to reinstate my plan until 2028??

  10. Lawrence Coomber says

    An important point further to Andrews question, is that installing an Off Grid Standalone System on your premises to power designated loads; that already has an existing On Grid Installation in place, is perfectly acceptable [and quite common in fact].

    Also STCs are claimable for this extra installation and it can be quite large up to a maximum of 100 kW total of all PV systems at the property.

    If a FIT is being paid for an existing On-Grid System it will not be affected by the addition of an Off Grid Solution of any scale up to the 100 kW maximum PV total.

    Summarising: If there is a 10 kW On Grid System installed on a premises, an Off Grid System can also be installed on that property up to a maximum of 90 kW for a 100 kW Total eligibility for STCs.

    Not many installers have experience or much understanding on this point however, and critically importantly is that the two systems [one On Grid plus one Off Grid] must be properly electrically separated and isolated, in every way, including separate MEN’s.

    This is a rapidly growing market sector in Australia for both Commercial and Residential and opens many doors for customers to dramatically reduce electricity bills.

    A Case in point: We start an install next week at a small suburban shopping centre on the Gold Coast with annual electricity bills around the $350,000 mark. Over 50% of that relates to commercial AC systems. There are no solar systems at this premises yet, so the appropriate system design was a maximum Off Grid PV solution for STCs [100 kW] servicing mainly two of the larger ACs.

    Every business in particular, can benefit through additional Off Grid Solutions being installed on premises, particularly for high current and rotating machinery.

    Robust, reliable and enduring, self contained solutions.

    Lawrence Coomber

  11. Gail de Vries says

    I am one of the lucky ones to have my solar power installed in 2012 and get the 44cent feed in tariff. The contract was put in my (soon to be ex-) husband’s name. I have found the agreement online and it says the contract is transferrable between spouses, but they don’t say how to do it. I’ve looked at the contract he signed and there is no information that could help me on there either. Can you help me please?

  12. I currently receive the 44c FIT. I am with AGL who have just advised that – “We’ve identified that you’re currently receiving both the 44c/kWh Queensland government scheme feed-in tariff and the 5c/kWh AGL retailer feed-in tariff.

    As you’ll no longer be eligible to receive the 5c/kWh AGL retailer feed-in tariff in addition to the government scheme feed-in tariff, we’ll stop paying you the AGL retailer feed-in tariff from 1 August 2022.”

    Nothing has changed in my home situation – AGL have just decided that they don’t need to pay for power.

    How is it legal that AGL can offer 0 cents on top of the gov FIT?
    Who do I switch to get away from AGL and still keep the 44c Qld Government feed-in tariff?

    • I’d also like to know if any other providers in Qld will continue to pay their FIT on top of the 44c Qld gov FIT. Not only is AGL reneging on its FIT, but its Tariff 11 is also increasing by near 25% come 1 Aug.

    • Ronald Brakels says

      I’m afraid, in their terms & conditions, AGL says if a property is receiving the old high feed-in tariff of 44 cents they won’t pay a solar feed-in tariff. I’ve just spoken with some people in Queensland and they say they can only get the 44 cent feed-in tariff and nothing from retailers. These people are pretty stingy and probably don’t miss a trick, so I suspect you won’t be able to find a retailer that will pay you a feed-in tariff in addition to the 44 cent one you’re receiving.

  13. I’m with AGL and have finally received a quote for energy valid from August 1. My current contract expires June 23(in two days time). I have been asking what the new rates will be ever since they sent their price ultimatum a month ago.

    They didn’t know them until June 15 and seemed in complete disarray. I was receiving 61c/kWh.(44c+17c). This is summarily reduced by the additional AGL 17c bonus.

    The “supply charge” is also increasing by 9c/day. Charges for energy remain unchanged. A strange way to increase the price of power without actually increasing the price of power.

    My brother who is in the same suburb and circumstances but with Origin received his “changes” letter over six weeks ago and they began July 1?

    Even stranger, all the Origin charges are almost identical with mine from AGL except for one.

    I’d suspect collusion but can you guess which rate is different. Correct: he remains on a solar feed-in of 49c/kWh which AGL tells me is impossible.

    How could AGL even tell me “all retailers have abolished additional provider feed-in rates” without collusion?

    Anyone phoned A Current Affair?

  14. Legacy 2-phase, 2 inverter, 10KW (2x5KW SMA), 44c solar bonus.
    Want to add battery.
    Every solar battery provider I have contacted tells me I must be prepared to kiss the 44c feed in goodbye.

    Can anyone put me in contact with an installer who
    a) services SW QLD (4223)
    b) installs suitable battery (leaning towards powerwall: one for each phase)
    c) knows how to do it to guarantee no loss of the $.44 solar bonus?

    • Jonathon Wedge says

      Damon – savings from a battery is the difference between your usage tariff and your feed-in tariff. For example, if you have a usage tariff of 30c/kWh and a feed-in of 10c/kWh the difference is 20c, which is what each kWh will save you.

      If your feed-in tariff is higher than your usage tariff (44c) then you’re losing money by using a battery.

    • Jonathon Wedge says

      Damon – savings from a battery is the difference between your usage tariff and your feed-in tariff. For example, if you have a usage tariff of 30c/kWh and a feed-in of 10c/kWh the difference is 20c, which is what each kWh will save you.

      If your feed-in tariff is higher than your usage tariff (44c) then you’re losing money by using a battery.

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