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 !

  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.

  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?

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