Australian “Sun Tax” Suggestion Rebellion Begins

Solar tax in Australia?

A sure-fire way to rile Australian solar power system owners is to mention anything that even remotely resembles a “sun tax”. The Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) just did and the response has been quick.

In the AEMC’s recently released Distribution Market Model Draft Report, the Commission suggested it may be time to revisit a clause in the National Electricity Rules (NER)  that prevents a Distribution Network Service Provider (DNSP) from charging solar owners or other owners of distributed energy generators for the use of infrastructure to export electricity. While it also mentions benefits as well as costs to the network; it’s the latter that has raised hackles.

However, the AEMC stresses:

“The draft report is not intended to be a prediction of, or pathway, for future regulatory reform..”

While it might be just throwing ideas around to gauge reaction; the Commission may be getting an earful on this particular suggestion. Grassroots advocacy group Solar Citizens has stated in very strong terms it should go no further and is calling on the 1.6 million solar households across Australia to help ensure deleting the clause never gets past the suggestion stage.

“Retrograde Rules”

“This is simply more outrageous price gouging, pandering to the big power companies,” said Claire O’Rourke, Solar Citizens’ National Director.

“And, as usual, it’s the little guys who’ll suffer. Australian households and small businesses have done the right thing by going solar, taking back control of their power bills and producing clean energy for our electricity supply. They should absolutely not be penalised for this investment.”

The group has launched a petition directed to State Premiers and Energy Ministers, and is ecouraging Australian solar owners and supporters to sign it. At the time of publishing, the petition had gathered nearly 5,000 signatures.

“Everyday Australians are investing in the future of our electricity network rooftop by rooftop, meanwhile the AEMC is pursuing retrograde rules that will hold back modernisation and stop more people from going solar. The mind boggles!,” says Ms. O’Rourke.

This isn’t the first time the AEMC has taken a crack at a “solar tax” suggestion – its previous attempt was in 2013. Solar Citizens was there for that one too, gathering 28,000 signatures in opposition to the proposal.

In a related article on RenewEconomy, Total Environment Centre’s Mark Byrne warned that should such a proposal succeed, it could result in even greater uptake of battery systems and non-solar grid connected consumers having to “pick up the tab for guaranteed 5 yearly network revenues.”

The AEMC says it welcomes written submissions on any aspect of the draft report, which must be lodged by July 4, as well as individual meetings with interested stakeholders. With anyone who owns a solar power system that exports to the mains grid being stakeholders in this, it’s a safe bet the AEMC is going to be kept quite busy.

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. Solar Tax is annoying!

    I just signed up on the Petition page. It already has 10k supporters – which is great!

    I just wanted to know if AEMC is now reconsidering their idea.

    Thank you,
    Mike
    P.S. I just shared your post on my twitter.

  2. WOW!! Now THERE’S a surprise!!! It’s,only been couple of years since I first posted a warning about a tax-on-sunlight on this very blog. (and that includes registered stand-alone systems.)

    But I suspect the time for petitions is long gone.. Once ‘committees’, ‘meetings’ and assorted other bureaucracies/policy-makers/etc. have been established the only way is… forward.

    ….or you could all take to the streets and revolt!…..But no: that’d be ‘terrorism’, wouldn’t it?…… which is alaso not allowed.
    Bugger!!

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