Solar Power System Grid Connection Processes – State By State

Before a small scale solar power system can be installed and connected at your home or business and then subsequently switched on after the installation, there’s a series of steps that must be completed that will involve you, your solar installer, your network distributor (see below), electricity retailer and in some cases, other parties.

While this may sound a little daunting, your own involvement in the grid connection process could be minimal, with the other parties undertaking most of the work.

The steps  vary from state to state and it’s good to know how it all should work. Click below for further information on solar power system grid connection processes in your state or territory – but also refer to the important general notes below.

What Is An Electricity Distributor – And Which Is Mine?

While most Australians would know who their electricity retailer is, many may not be aware of their distributor – or even what one does.

An electricity distributor, also known as a Distributed Network Service Provider (DNSP), is the entity that owns and maintains an electricity network. There are different distributors in each Australian state and territory, and in some cases different distributors provide services in different parts of a state.

A DNSP plays an important role in the grid connection of solar power systems in each state and territory – so you’ll need to know who yours is. The following table indicates the various electricity distributors around Australia.

State/Territory Distributors Region
ACT EvoEnergy ACT
  Essential Energy ACT (limited area)
NSW Essential Energy Regional NSW
  Ausgrid Northern Sydney
  Endeavour Energy South-west of Sydney
QLD Energex South-east Queensland
  Ergon Energy Regional Queensland
SA SA Power Networks South Australia
TAS TasNetworks Tasmania
VIC CitiPower Melbourne CBD
  Powercor Western Victoria
  Jemena Western inner Melbourne
  AusNet Eastern Victoria
  United Energy South-east Melbourne and Mornington Pensinsula
WA Western Power Western Australia South of Kalbarri (SWIS)
  Horizon Power Rural stand-alone networks, including the Pilbara

DNSP Solar Inverter Size Limits

The following table indicates capacity limits various Distributed Network Service Providers have for solar inverters generally and whether battery inverters contribute to these limits. Information is current as at October 2019.

Distributor

Rules

Source

Australian Capital Territory

EvoEnergy

Single phase: 10 kW inverter limit, 5 kW export limit.

Three phase: 30 kW inverter limit, 30 kW export limit.

Battery inverters do count towards phase inverter limit.

Here

Essential Energy

Single phase: 5 kW inverter limit, 5 kW export limit.

Three phase: 15 kW inverter limit, 15 kW export limit.

*Rural areas: 3 kW inverter/export limit per phase*.

Battery inverters do count towards phase inverter limit.

Here

New South Wales

Essential Energy

Single phase: 5 kW inverter limit, 5 kW export limit.

Three phase: 15 kW inverter limit, 15 kW export limit.

*Rural areas: 3 kW inverter/export limit per phase*.

Battery inverters do count towards phase inverter limit.

Here

Ausgrid

Single phase: 10 kW inverter limit, 10 kW export limit.

Three phase: 30 kW inverter limit, 30 kW export limit.

Ausgrid “may” allow battery inverters to exceed overall inverter limit.

Here

Endeavour Energy

Single phase: 5 kW inverter limit, 5 kW export limit.

Three phase: 30 kW inverter limit, 30 kW export limit.

Battery inverters do not count towards phase inverter limit.

Here

Queensland

Energex

Single phase: 5 kW inverter limit, 5 kW export limit.

Three phase: 15 kW inverter limit, 15 kW export limit.

An installer we trust has advised that Energex regularly approves 10 kW inverter limit per phase, so long as export is 5 kW.

Battery inverters do count towards phase inverter limit.

Here

Ergon Energy

Single phase: 10 kW inverter limit, 5 kW export limit.

Three phase: 30 kW inverter limit, 15 kW export limit.

Battery inverters do count towards phase inverter limit.

Here

South Australia

SAPN

Single phase: 10 kW inverter limit, 5 kW export limit.

Three phase: 30 kW inverter limit, 15 kW export limit.

Battery inverters do count towards phase inverter limit.

Here

Tasmania

TasNetworks

Single phase: 10 kW inverter limit, 10 kW export limit.

Three phase: 30 kW inverter limit, 30 kW export limit.

Battery inverters do not count towards phase inverter limit. However, batteries are only approved automatically if they are zero export. If export is requested – requires manual assessment.

Here

Victoria

CitiPower/ PowerCor

Single phase: 5 kW inverter limit.

Three phase: 30 kW inverter limit.

Export limit: Case-by-case approval TBD if battery inverters count towards inverter limit.

Here

Jemena

Single phase: 10 kW inverter limit, 10 kW export limit.

Three phase: 30 kW inverter limit, 30 kW export limit.

Battery inverters do count towards phase inverter limit.

Here

AusNet

Single phase: 10 kW inverter limit, 5 kW export limit.

Three phase: 30 kW inverter limit, 15 kW export limit.

TBD if battery inverters count towards inverter limit.

Here

United Energy

Single phase: 10 kW inverter limit, 10 kW export limit.

Three phase: 30 kW inverter limit, 30 kW export limit.

Battery inverters do not count towards phase inverter limit.

Here

Western Australia

Western Power

Single phase: 5 kW inverter limit, 5 kW export limit.

Three phase: 30 kW inverter limit, 30 kW export limit.

Western Power have advised that 30 kW three-phase limit is rarely granted, and 8-22 kW is the usual range granted.

Battery inverters do not count towards phase inverter limit.

Here

Horizon Power

Single phase: 10 kW inverter limit, 5 kW export limit.

Three phase: 30 kW inverter limit, 15 kW export limit.

Horizon have advised that rural connections usually have much stricter requirements.

Battery inverters do not count towards phase inverter limit.

Here

General Notes On The Grid Connection Process

The grid connection process is often a paperwork-heavy one, with multiple parties involved. One of the most common complaints we hear is in relation to installers filling in paperwork incorrectly, or documents being “lost” by the retailer or distributor. A glitch in the paperwork process can cost valuable time, not to mention the frustration it can create.

While in some states, the customer doesn’t have much of a hands-on role in completing paperwork required for the grid-connection of a solar power system, the customer should keep his/her finger on the pulse of the process. If things are taking longer than they should – enquire rather than just assume that everything is okay and on track.

When you purchase your system, it will likely have been accompanied by an up-front discount – Australia’s solar subsidy; aka the solar rebate. This subsidy is based on Small-scale Technology Certificates (STCs). As part of the grid connection process, you will be required to sign over your STCs, but not until such time that the system installation is complete to the point where it is able to generate electricity, even if it is not connected to the meter. 

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