New South Wales Solar Power System Grid Connection Process

It’s a relatively straightforward process in New South Wales to have a solar power system connected to the mains grid where the inverter in the system is no more than 5kW capacity. However, note that it’s a requirement in NSW that an Accredited Service Provider (ASP) inspects your system, installs the meter and switches your system on – so it’s a good idea that your installer gets this aspect organised well ahead of time.

For systems with inverters more than 5kW capacity, you will first require approval from your electricity distributor – that’s the entity responsible for the “poles and wires” in your region. 

There are 3 electricity distributors in New South Wales

 1. Connect to Network Application Must Be Lodged

Your solar installer must lodge a Connect To Network Application with your electricity distributor even before the system installed.

Avoid letting your installer install your system prior to sighting the approval offer email/letter (Essential Energy), Permission To Connect letter (Endeavour Energy) or Job Number (Ausgrid- letter or email).

For small to medium systems on most networks, i.e. 2kW to 30kW, approval is usually granted within 3-5 working days if the solar company has all the relevant information they need to proceed. Commercial system approvals are case by case.

Some of the essential information your electricity distributor will require are:

  •  Your NMI (National Meter Identifier) Number found on any electricity bill for the property. This usually starts with the number “4” for NSW.
  • If you have a single or three phase supply coming into your main switchboard. This can usually be confirmed if you send  a photo to the solar company if they have not yet conducted a site visit.
  • The name of the electricity account holder (preferred- not essential. For businesses the business name is fine).

2.  Installation

Once the solar company you have chosen has provided you with the approval from your network to install your system, they will book you in for installation.

When the solar panels and inverter are in place and the system is operational and working, your installer MUST complete a Certificate of Compliance – Electrical Work (CCEW) and hand it over to you prior to leaving the site. If the installer cannot provide you with one on the day, be sure to chase it up after a day or so.

Without this, your meters cannot be changed over. If your system is a new install, the installer should leave your system off until the meter technician arranged by your retailer arrives at the site.

Note: For those upgrading an existing system, you still require network approval and a CCEW. If your existing system is older than 2 years, confirm with your electricity retailer if you’re metering needs to be changed over or not. Do not rely on the solar company to advise you of this!

3. Arranging Meter Change Over

Meter changeovers in NSW are now occur via your electricity retailer. Some retailers allow the solar company you have chosen to assist you in arranging this. Others require you to call and request a meter changeover.

Your solar company should advise you through this process. Retailers charge different rates for this exercise.

You cannot arrange the meter upgrade or change over without:

  1. Certificate of Compliance – Electrical Work (CCEW) that the installer should have given you on installation day or soon after.
  2. Approval letter, email or correspondence from your network that your solar company should have provided you with before installation.

Your retailer will then issue the job to their choice of Metering Coordinators (the people who do the actual meter changeover). They will normally contact you via phone, letter or email to notify you of when the planned meter changeover will take place.

Note 1:  Meter coordinators in NSW will simply ‘abort’ your meter change over if:

  • Your meter box is primitive/old and has wiring issues. Be sure to seek the advice of an electrician or even the solar company.
  • Your meter box is difficult to access. Ensure your contact details with your retailer are current if it is behind a gate or locked. Also ensure it is clear of trees and shrubs and that your dogs are kept away from the work area.
  • Your meter board contains asbestos that requires major drilling –  this is an issue for homes built prior to 1990 in NSW.
  • There is not sufficient space to install the new solar meters being rolled out across NSW.

Engage your electrician to ensure everything is OK prior to the meter technician coming to your home if you are unsure.
 
Note 2: If you have found a better deal for your solar feed in tariff, it is best switch retailer before you arrange the metering. Different retailers use different Metering Coordinators. There are fees involved if you change retailer after your original retailer has organised your meter change over.

4. Meter Installed – What Next?

Once your meter has been installed it always helpful to confirm with your retailer that is the case. Call your electricity retailer the next day and reconfirm your plan with them and ensure they are aware you have a solar power system, regardless of who organised the metering for you – i.e. the solar company or you!

Once this has been completed, you are on your way to saving money on your electricity bills!

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