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CEC responds to solar power criticism

24th May 2013

There have always been challenges for the solar power industry and factors that have served as barriers for some people thinking about or wanting to install solar panel systems.

In light of this, the Clean Energy Council (CEC) of Australia has criticised the Energy Supply Association of Australia's (ESAA) suggestion for solar-powered households to pay more to access the electricity network.

The ESAA states on its website that as an association it seeks to positively influence government policy decisions, to ensure the Australia enjoys the benefits of a safe and reliable electricity and natural gas supply.

In ESAA's discussion paper 'Who pays for solar energy?', the organisation states that "because of the way consumers are charged for network costs households who don’t have solar help pay the power bills of households who do".

"Most solar households end up only paying a fraction of their fair share of the cost of maintaining the network. While solar households import less electricity from the grid they can be among the biggest users of the networks, because they both import and export electricity at different times of the day," says the ESAA.

CEC deputy chief executive Kane Thornton likened this assertion to someone saying 20 years ago that people using email should chip in for postal stamps.

"It is no surprise that some of the big players in the traditional power industry are clutching at straws in media reports today to try and discourage the competition they are facing from the emerging solar industry," said Mr Thornton.

"It is ridiculous to single out solar power users, who are only one part of a nationwide movement by consumers to take control of their power use and save on the cost of living."

Mr Thornton commented that this sort of statement from the ESAA is a sign some old energy businesses are trying to preserve outdated business models.

He says that the 2.5 million Australians who now live in a solar power household should be outraged at this suggestion, especially as many of these Australians switched to solar in light of encouraging government incentives.

Household solar power is a significant benefit for the electricity industry as it helps to reduce demand for energy during peak times, such as on hot summer days.

This means that expensive new power infrastructure need not be built as solar power helps to reduce the peak which is one of the biggest contributors to retail electricity usage and costs - and we all know solar power's a winner. 

Posted by Mike Peacock

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