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New South Wales 'ripped off' by solar power proposals

26th Mar 2012

The Australian government has so far failed to recognise just how important solar panels are to the national energy supply, a thinktank has emphasised.

As a result, you could be overcharged for the cost of your energy - a situation that might not improve anytime soon, indicated Beyond Zero Emissions.

It was responding to a report from the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) in New South Wales, which recommended that feed-in tariffs without fees should be made more widely available.

However, IPART believes these should only be made available if you are not eligible for other NSW government initiatives, such as the Solar Bonus Scheme.

Beyond Zero Emissions argues that this could lead consumers to lose thousands of dollars off the price of solar panels they have already purchased, leading to a state-wide rip-off.

Matthew Wright, executive director of the group, explained that big energy companies are likely to be the only winners from this situation.

Electricity customers are disadvantaged regardless of whether they decide to install solar power systems or not.

"As more and more solar power owners get underpaid for the electricity they produce, the wallets of the big old coal generator retailers will get fatter and fatter," Mr Wright explained.

Should IPART's recommendations be adopted, then they will result in a "huge profit windfall" for electricity generators and retailers at the expense of Australian homeowners, he added.

If owners of solar power systems were being paid a fair price for the electricity they produced, then everyone would benefit from lower bills, Mr Wright stressed.

One way of achieving this would be to adopt a more appropriate feed-in tariff, which would encourage more people to install solar panels and lower the cost of wholesale electricity.

Mr Wright illustrated: "At five to ten cents per kWh, consumers with and without panels are being short changed by greedy power companies, fully protected by IPART and ultimately the NSW government."

He described IPART's suggestion as a "less than optimal path" towards Australia's future and not to mention a rip-off for, the people who buy the electricity from the grid.

You may have seen recent figures from the Energy Users' Association of Australia, which indicated that Australians are paying among the highest prices in the world for our electricity.

Costs were revealed to be higher than in Japan, the European Union, the US and Canada, with the upward trend showing little sign of slowing.

Posted by Bob Dawson

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