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Preliminary report evaluates NSW solar future

12th Aug 2011

The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) have released a paper detailing the future of New South Wales' solar industry.

IPART has called for submissions from solar industry bodies and stakeholders and will accept feedback reports until September 12, 2011.

The report deals with the NSW feed-in tariff, solar credits and the impact on the electricity market.

Attention is focused squarely on "setting a fair and reasonable value for electricity generated by small-scale solar PV units in NSW".

The report acknowledges that all levels of government have provided generous subsidies in the past, however a clear plan needs to be formed for the future - particularly in the wake of the Gillard government's tax on carbon emissions.

IPART has been asked by the government to canvass the current market and recommend a value for electricity generated by solar panel systems in homes and businesses as part of the feed-in tariff.

It has also been given the task of assessing how the scheme should be implemented across the state.

According to the report, their approach will include an evaluation of the financial gain to retailers if there were no feed-in tariff.

This will assist in estimating the wholesale market value and in turn, how much consumers should be paid for their contribution to the electricity grids in their region.

In previous rounds of the NSW feed-in tariff, consumers have been paid either 60 or 20 cents per kilowatt hour of electricity generated at home and fed back into the grid, depending on when they joined the scheme.

Solar feed-in tariffs are designed to pay consumers back for the excess electricity they generate at home.

In some cases, households have reduced their electricity bill to zero through the rate paid back to them by utilities companies.

IPART has recently faced criticism from the Australian Solar Energy Society and Solar Energy Industries Association.

Both bodies have called for IPART and the NSW government to speed up the policy-making process

The NSW government has stated that no policy changes will be announced until the findings of IPART are released in April.

AuSES chief executive John Grimes said on July 26: "This is not the time for long, drawn out negotiations, which are costing jobs and killing the industry. The solution isn't hard. It can be implemented tomorrow at no cost to the taxpayer."

-Bob Dawson: News Editor

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