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Solar energy pricing to be determined by NSW review

1st Jul 2011

A review is set to be carried out by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal to assess the price for small-scale generated solar energy in New South Wales.

Fair prices, according to NSW energy minister Chris Harcher, are essential and these should not come at the expense of consumers.

He made his remarks during today's (July 1) NSW Solar and Renewable Energy Summit at the University of Newcastle, which focuses on future opportunities for solar energy in the state.

Harcher commented that the community has made loud and clear calls for "certainty and a future fair price for solar".

His latest assertions appear to take into account long-term pleas from prominent members of the solar industry, as well as the NSW Greens, who continue to call on energy retailers to pay for domestic electricity generated by solar panels on homes.

New South Wales has the greatest number of small-scale photovoltaic systems in Australia at 101 MW.

"It is time to end the boom and bust cycle for solar industry workers and provide a sustainable and predictable future going forward," Harcher said.

He added that future prices "must not disadvantage those who can least afford it", particularly when it comes to higher electricity costs.

Today's invite-only event brought together energy experts, consumer advocates, environmental groups and industry representatives to discuss the future of solar energy on all scales in NSW.

It follows a previous Solar and Renewable Summit held on May 6 this year.

The state government has pledged to make active contributions to the national 20 per cent renewable energy consumption target within the next nine years.

At present, an estimated six per cent of the total energy usage in New South Wales comes from renewable sources - of this figure, approximately one per cent is currently derived from solar. Other sources of renewable energy in the state include hydro, biomass, wind and landfill methane.

As such, the outcomes of today's summit will form the basis of a new Solar Action Plan, which significantly contributedf NSW's broader long-term renewable energy strategy, as well as immediate measures that can be taken to facilitate solar energy generation.

The taskforce assigned to draw up the plan will be led by Mary O'Kane, NSW chief scientist.

Professor O'Kane has a longstanding active interest in solar power and is also the current chair of the Australian Centre for Renewable Energy.

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