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Solar pricing needs to be consistent

19th Jun 2012

A consistent approach to solar pricing across all Australian states and territories would be warmly welcomed by the solar industry, according to the Australian Solar Energy Society (AuSES).

AuSES chief executive John Grimes says that with so many different solar schemes and support systems in place across the country, it might be time to streamline the process by establishing a single national fair price for solar.

"Australia's solar industry would welcome a consistent national approach to solar and clean energy programs," he explained in a statement.

John added: "The solar industry has been hamstrung by different support schemes in different states and territories, administered independently and not co-ordinated with the Australian government."

At the moment, he argued, "too many Australians" are not receiving a fair price for the renewable electricity they generate via rooftop solar PV panels.

For example, he explained that a Sydney household is currently paid six cents per kilowatt hour of electricity they generate - but the same household would be expected to pay 25 to 29 cents per kilowatt hour to purchase electricity from a major utility supplier.

According to John, the maths don't add up.

"You can sell your electricity to the big power company for six cents, and then the power company sells it to your neighbour for 29 cents - a tidy windfall profit estimated at $33 million per annum in New South Wales alone.

The solution, he explained, is a uniform price for solar energy that would see Australian households with solar panels paid at the same rate as they have to pay to use electricity generated at coal-fired power stations.

An effective approach, John explained, would also be fairer on Australian families and businesses that want to sell the power that they generate from solar panels back into the grid.

And as governments right across the country agreed to the National Principles for Feed-in Tariff Schemes back in 2008, John says "it's about time" this was established as a nation-wide solar pricing scheme.

Earlier this year, John explained that the failure of Australian electricity companies to adequately maintain their infrastructure or make timely upgrades are now facing aging facilities in need of repairs that could total $100 billion.

This, he explained, is the primary reason behind recent electricity price hikes - but solar could have an essential role to play in postponing or cutting down this major investment.

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