Solar feed-in tariffs in 2017: know where you stand

One of the draw cards of solar energy – aside from the fact that it’s clean, sustainable and renewable – is the fact that solar households may be able to claim a rebate for unused energy through feed-in tariffs and Solar Bonus Schemes. That’s why, if you use solar energy in your home, it’s important to understand solar feed-in tariffs and keep up with changes to them.

That’s never been more relevant – Solar Bonus Schemes in a number of states ended on 31 December 2016, making room for new updated feed-in tariffs starting from January 1.

New South Wales residents were the most affected by these changes, with the complete removal of subsidised Premium and Transitional feed-in tariffs. Rebates in the state will now be totally up to the discretion of the energy provider, rather than 60c/kWh and 20c/kWh respectively.

Queenslanders who signed up before 10 July 2012, on the other end of the scale, weren’t affected by this round of changes at all. Households will continue to earn 44c/kWh on their solar energy until 1 July 2028, making good on Energy Minister Mark Bailey’s 2016 promise not to scrap the state’s Solar Bonus Scheme.

Victoria saw the introduction of a 5c minimum payment, which is one fifth of the original 25c/kWh, although households that signed up to the Premium feed-in tariff scheme before 29 December 2011 will continue to receive 60c/kWh until 1 November 2024.

South Australians in customer Groups 1 (approved by 31 August 2010), 2 & 3 (approved by 30 September 2011) will still receive 44c/kWh until June 30 2028. For other households in the state, there’s now no set minimum for energy retailers to offer, although unlike NSW, they do have to offer one.

So what does all this mean?

Basically, it comes down to the fact that in 2017, many households around Australia are earning less dollars per kWh than they’re used to. To balance that out and avoid a case of bill shock, solar lovers will need to be savvy about their energy use.

One way to do that is to use more solar energy and sell less back to the grid. That means planning to use large appliances like dishwashers or washing machines during the day so you can run them on solar.

You can also look into home battery systems from companies like Tesla and BMW which store the solar power you generate so you can use it whenever you like. Although, if you go this route, keep in mind that the start-up costs can be pretty steep.

One other way to keep your energy bill under control is to regularly review what plan you’re on and use resources like Mozo’s new and improved energy comparison tool to make sure you’re signed up to the best value deal on offer. When you do, just remember to specify that you have solar panels and what your average daily feed-in is, so you get accurate price estimates.

Andrew Duncanson is Mozo’s Director of Comparison Data Services. His aim is to pass on his knowledge to everyday consumers to help them find a better deal on everything from their banking to energy plans.