Now that approximately 350,000 households across NSW have installed solar photovoltaic panels on their roofs, we have entered the age of the ‘prosumer’ consumers who are also producers of energy. This is facilitating greater competition in the wholesale electricity market and multiple other economic, social and environmental benefits.
In a recent submission to the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART), PIAC has called for a fair price to be paid to NSW consumers who are generating electricity that is fed back into the national electricity grid.
‘Currently in NSW, some electricity retailers are receiving free or discounted electricity from households. Because there is no mandatory feed-in tariff in NSW, 30% of retailers have no feed-in tariff, and 50% offer a feed-in tariff below IPART’s recommended range,’ said Dr Gabrielle Kuiper, Senior Policy Officer at PIAC’s Energy + Water Consumer Advocacy Program.
‘Consumers could be providing up to $10 million worth of energy to the market, but the exact figure is unknown and IPART should be collecting data to understand how big this cross-subsidy is. All NSW households deserve a fair price for the energy they generate.’
PIAC’s submission argues that this significant inequity needs to be addressed by the NSW Government mandating a minimum solar feed-in tariff and IPART developing a best practice method for setting feed-in tariffs in NSW taking into account externalities, the planning value and the broader societal costs and values. PIAC also recommends that as an interim measure, IPART use a minimum price for its benchmark range of 8c/kWh for 2014/15, consistent with mandated feed-in tariffs in other states.