The state’s privatised electricity companies are taking solar electricity generated on consumers’ rooftops during peak times without paying, according to NSW Greens MP John Kaye.
Dr Kaye told audiences at Mullumbimby last night and Ballina on Wednesday that, as a result of the government closing the solar bonus scheme, excess electricity generated by grid-connected solar panels was being siphoned off by the companies for anything between $0 and eight cents per kilowatt hour.
The same electricity could then be retailed to a neighbour for as much as 35 cents per kilowatt hour, he said.
Consumers with grid-connected panels were effectively subsidising the fossil-fuel electricity industry, he said, while adding many were still getting massive electricity bills.
He described the practice as, ‘theft on a grand scale, with the state’s privatised electricity retailers and the distributors harvesting hundreds of millions of dollars each year in unearned profits’.
‘The absence of a feed-in tariff that rewards households for the energy they generate is deeply unfair to people who invested in clean-energy technologies,’ said Dr Kaye.
‘It is also undermining the future of a technology that will play a crucial role in moving NSW off coal and coal seam gas,’ he added.
‘The one million solar households around Australia have already helped avoid the massive expense of a new coal-fired power station.
‘They are taking pressure off the climate by avoiding greenhouse gas emissions and they created thousands of new jobs.’
He described both the coalition government and the Labor opposition as ‘captives of the fossil-fuel lobby’.
‘The coal and coal seam gas industry is now justifiably fearful of rooftop solar and its ability to threaten their dominance of electricity generation,’ he said.
The Greens are planning to introduce a bill into state parliament that would set a fair rate of reimbursement by electricity companies to retail customers for their excess rooftop-generated solar power.
‘As part of a package designed to wean the state off coal- and gas-fired electricity, the new tariff would reward existing solar households and encourage others to join them,’ Dr Kaye said.
‘It would set the feed-in price at the retailer’s sale price with a small adjustment for the cost of transmission and distribution infrastructure usage.
‘If the north coast National Party MPs are serious about bringing new jobs to the region and taking the pressure off their constituents’ power bills they will support our bill,’ Dr Kaye said.
Dr Kaye will be spoiling for another win, after Transgrid finally abandoned plans for a grand high-tension power line from Bonshaw to Lismore late last month, after a year of community pressure.
The Greens and affected communities argued the line was not necessary owing to changed electricity consumption patterns, a fact that Transgrid finally admitted.