Various solar rebates and schemes have helped thousands of Aussie households turn their green energy dreams into reality, and it’s helping boost renewable energy production big time. According to solar-focused search engine bidmysolar, one-fifth of Australia’s clean energy is generated from small-scale solar systems.One scheme that’s increasingly popular amongst Aussie homeowners is the federal government’s Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme. Under this scheme, small-scale technology certificates (STC) are generated for every kilowatt of panels installed. The number of certificates produced per system depends on its geographical location, installation date and the amount of electricity generated, which can mean a rebate worth thousands of dollars. Regardless of the system’s efficiency, the rebate per panel remains the same, prompting Aussies to purchase less reliable and cheaper systems. As a result, electricity generation and consumption are disrupted. “Quality solar will pay for itself within three to four years and last for 15 to 25 years. Comparably, cheap solar often fails within 12 to 36 months and underperforms by as much as 60% annually,” founder of bidmysolar, Bernie Kelly told Mozo. “Cheap solar is undeniably expensive solar, because not only have you invested in a system that fails but you also continue to have sizable power bills and if you decide to reinvest in a new system, the output of those costs too.” Further research from bidmysolar revealed that one in six solar systems across the country developed a major fault or stopped working altogether, with cheaper models often losing more than 20% of their output capacity within just five years. “The government incentive programme for solar has created an environment for unreliable solar operators to thrive. Cheap, underperforming and failing solar has been dumped into the Australian market,” says Kelly. It’s forecasted that more than 400,000 applications for the STC’s by the Clean Energy Regulator will be made this year. To prevent more solar hiccups for the average household, Kelly shared with Mozo his top three tips for finding a top of the line solar system. “The most important issue for consumers is to never rush in, avoid all the sales hype, and know that prices do not swing wildly from day to day or month to month,” he said. “Avoid wherever possible, finance promising interest-free, no money down. Instead, talk to your bank and use their Green Loan initiatives or a fit for purpose solar loan.“Always stick to the facts, if anybody makes a statement regarding quality and performance, have them explain the position with some science attached. Question everything which is stated verbally and have a salesperson commit to writing what they have said.“Find an independent solar advisor who is not conflicted by sales commissions or benefits, like selling your personal details to multiple solar companies.” Despite its popularity, solar power remains a mystery for many Aussies, so if you’d like to learn more about how solar energy works, have a read of our handy guide.
New figures from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) have revealed that electricity prices have fallen by 9% since the middle of last year. As a result, thousands of households across eastern and southern states now have the potential to collectively save $900 million by making the switch to a better offer. According to ACCC Chair, Rod Sims the reason for the decline in prices was due to an increase in power generation, specifically renewable energy generation and falling fuel costs. “There are two ways that households and small businesses can get the hip-pocket benefit of recent reductions in retailers’ costs: by changing to a new, cheaper plan; or, by waiting for their retailer to lower the rates on the plan that they’re already on,” he said. Under a new law that was passed in June 2020, called the Prohibiting Energy Market Misconduct (PEMM) law, electricity retailers are now required to make adjustments to their pricing in line with the cost of them to obtain electricity. And if you’ve been keeping up with energy market movements as of late, you’ll know that wholesale electricity prices have been on the decline since mid-2020. “We also expect further significant price reductions from retailers over time, as the reductions in wholesale spot prices flow through to retailers’ contracting positions,” said Sims. Victorians have the biggest potential savings of between $171 and $198 a year, as the state’s flat offer prices have reduced by 11% to 14%. This is followed by South-East Queensland ($126), South Australia ($118), New South Wales ($80 - $88) and the Australian Capital Territory ($46). Although Sims explained the ACCC will be investigating as to whether electricity retailers are following PEMM law, he encouraged Aussies to shop around to secure further savings on their annual bill. So if you think you could be getting a better deal on your electricity bill, why not take our energy comparison tool for a spin? It can help you compare some of the electricity plans available in your area.
Although the Covid-19 pandemic may have put a damper on potential international travel, it hasn’t slowed down Aussies from reaching their green energy goals. Research from solar analytics group, SunWiz finds that Aussie households had more than 31,000 solar energy batteries installed in 2020, an increase of 20% from 2019. What’s more impressive is that sub-100W solar panel installations have grown by 39% year-on-year. “In 2020 Australians continued to demonstrate a desire to reduce their power bills by making the most of the nation’s abundant and cheap solar power and empower themselves with a battery,” said SunWiz managing director, Warwick Johnston. “It was a surprisingly good year.”Unsurprisingly, South Australia led the way for solar battery installations, with just over a quarter of installations occurring in that state. According to Johnston, this influx may be linked to the state’s solar battery subsidy program. “There is such high demand from [South Australian] homeowners that the state government had to reduce its subsidy to avoid overheating the market and exhausting available government funds too quickly,” he said. SunWiz estimates that the uptake for solar batteries will continue to soar, with the analytics group forecasting an additional 33,000 installations this year alone.
Following new legislation introduced last week, Victoria is about to become the first state in Australia to impose a tax on electric vehicles (EVs) and other zero-emission vehicles. The new tax is set to come into effect on July 1 and will cost EV owners 2.5 cents per kilometre and two cents per kilometre for hybrid vehicles. It’s estimated that the total cost for EV owners will be up to $300 every year at registration time. Victorian Treasurer, Tim Pallas explained that the decision to introduce the tax on EVs was to ensure that all Victorian drivers were treated equally while creating a sustainable road network. "We are providing confidence to new electric vehicle owners with a massive boost to our charging network, funded by the distance-based charge, which will reduce range anxiety as a key barrier to take-up," he said.However, not everyone is on board with the new initiative, Greens MP, Sam Hibbins said the argument for the EV tax was not justifiable and was nothing more than a “tax grab by the government”.
According to new analysis from the Climate Council, it’s clear that gas power is slowly starting to be phased out from the National Energy Market (NEM). The non-profit organisation found that output from gas generators fell to rock bottom levels over the past summer, reaching only a total of 5% of the market share. They believe that this was due to wind and solar power breaking records of their own, surging to new heights of generation. “Our existing gas power stations are struggling to compete with clean, reliable and affordable renewable energy and storage. Australia does not need any new gas,” said Climate Council senior researcher, Tim Baxter. “Gas is a polluting and expensive fossil fuel that’s on the way out and has no role to play in our economic recovery. It’s driving up household power prices, and prices for our manufacturing industries, putting the sector at risk.” The last time gas peaked was in Autumn 2014, occupying 13% of the market share, meanwhile, renewable energy has doubled in market share during the same period. During the most recent summer in New South Wales, the market share of renewables hit 26.1%, compared to just 0.9% for gas. These figures were even more impressive in Victoria, with the renewables’ market share claiming 29.5%, compared to a mere 0.5% for gas. “As the sunniest and one of the windiest places on the planet, Australia should be cashing-in on its renewable advantage, and in doing so, rapidly reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It’s a win-win,” said Baxter.
Since its inception in Byron Bay following protests against coal seam gas fracking, Enova has rolled out services all over New South Wales and to date has almost 10,000 customers. Now the community-owned energy provider has extended its services to residents in South East Queensland.
Almost a year on from the nationwide Covid-19 lockdown and Aussie households seem to have gotten back to their regular routine. But one thing that might not have bounced back to normal is our energy bills. According to bill payment platform Deferit, New South Wales, Tasmania and the Northern Territory all had a 10% - 20% increase in the dollar amount of energy bills paid in the last year. Founded in 2018, Deferit is an innovative bill payment platform that allows Aussies to guarantee their bills are paid on time. Users upload a bill they are struggling to pay, and Deferit will pay it off immediately on their behalf. Customers can then pay back the cost in four equal interest-free instalments, similar to Buy Now Pay Later services. There are no late fees; however, customers will need to pay a fixed monthly fee of $5.99. Deferit co-founder and chief executive officer Jonty Hirsowitz says the rise in energy costs has seen many Aussies flock to the payment platform to keep their living expenses on track. Interestingly, the payment service found that 77% of energy bills uploaded are paid on or ahead of time.“We have seen over 150% year on year growth since February last year - so throughout the Covid-19 period,” he said. “That said, we actually found that users had access to more funds than usual as a result of the various government subsidies and access to superannuation.”Hirsowitz says that energy bills are the most common bill type paid off, with over 30,000 energy bills being paid over the past 12 months. The average energy bill amount being paid on time is $250 and $467 for an overdue bill. “It's essentially like bill smoothing meeting bill extensions at the click of a button. An average Deferit consumer will upload three bills per month and spread their payments back to us across the remainder of the month according to their income and other household expenses,” says Hirsowitz.
Whether it’s laziness or a little knowledge on the subject, the average Aussie isn’t that keen to switch and save on their energy bill - and it’s costing us big time. New research from the St Vincent de Paul Society found that collectively, households are missing out on an eye-watering $500 million in energy savings by not switching to a cheaper deal. In fact, households across Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia are paying up to $200 extra for electricity, despite previous news of prices falling. "Wholesale prices have come down significantly and there's also been changes to poles and wires prices," manager of policy and research at St Vincent de Paul Society, Gavin Dufty told the ABC in a recent interview. "That's washed through the electricity market, but we're really concerned that people haven't gone out there and refreshed their electricity accounts so those savings end up in people's pockets and not the pockets of the big multinationals."Dufty explained that there are up to six million Australian households in those four states that are still on expensive contracts with their retailers. Most of these customers were previously on contracts, which have now expired. As a result, the retailer has rolled them onto a default offer, which generally tend to be on the pricier side. "When you start to get price falls, [retailers] don't quickly come back to you and say 'here's all these savings you can have', they like to let you sweat a little bit because that's more money for them,” said Dufty.
We’re sure you already know that having solar power as your electricity source is a great way to save on your energy bills. But given that solar panels can cost thousands, taking that first step can be daunting. If you’re thinking of making the switch to solar, we’re jotted down three ways you can cover the cost, plus their pros and cons.
Any Aussie household can understand the value of switching to solar for their electricity source, and thanks to a new South Australian program selected households will get to experience it for free. Under the new Switch to Solar pilot program, around 1,000 South Australian concession holders will receive a free solar system, replacing the Annual Energy or Cost of Living concession. Households who are recipients of these concessions are given up to a total of $226.67 and $215.10, respectively each year. Meanwhile, this program is set to deliver participants an annual saving of $890 on their energy bill, according to the Marshall Liberal Government.“Our new Switch to Solar pilot is a win-win for everyone,” said Minister for Human Services Michelle Lensink. “Not only is the Government injecting money into the economy and supporting vital jobs through the purchase of 1000 new solar panels, our concession holders will get big bill savings off their energy bills.”The suburbs chosen for this pilot are: