Rooftop solar customers could be charged to export electricity under new AER suggestion

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Back in March, the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) suggested that Aussies with rooftop solar who export excess electricity to the grid be charged a cost for doing so. 

They said this new rule could help the electricity grid cope with large influxes of renewable energy generation brought on by rooftop solar. 

"The poles and wires businesses were set up to get electricity from a big generator, like a coal plant or a gas plant, down those wires and into your house," said AEMC chief executive, Benn Barr. 

"That change we've seen over the last 10,15 years is a two-way flow … now power is not just going to your house, but power is coming from your house. The system hasn't been set up to deal with that.

Barr argued that the prices would be flexible and be left up to power companies to determine, however, Aussies will still be able to earn cash by exporting electricity when required. 

"We've modelled different charges from $10 to $100, depending upon the size of your solar system," Barr added. 

"You get a good return from solar. And it's not going to make it uneconomical for customers to put it on their roof.” 

However, not everyone is on board with the idea. 

Professor at Victoria University, Bruce Mountain told ABC’s 7:30 program that this measure would decrease a household’s income received for exporting solar by 80%. This could also see fewer Aussies interested in making the switch to solar power. 

It’s no secret that Aussies are big fans of solar power, with recent research from the Clean Energy Regulator found that as of 31 December 2020, more than 2.66 million households have had a solar system installed. 

But could a proposed tax forecast a dive in solar uptake amongst Aussie households? 

"Essentially, they will get the equivalent of a hamburger a year as their income from rooftop solar sales,” Mountain told 7.30. “I think that's very likely to bring pressure in the rooftop solar market, and customers will be less interested in it.” 

It’s unclear whether this proposed change will go ahead. But if you’d like to learn more about how solar power can benefit the environment and your wallet, have a read of our solar power guide.

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