Chris Russell, The Advertiser
MAKING rooftop solar owners pay to send energy into the grid should be considered as the system grapples with keeping the grid stable, the Australian Energy Regulator says.
Other options include charging solar owners for the necessary upgrades to the grid – or paying them to have their panel output turned off when the system is overloaded with too much power.
The options are canvassed in the AER’s annual review of the state of the energy market.
Under current rules, rooftop solar owners pay to connect to the grid but SA Power Networks, which runs the distribution network, cannot charge for the use of the grid when a homeowner sells power into the system.
The amount of power from solar varies greatly, causing instability which is costly to manage. “These costs affect all customers but are not charged to (rooftop solar) owners, so are not factored into (householder) investment decisions,” the report said.
Upgrading the system is expensive which has raised concerns about the inequity of the costs being shared by all electricity customers, whether or not they have solar panels.
An SA Power Networks consumer survey found support for a “dynamic” model where solar could be turned off for short periods but export limits increased at other times.
The AER report, published on Wednesday, said reforms should consider whether households opt into such a model with “rewards for their solar panels being constrained from exporting to the grid”.