Man warns against solar 'savings'

Tony Weir, of Brushgrove, with the 16 solar panels which cost him more than $17,000 to install.
Tony Weir, of Brushgrove, with the 16 solar panels which cost him more than $17,000 to install. JoJo Newby

TONY Weir has a message for all people considering installing solar panels on their roof to cut their escalating electricity costs – buyer beware.

The Brushgrove resident said he was told when he got his three kilowatt system installed in May it would effectively eliminate his entire electricity bill.

But after receiving his latest quarterly bill he said the actual saving from the $17,430 system was a measly $38.

“I could have saved more than that just by streamlining my electricity use,” he said.

“I was told it would eliminate my bill, I would have excess.

“It’s a seventeen and a half thousand dollar white elephant.”

Mr Weir said he had contacted the solar installer, who he did not want to name, as he was getting different readings on his meters.

After investigating the discrepancy, he was told a different net meter had been installed to what he ordered.

“I was told that whatever electricity I produce during the day when I’m not here goes onto the grid,” Mr Weir said.

“I asked how much do I get in relation to the payment for that and they said nothing.

“So I am providing power to the grid, to Essential Energy, for nothing.

“I’m not sure how much electricity I had produced, due to changes in the weather, but it was definitely hundreds and hundreds of dollars worth.”

Essential Energy community relations manager Mike Hely said people needed to be aware of changes in the solar industry since the Solar Bonus Scheme ceased at midnight on April 28.

Mr Hely said net metering allowed households to reduce their electricity bills by using the power their solar panels generated in their own home as it was being generated.

Some electricity retailers offered a feed-in tariff to customers and some did not.

“If a household is with a retailer that doesn’t offer a feed-in tariff, excess power generated by their solar system will be fed into the grid and they won’t receive any financial compensation for it,” Mr Hely said.

“It is in the customer’s best interest to shop around and find a retailer that offers a feed-in tariff.”

Clarence MP Steve Cansdell said he was aware some consumers were confused or being given incorrect information about subsidies available for solar-generated electricity since the closure of the Solar Bonus Scheme.

He said customers wishing to use the electricity from their renewable energy generator on site could do so via net metering, as opposed to the Solar Bonus Scheme which used gross metering.

“All electricity retailers have in the past few weeks re-confirmed they are continuing to accept and connect applications for net metering,” he said.

Topics:  electricity bill solar panels solar power

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