LOSING OUT: If the laws pass, then people who installed panels after June 15 will forfeit their 44c tariff.
LOSING OUT: If the laws pass, then people who installed panels after June 15 will forfeit their 44c tariff. Trevor Veale/ The

New laws will prevent expansion of dear solar power systems

BUNDABERG solar-powered home owners who signed up under the 44-cent feed-in-tariff will be unable to add extra capacity to their arrays and maintain the superior tariff, if new legislation is passed.

That's according to Bundaberg Solar operations manager David Dorron, who only came across the proposed legislation when he was installing an array for a client.

"We were in the process of upgrading an install for a customer when they got a courtesy call from Ergon saying if you go ahead with this solar array upgrade there's a good chance you will lose the 44-cent solar feed tariff," he said

"The customer saw red and asked us to drop our tools."

The State Government introduced an Amendment Bill to Queensland Parliament on June 15, saying it was making rules clearer on how to integrate new renewable energy technologies with current PV set-ups while retaining premium tariff.

If passed, the proposed changes will apply to the installation of batteries and additional generation after June 15.

Mr Dorron said the government was moving to exclude customers on the 44-cents feed-in-tariff from adding extra capacity to solar arrays to make up for declines in production as systems aged.

"The bill takes in to account the AC capacity and gives no allowance to the DC capacity," he said.

Ergon Energy states on its website that if an array upgrade on a 44-cent-eligible system happened on or after June 15, 2017, and results in the total array capacity exceeding the total inverter capacity, the 44-cent feed-in-tariff would be forfeited.

"The only exemption to this is if a sales contract between the customer and the PV retailer/installer was dated before June 15, 2017 and a copy of that sales contract can be provided to the distributor upon request," the statement reads.

"If one or more panels of an array require replacement and the proposed new array capacity is greater than the inverter capacity, then installers should ensure the total array capacity doesn't exceed the original array capacity.

"This is irrespective of whether or not the replacement is under warranty."

Mr Dorron said he was seeing a growing number of customers seeking to add solar capacity to counteract soaring electricity prices.

"This Bill directly goes against the government's public displays of trying to help people combat the ever-increasing costs of living," he said.

The 44c feed-in tariff is closed to new solar customers.

The Solar Bonus Scheme is legislated to expire on July 1, 2028.

Bundaberg is the nation's solar panel capital, with more per capita than any other city in Australia.

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