A South Australian power company is trying to slug hard-working families with an extra fee just for having solar panels, the Clean Energy Council said today.

Clean Energy Council Policy Manager Darren Gladman said SA Power Networks was proposing to hit solar consumers with an extra charge of $100 next year.
“Most people with a solar power system would be confused about why an electricity company would think it is fair to charge them more just for having solar panels, and that confusion is entirely reasonable,” Mr Gladman said.

“People should be encouraged to invest in technology that helps them to reduce their power bills, without being penalised by their power company.

“The message SA Power Networks is sending to consumers with this solar charge is: Don’t try to cut your bills, because we’ll find a way to charge you more in the end.”

Mr Gladman said most people installing solar power in recent years were working families in the outer suburbs and regional areas, who had managed to find a bit of extra money to invest in technology which would help save them on their power bills over the long term.
“People have invested in solar power in good faith, with their own money, because there were government incentives to encourage them to do so,” he said.

“The way people use energy is changing rapidly, and all businesses working in the energy sector have to adjust to that. This problem of falling revenue is a complex one that many in the industry are wrestling with, but the approach taken by SA Power Networks is a lazy solution that unfairly penalises the wrong people.

“For example, analysis by the Productivity Commission shows that a customer using a 2 kilowatt air-conditioner is subsidised approximately $350 per year.

“Under the National Energy Rules, a customer with solar power should be treated no less favourably than a customer who has not installed the technology. Consequently, we believe the application by SA Power Networks to introduce this measure should be rejected by the Australian Energy Regulator.”

Please contact Clean Energy Council Media Manager Mark Bretherton on 0413 556 981 for more information or to arrange an interview.