Over the years, states and territories across Australia offered feed-in tariffs to incentivise people to buy solar panels. The feed in tariffs helped people with the up-front cost of solar panels by reducing their subsequent energy bills. Now, with feed-in tariffs set to be rolled back in New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria in the coming months, thousands of Australians will lose those payments, meaning they could be faced with larger electricity bills.
Feed in tariffs work as follows: solar panels generate electricity during the day when the sun is shining. That electricity can be used at the same time it is generated (which is particularly the case for people who stay at home during the day), or it can be stored in batteries to be used at night. In either case, if the solar panel generates more electricity than is used or stored, the excess is “fed” back into the national electricity grid for other homes and businesses to use.
The amount paid to the household for the excess electricity exported into the grid is called the feed-in tariff, and is quoted as a certain number of cents per kilowatt hour. Now, solar early-adopter households across New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria will be heavily affected when the tariffs are unwound in September and December.
“It’s inevitable that energy bills will shoot up when the roll back begins. Usually consumers who have a solar panel system don’t shop around as much as other customers because the feed in tariff rebate they are receiving is of such great value. When the rebates are wound back, those customers will be incentivised to choose a retailer offering a cheaper rate,” says Abigail Koch, spokesperson for leading energy comparison service comparethemarket.com.au.
“With the roll back leaving some Australians over 50c worse off per kilowatt hour fed back to the grid; it may be wise for solar users to start shopping around for cheaper energy prices.”
“That said, we urge Australians not to make any hasty decisions to soften the blow of the tariff roll-back. The first step is simply to start reviewing your energy provider options to ensure you are receiving the best deal possible,” says Ms Koch.
Comparethemarket.com.au has compiled five top tips to help Australians avoid a hefty energy bill after the changes to solar feed-in tariffs are rolled out:
- Switch gas appliances to electric or vice versa
Now that there is less incentive to send electricity back to the grid, customers should re-evaluate their balance of electricity and gas usage and appliances to make sure they’re using the lowest cost fuel.
- Keep an eye out for competitive rates
Energy retailers set prices for the energy they supply, and they can also set their own feed in tariff rates. Customers should compare the usage charges and the types of feed-in tariffs retailers are offering. Look at electricity packages as a whole and begin weighing up your energy options.
- Swap to a solar battery instead
Instead of sending energy back to the grid, store it for use it at night when you’re at home. The number of battery storage options on the market is increasing, and the costs are decreasing.
- Consider buying a smart meter
Become more engaged and informed about your energy use generally: a smart meter is an electricity meter than measures and records your energy usage throughout the day, giving you real-time information about how much electricity you’re using and, with the help of an in-home display, which appliances are using it.
- Shop around for a better electricity retailer
Some retailers offering feed-in tariffs could offer higher payments or better conditions for a deal best suited to your situation. Make sure you shop around as energy costs vary between retailers.
Comparethemarket.com.au is a comparison website that makes it easier and quicker for Australians to compare and buy products and services they rely on in their everyday lives. Whether you’re looking for a good deal on your car insurance, health cover for you and your family, the lowest fuel prices in your area, or an energy provider that suits your needs, then go to comparethemarket.com.au. It’s a completely free service and enables Australians to make purchasing decisions with greater knowledge, confidence and savings.