Monday, March 18, 2013

Heat Is On Solar-Powered Homes

AUSTRALIA'S 800,000 solar-powered homes should be slugged more to plug into the main electricity grid, so as to reduce costs for other families, energy distributors say.
An extra 400,000 homes went green in the past year
As households try to offset skyrocketing bills, an explosion of solar photovoltaic panel installations has seen an extra 400,000 homes go green in the past year.

But the Energy Networks Association, which represents distributors, says this has done little to reduce power use at peak times, such as in the evenings.

The ENA says companies still have to replace and upgrade poles and wires - the main driver of high electricity bills - and non-solar homes foot the majority of costs.

But an energy expert said networks made their money off peak demand.

ENA chief executive Malcolm Roberts said more flexible tariffs such as time-of-use pricing were needed, and a new connection charge for solar-powered homes.

"Like a telephone bill, customers should be paying a reasonable charge for the infrastructure connection as well as a volume-based charge for the energy they use via that connection," he said.

Clean Energy Council policy director Russell Marsh said households investing in solar were good for the environment and hip pocket.

CEC data shows homes with a 1.5kW system that feed power back into the grid could save $375-$691 a year, depending on feed-in tariffs.

The cost of installing solar panels fell last year.

University of Melbourne energy expert Prof Mike Sandiford said energy giants were keen to stop this trend.

"They have a business model that's based on regulated return of capital that's (reliant) on peak demand."


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