Feed-in tariffs – what’s in and what’s out
From 1 January 2013, a feed-in tariff of a minimum of 8 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) became available to new customers feeding excess electricity back into the grid in Victoria. This tariff is for energy systems, such as solar, wind, biomass or hydro, of less than 100 kilowatts generating capacity in size. The Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI) website provides information about tariff eligibility and criteria:
Feed-in tariffs that have ended for new customers (including the tariffs’ end dates for existing contracts) are listed below:
- Standard Feed-in Tariff – closed to new applicants on 31 December 2012, eligible properties with an existing contract will continue to receive these rates until 31 December 2016.
- Transitional Feed-in Tariff – closed to new applicants on 31 December 2012, eligible properties with an existing contract will continue to receive these rates until 31 December 2016.
- Premium Feed-in Tariff – closed to new applicants on 29 December 2011, eligible properties with an existing contract will continue to receive this rate until 2024.
Installing a solar system can be a complex and expensive process. EWOV’s experience is that customers often have solar issues related to billing, lost paperwork for a meter installation, or not getting the correct tariff applied to their account. We recommend that customers do their research and be diligent with all paperwork throughout the application process.
Be wary of misleading marketing claims from solar installers. The Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV) website has a solar guide and can help with problems about a solar product or issues that cannot be resolved with the installer. CAV can be contacted on 1300 55 81 81.
See the following for additional information about solar:
- What's involved in going solar (DEPI)
- The Clean Energy Council has a Consumer Guide to Solar PV
- The Clean Energy Regulator has information about solar panels.
Information is also available in EWOV’s Fact Sheet 11: Solar and feed-in tariff basics.
Two energy retailers end door-to-door marketing
Two energy companies have stopped door-to door marketing in Victoria. On 28 March 2013, AGL Sales ceased its door-to door marketing practices, followed by EnergyAustralia (formerly TRUenergy) on 31 March 2013. Prior to this, legal action was undertaken by the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) against companies in relation to unlawful and misleading door-to-door selling practices that breach consumer protections of the Australian Consumer Law (ACL), details of which are available from Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV).
The ‘do not knock’ sign was also successfully tested in the Federal Court giving a clear warning that marketers must not ignore this sign and face big financial penalties if they do. The ACCC commenced its ‘Knock! Knock! Who’s There?’ campaign to help customers become more aware of their consumer rights at the door. Information and ‘do not knock’ hangers are available at www.accc.gov.au/doortodoor. This site also includes information on consumer rights under the ACL concerning telemarketing. Electricity and gas retailers must also follow the terms of the Code of Conduct for Marketing Retail Energy in Victoria for telephone and door-to-door sales.
Customers (particularly vulnerable customers such as the elderly or with disabilities) who do not want to receive marketing calls can register on the Do Not Call Register, which is maintained by the Australian Communications and Media Authority. Registration is free and now lasts for eight years.
The Department of Primary Industries (DPI) has a website called Switch On that provides information about flexible pricing. For more details visit: www.switchon.vic.gov.au. The information below is sourced from this website.
Flexible pricing is where customers can choose to be charged at a different tariff for electricity used during different times of the day. The aim is to encourage consumers to reduce their electricity consumption during high peak demand times.
An example of flexible pricing would be the following bill rate:
- Off-peak – 10pm-7am every day
- Shoulder – 7am-3pm and 9pm-10pm weekdays, 7am-10pm weekends
- Peak – 3pm-9pm weekdays only.
From mid-July 2013, more electricity customers will be offered a choice between a flat rate and flexible pricing. The choice to change to flexible pricing is voluntary and electricity companies are not allowed to move customers to flexible pricing without their consent.
When choosing between flexible pricing and a flat rate, customers must take into account their lifestyle – flexible pricing may not suit everyone. If you are at home during the day using electrical appliances, for example, elderly non-workers or a parent at home during the day caring for a child, then flexible pricing may not be beneficial. However, for electricity consumers who are at work during the day, then flexible pricing may suit them.
If customers are still not sure about whether flexible pricing will suit them, there is the option to switch back to the previous rate structure with the same retailer without an administration fee – customers will be able to do this until 31 March 2015.