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Solar Bonus Scheme Questions & Answers[12/03/2010]
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Solar Bonus Scheme Questions & Answers

 NSW Solar Bonus Update:
Last updated: 10 March 2010

  • You can now arrange for your Solar Power System metering connection to be changed to or installed with a GROSS configuration.

    We recommend that you act promptly if you want to maximise your financial benefit under the NSW Solar Bonus Scheme
  • You will receive a GROSS feed-in credit for all the electricity your solar power system generates at the NSW Solar Bonus rate of 60 cents/kWh (incl. GST if any), from the date of the metering change or installation. If you are an EnergyAustralia retail customer, from this date we will also provide you with an additional payment of 6 cents/kWh (incl. GST, if any) giving a total credit of 66 cents/kWh (incl. GST, if any).
  • For existing NET solar customers who have not changed to GROSS metering by 1 July 2010, EnergyAustralia will continue to pay our customers the 60 cents plus an additional 6 cents per kWh, until further notice.

    Please see below for more information. 


Q1. What is the NSW Solar Bonus Scheme?

Q2. What are the Transitional Arrangements?

Q3. How is EnergyAustralia implementing the NSW Solar Bonus Scheme?

Q4. How do I know whether my system meets the eligibility criteria for a "complying generator"?

Q5. Do I need to get my metering connection changed in order to get the NSW Solar Bonus?

Q6. How much is it likely to cost to get my metering changed?

Q7. When should existing net metered customers convert to gross metered arrangements, ie. when are the GROSS meters available?

Q8. What feed-in rates will I receive under the Scheme?

Q9. Will the feed-in credit be paid on a gross basis as soon as gross metering is installed or do I have to wait until 1 July 2010?

Q10. What will happen if I cannot convert an existing system before 1 July 2010?

Q11. How do I go about organising my GROSS meter change?

Q12. What is the difference between a NET metering and a GROSS metering configuration?

Q13. Is the solar rebate taxable income to the customer?

Q14. How will I be paid my NSW Solar Bonus?

Q15. Can EnergyAustralia arrange for my GROSS meter change?


 

 

Q1. What is the NSW Solar Bonus Scheme?

The NSW Government recently announced new details for the design of the NSW Solar Bonus Scheme set to commence on 1 January 2010. See the Premier's Media Release of 10 November 2009.
Some of the key features of the Solar Bonus Scheme are that it:  

  • It commenced on 1 January 2010 and will operate for 7 years. 
  • It credits eligible customers with a 'gross' feed-in tariff rate of 60 cents per kilowatt hour for all the electricity that their eligible solar photovoltaic (PV) system or wind turbine generates subject to the transitional arrangements.   
  • Small electricity customers (those with an annual electricity consumption of up to 160 megawatt hours) are eligible to participate in the Scheme. 
  • Only customers with solar power systems and wind turbines (up to 10 kilowatts in capacity) that connect to the electricity network through an inverter (up to 10 kilowatts in capacity) are eligible to participate in the Scheme. 
  • To be eligible for the Solar Bonus Scheme, solar power systems installed and connected after 1 January 2010 must be installed by a person, who at the time of the installation had a Grid-connect Design & Install accreditation from the Clean Energy Council.
  • Each eligible small electricity customer is entitled to receive the Solar Bonus Scheme credit for one eligible renewable energy generator (solar power system or wind turbine) only. 
  • The tariff rate of 60 cents per kilowatt hour will be fixed for the life of the Scheme, meaning it will not vary with the time of the day or during the life of the Scheme unless amended by further legislation.  
  • The Scheme will be reviewed in 2012 by the Minister for Energy, or when the installed capacity of renewable energy generators participating in the Scheme reaches 50 megawatts, whichever occurs first.

More information is available on the NSW Government's Solar Bonus Scheme and Solar Bonus Scheme Questions and Answers website.

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Q2. What are the Transitional Arrangements?

The NSW Solar Bonus Scheme legislation provides for a transition period for those customers who already have systems with a NET metered connection to the electricity grid. This allows the Scheme to commence under a NET crediting basis for EnergyAustralia, Country Energy and Integral Energy customers with existing net metering, until they fully transition to a gross crediting basis on 1 July 2010.

EnergyAustralia has approximately 5,800 sites in its network area that have NET metering arrangements for their existing small generators. To receive a GROSS feed-in tariff under the NSW Solar Bonus scheme these customers will need to carry out meter conversions at their premises. A NET to GROSS meter conversion will require an additional type 5 interval meter to be installed.

From the date of a GROSS metering change, customers with a Complying Generator  will receive a credit for the GROSS (or total) amount of electricity the customer’s solar power system supplies back to the electricity grid. Please note that:

  •  EnergyAustralia retail solar customers in the Country Energy network distribution area are currently using a NET metering configuration for solar power connections to the electricity grid, and from 1 January 2010 are receiving a credit of 60 cents per kWh (incl. GST if any) for the surplus or NET amount of electricity they export to the grid.
  • EnergyAustralia retail solar customers in the Integral Energy network distribution area are connected with a mix of GROSS and NET-metering configurations for solar power connections to the electricity grid, although the vast majority are GROSS. From 1 January 2010, these customers are receiving a credit of 60 cents per kWh (incl. GST if any) for either the NET or GROSS amount of electricity they export to the grid. 

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 Q3. How is EnergyAustralia implementing the NSW Solar Bonus Scheme?

EnergyAustralia is currently working through the changes required to implement the NSW Solar Bonus Scheme. We can now tell you that:  

  • The Solar Bonus has been credited to existing customers with systems connected in a NET metering configuration from 1 January 2010;
  • From 1 July 2010 you will need to be a “complying generator” and have changed to a GROSS metering configuration basis to   receive a gross credit under the scheme;
  • This transitional arrangement was introduced by the NSW Government to allow existing solar customers with NET metering configurations in the EnergyAustralia network area time to convert to the GROSS metering configuration required to continue participating in the scheme;
  • An additional meter will be required for the GROSS metering configuration.  EnergyAustralia will supply this meter at no additional cost. These meters are being made available to meter installers;
  • There will be an installation cost for the meter conversion work.  The cost of conversion is estimated to be $400 (excluding GST), depending on your situation. These costs may be even higher if the second meter does not fit into existing meter boxes or switchboards or the existing wiring from your inverter has to be re-routed within your premises to the new meter position;
  • There will be an installation cost for the meter conversion work.  The cost of conversion is estimated to be $400 (excluding GST), depending on your situation. These costs may be even higher if the second meter does not fit into existing meter boxes or switchboards or the existing wiring from your inverter has to be re-routed within your premises to the new meter position;
  • The meter upgrade to a GROSS configuration will affect your electricity consumption billing calculations:

    - you will no longer receive on-site savings from your solar power system so the consumption part of your bill (i.e. the electricity you use from the grid) will increase. (This is because all the electricity your system generates is now supplied to the electricity grid);

    - your electricity consumption rates (for electricity you use from the grid) may also change as a result of the metering change and you should confirm this with your retailer;
  • If your existing metering is an older style dial display non-digital (type 6) meter, the upgrade to a GROSS configuration for your Solar Power System will  mean your meters will change to new time-of-use capable interval metering;

    For EnergyAustralia retail customers (in the EnergyAustralia Network Area):

    –  you will still be able to keep your off-peak hot water rates, (if any);
    – if you are not already on Time-of-Use electricity rates tariff (also known as Residental PowerSmartBusiness PowerSmart or Business LoadSmart), installation of the GROSS meter will mean that your electricity rates will change from single consumption to Time-of-Use;
    - A letter introducing Time-of-Use billing will be sent to you soon after the metering change;
  • If you have a complying generator and have changed to a GROSS metering configuration you will receive the NSW Solar Bonus rate of 60 cents per kWh (incl. GST if applicable) for your GROSS or total electricity generation from the date of your meter change.  In addition, if you are an EnergyAustralia retail customer we are pleased to advise that you will also receive an additional payment of 6 cents/kWh (incl. GST, if any) giving a total of rate of 66 cents/kWh (including GST if any).

    For those existing NET solar customers who have not changed to GROSS by 1 July 2010, EnergyAustralia will continue to pay our customers the 60 cents plus an additional 6 cents per kWh from 1 July 2010, until further notice.



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Q4. How do I know whether my system meets the eligibility criteria for a "complying generator"?

If you are an existing solar power system customer, to become a Complying Generator, you will need to meet certain eligibility criteria*, including: 

  • your annual electricity consumption must be less than 160,000 kilowatt hours (the average household uses approximately 8,000 kilowatt hours in a year);
  • your inverter must be rated at no more than 10 kilowatts in size (the most common systems are 1 to 1.5 kilowatts); and
  • you will need to arrange for your metering to be changed to a GROSS configuration during the transitional period, which is from 1 January to 30 June 2010.

This includes households as well as some small businesses, schools and community organisations.

If you are about to install a new solar power system or upgrade your current system, you will also need to ensure: 

  • that your installer is accredited by the Clean Energy Council; and
  • that your inverter equipment is also on the list of products approved by the Clean Energy Council. 

You can check these details at the Clean Energy Council website links below: 

* Full details on eligibility criteria can be found on the NSW Government Solar Bonus Scheme website. Please note that the website confirms that “Each customer has the responsibility for ensuring that their renewable energy generator installation meets all requirements of the Solar Bonus Scheme including complying with the metering and connection requirements of their distribution network”.

See: http://www.industry.nsw.gov.au/energy/sustainable/renewable/solar/solar-scheme

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Q5. Do I need to get my metering connection changed?

Yes, your metering connection will have to be changed to a GROSS configuration if you want to receive a gross solar bonus credit after 1 July 2010.

You should arrange for your GROSS meter installation as soon as possible to maximise your financial benefit under the NSW Solar Bonus scheme. 

However, for existing NET solar customers who have not changed to GROSS by 1 July 2010, EnergyAustralia will continue to pay our customers the 60 cents plus an additional 6 cents per kWh from 1 July 2010, until further notice.

See Q6 for information about meter installation costs and Q11 about how to organise your meter change.

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Q6. How much is it likely to cost to get my metering changed?

While the meters required will be supplied at no additional cost, there will still be a cost for installing them. 

For a standard household solar power installation (where the inverter is located close to the meter box) the installation work is estimated to be approximately $400 (incl. GST). These costs may be much higher for more complex situations, such as where the second meter does not fit into existing meter boxes or switchboards, or where the existing wiring from your inverter has to be re-routed within your premises to the new meter position.

You should confirm the total costs of converting your metering to a GROSS metering configuration with your chosen installer. See Q11 for information about how to organise your meter change. 

(Please note that the cost of meter installation is not covered by the NSW Solar Bonus Scheme).

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Q7. When should existing net metered customers convert to gross metered arrangements?

Your metering connection will have to be changed to a GROSS configuration before 1 July 2010, if you want to continue to receive the solar bonus credit after that date. However at this stage we are still working through the details of how this will work and will advise you early in 2010 of the date when this meter change will be available.

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Q8. What feed-in rates will I receive under the Scheme?

For EnergyAustralia retail customers with solar power systems:
From the date of your GROSS metering change, so long as you are a “Complying Generator” you will receive: 

  • A credit for the GROSS (or total) amount of electricity your solar power system supplies back to the electricity grid calculated at the NSW Solar Bonus rate of 60 cents/kWh (incl. GST if applicable); plus
  • An additional payment of 6 cents/kWh (incl. GST if applicable) for the GROSS (or total) amount of electricity your solar power system supplies back to the grid, i.e. you will receive a total credit of 66 cents/kWh (incl. GST if applicable).

If you remain connected with a NET metering configuration, after 30 June 2010 you will receive a credit at the NSW Solar Bonus rate of 60 cents/kWh (incl. GST if applicable) for the net amount of solar electricity you export to the electricity grid until further notice.

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Q9. Will the feed-in credit be paid on a gross basis as soon as gross metering is installed or do I have to wait until 1 July 2010?

We are now pleased to advise that you will receive a GROSS feed-in credit for all the electricity your solar power system produces at the NSW Solar Bonus rate of 60 cents/kWh (incl. GST if applicable), from the date of the metering change or installation.

If you are an EnergyAustralia retail customer, from this date we will also provide you with an additional payment of 6 cents/kWh (incl. GST if applicable) giving a total credit of 66 cents/kWh (incl. GST, if any).

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Q10. What will happen if I cannot convert an existing system before 1 July 2010?

For existing NET solar customers who have not changed to GROSS by 1 July 2010, EnergyAustralia will continue to pay our customers the 60 cents plus an additional 6 cents per kWh from 1 July 2010, until further notice.

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Q11. How do I go about organising my GROSS meter change?

If you are about to install a new solar power system or upgrade your current system your solar power installer may be able to organise the meter change for you.

If you are an existing solar power system customer, to arrange for your meter change you will need to contact an electrician that is an Accredited Service Provider (ASP) for a quote. They must have a current “Level 2 Category 4” accreditation from NSW Government Fair Trading to do be fully qualified to carry out this work.
To find an ASP to arrange for a quote to do this work you can: 

  • contact the ASP that installed your original meter for your solar system (your solar power installer may have still have their details); or
  • download the full list of level 2 accredited service providers on the NSW Government Fair Trading Website, and look for those listed with “Category 4” in the first column: www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au/pdfs/Consumers/ASP_list_level2.pdf; or
  • you can call NSW Fair Trading on 02 9895 0008 and them to help you find a “Level 2 Category 4” accredited service provider; or
  • find a local electrician in the Yellow Pages (and make sure you ask them to confirm they are  “Level 2 Category 4” accredited service provider)

Note that there will be a cost for meter installation - see Q6 above.


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Q12. What is the difference between a NET metering and a GROSS metering configuration?

In simple terms, a GROSS metering configuration for solar power is set up in such a way that it  measures all the electricity consumed in the household (i.e. imported from the electricity grid) and all the electricity generated by the solar power system and fed back in (or exported) to the electricity grid.  NSW Solar Bonus Scheme credits are applied to the export amounts the meter measures (i.e. everything generated by your system) and consumption (or imported) electricity is billed normally.

A NET import/export metering configuration is also often referred to as “net metering” and is setup in such a way that any electricity generated by the solar power system is always used on the premises first. Electricity generated by the solar power system is only fed back into (or exported to) the electricity grid when the amount generated is more than is being used on the premises. This type of metering configuration separately measures the amount of electricity imported from the grid and exported to the grid and it can be implemented in a number of ways.

In the EnergyAustralia network distribution area, a bi-directional time-of-use (TOU) meter is used for net-metering configurations.  NSW Solar Bonus Scheme credits are applied to the net export amounts the meter measures (i.e. solar power generated electricity less the amount consumed on the premises).  Consumption (or import) electricity is also billed on the net amount the meter measures as being imported from the electricity grid (i.e. total consumption less any solar generated electricity first used on site).

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Q13. Is the solar rebate taxable income to the customer?

 EnergyAustralia is not able to provide advice as to whether or not particular income or payments are taxable by the Commonwealth Government.

Customers should speak to their accountant or the Australian Tax Office for advice as to whether Solar Bonus Scheme payments are taxable in their particular circumstances.
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Q14. How will I be paid my NSW Solar Bonus?

 EnergyAustralia will pay the solar bonus direct to your nominated bank account.  If you do not nominate your bank account details we will send a cheque made out in the name of the electricity account holder.

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Q15. Can EnergyAustralia arrange for my GROSS meter change?

 EnergyAustralia is one of the many accredited participants who are able to install gross meters. Call our Customer Contact Centre to arrange for one of our EnergyFix electricians to provide you with a competitive quote. You can also find details on other Accredited Service Providers in the Yellow Pages and on the NSW Fair Trading website.

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