The Queensland Competition Authority of Australia has been invited by the region’s governing body to offer its opinion on its drastic changes to the Queensland Solar Bonus Scheme and examine approaches to estimating a fair and reasonable feed-in tariff rate and appropriate means of implementation of it. From July 10, the feed-in tariff was ruthlessly axed from AUD$0.44 to AUD$0.08 and now the government is proposing consumers purchase electricity generated by their PV systems from the grid at a retail price of between AUD$0.17 and AUD$0.35 per kWh.
However, as expected, this has received harsh criticism from the industry. The Clean Energy Council (CEC) argues that the proposed gross metering scheme would be “neither fair nor reasonable”. It attests gross metering would increase costs to householders and make solar PV less financially attractive, thereby reducing the rate of solar installation in Queensland.
“It is fair and reasonable that the benefits brought by PV owners should be captured by PV owners,” continues the CEC.
The government claims that due to the “exponential growth in customer connections to the scheme”, costs have escalated. It has calculated that at the end of June, approximately 504MW of solar PV capacity connected to Queensland networks, with around 190,000 customers participating in the scheme.
“This raises concerns about the equity of the scheme because electricity customers who may not be able to afford (or who choose not to invest in) a PV solar installation are forced to pay the solar feed-in tariff to those customers who choose to install PV solar panels, without receiving any benefit in return,” reasons the government.
The QCA is to publish a draft report no later than November 2012 and a final report no later than March 22, 2013.