Will the $500 QLD solar service charge destroy the solar industry in Queensland?
Queensland business owners are complaining because of the $500 service charge on their electricity bills. Solar industry entrepreneurs say that this move is designed to prevent the roll-out of commercial-scale rooftop solar systems across the state.
The increase in electricity charges for “service” which simply means ‘reading the meter’ have increased from $42 per day to $488 per day. In addition, the “energy” price on consumption was dropped from 11.6c/kWh to 10.4c/kWh.
The Queensland Competition Authority, with the cooperation of the state government discreetly unveiled the QLD Solar Service Charge last July, 2014. But the effects of the QLD solar service charge are only now being felt by local business owners as they do the numbers on their proposed installations of solar systems.
Effects of QLD Solar Service Charge
A wide range of businesses will be affected by the new tariff schedule. Those who will be hit with huge electricity bills are those who are considered large energy users who consume over 100MWh of electricity per year.
These abrupt changes affected various sectors in Queensland, including solar industry members and practitioners, businessmen who are planning to install solar systems, and people who have spent money investing thousands of dollars to make their operations energy efficient.
According to Steve Madson, the director of Country Solar, the new tariffs discourages businesses from lowering their electricity consumption from the grid. With the new tariffs in place, it would not be feasible for business owners to install solar panels or by purchasing more energy efficient lighting and machinery.
The QCA’s new QLD Solar Service Charge is discriminatory according to John Grimes, Chief of the Australian Solar Council. He said that this ruling is aimed squarely at shutting down solar PV in Queensland.
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“It is also really dumb. Commercial and industrial solar is exactly where we should be supporting solar, not locking it out,” lamented Grimes. “That is because when the sun shines, business is hard at work. Solar is feeding electricity into the businesses at exactly the right time, when the machines spin and the computers run. There is a direct correlation between the production and demand curves for electricity and this sector,” he continued.
The new QLD Solar Service Charge will have a dire effect on any business that uses a lot of air conditioners and refrigerators, such as hotels and restaurants. Their electricity bills will surely increase significantly as a result of the QLD Solar Service Charge.
“Small and medium-sized businesses are the ones constantly being slammed to make up for shortfalls in coal revenue. Electricity prices have doubled in five years; gas prices are set to triple,” said Steve Madson, Country Solar Director.
It seems the Queensland government disregards the benefits that renewable energy has provided its citizens. “We have been successful in reducing peak demand which was the all evil 10 years ago causing rolling blackout all over the state,” added Madson.
“With battery storage coming online in multiple forms, we have the opportunity to level our demand which means that no capital will need to be spent on upgrading our network until our population doubles in 140 years,” Madson concluded.