20 May 2024

Sun still shining for ACT solar panel owners after export charge fears allayed

| Ian Bushnell
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installed solar system.

ACT electricity customers will be encouraged to power up during the day with a new cheaper tariff when solar is surging. Photo: Mondiaux Solar.

ACT solar panel owners have escaped a charge for the energy they export to the grid during the middle of the day for the next five years. Instead, they will be encouraged to change their consumption habits with a new lower ‘solar soak’ charge.

Ausgrid, which has about 280,000 customers in NSW with rooftop solar panels, has introduced a two-way tariff system to encourage solar panel owners to export their power into the grid in the evening when it is most needed.

It had been feared that the ACT might follow suit but Evoenergy has opted for a carrot instead of stick.

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Ausgrid’s two-way tariff system will include a charge of 1.2 cents a kilowatt hour to send electricity to the grid between 10 am and 3 pm once exports rise above a free threshold.

However, households could also receive 2.3 cents a kilowatt hour if they export power during the peak demand time of 4 pm to 9 pm.

This comes after the Australian Energy Market Commission introduced new rules designed to smooth out the lumpiness in the electricity network caused by the oversupply of solar power during the day when it was not needed but was straining the network.

It would also allow energy companies to pay for upgrades to their networks so they could handle an increasing amount of solar being produced.

The rule change aimed to facilitate small-scale solar into the grid and support the growth of batteries and electric vehicles

The ACT’s Evoenergy had sought two-way tariffs for residential properties and batteries but was rebuffed by the AER on the latter.

It withdrew the two-way proposals in a revised tariff structure statement. Instead, it included a ‘solar soak’ charge, which offers a lower tariff to incentivise all customers to use energy during the peak period of solar production during the day.

Evoenergy told Region that a solar soak period between 11 am and 3 pm would signal that network costs were relatively low at this time of the day and help manage exports on the network.

“With the ongoing uptake of solar in the ACT, the solar soak charge is to reward customers with a lower price for ‘soaking up’ energy during this time,” a spokesperson said.

Its introduction would incentivise the use of solar power during peak production hours, reducing the need for significant upgrades to network infrastructure.

“The tariff structure statement was developed following extensive engagement and consultation with customers and community groups, as well as analysis of export peaks on the electricity network,” the Evoenergy spokesperson said.

The solar soak charge will commence on 1 July with the new tariff structure statement for the 2024-29 period.

The advent of export charges has long been expected, given the demands solar puts on networks and the unfairness of customers without panels having to pay for upgrades.

However, rooftop solar owners and some in the industry say export charges will slow solar take-up and that the energy companies have underspent on upgrading the network.

Tim Sturgiss from ACT solar panel and battery installation firm Huglo Solar said the cost of an export charge to households and payback periods would be only marginal relative to the value of a solar system.

“The alternative was not allowing you to export because the network can’t handle it,” he said.

Mr Sturgiss said households could change their consumption patterns to avoid or lessen such a charge, something Evoenergy’s solar soak incentive will now encourage.

He said people could use timers to charge vehicles and run appliances such as dishwashers, air conditioners and hot water systems during the day when the sun was up.

Mr Sturgiss said consuming more of your own energy was the holy grail.

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He said using batteries, starting at just under $10,000, remained a marginal investment unless the household was a high-consumption household with a lot of solar or was in a location where brownouts and blackouts were common, such as just outside the ACT.

Mr Sturgiss said the days of feed-in tariffs were numbered, and people needed to be clear-headed about why they wanted to invest in a system.

Interest rates, eligibility changes to finance schemes and the cost of living were greater drags on the industry than export charges.

The Clean Energy Regulator said that as of 30 April 2024, 57,185 small-scale solar power systems had been installed in the ACT, of which 3964 had batteries.

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Every year.. Connection fees increase, electricity prices increae and feedin tarifs decrease. 5 years ago i could buy 1 kwh back for every 1.5 ish kwh i fed in. Now its closer to 1 for 3.

Screw all the batteries. Wasn’t there talk of a national DC grid that offered the chance to save bundle on trasnfer of electricty between us and WA. Middle of the afternoon in WA in peak usage in the east, and early morning in WA is peak in East.

If you hooked up every country in the world with a low resistance grid, you wouldn’t have power issues.

lol. Blatant cash grab from the electricity suppliers and the provider stuffed AER and AEMO. So, with all this excess electricity why don’t we see lowered electricity costs? And watching the non solar neighbours get royally scr$wed as they pay 36c KWh for my exported solar I get paid 8c kWh for.
Now they’re going to charge me to export my electricity to sell to everyone else at a 1400% markup. This is on top of the $650million NSW electricity suppliers were granted by AEMO to recover from customers to repair damage caused by the 19/20 fires. Many of which were started by faulty equipment caused by years of neglect and profit gouging. Which they can now claim again as needed to improve the network they let decline. I’m sure that’s going to happen. .
So glad the Liberal Party sold off our state owned electricity providers to give us cheaper electricity 🤦‍♀️
Won’t bother us as we have solar and a battery and will probably just go off grid. This is just going to drive battery storage so they will make even less of their customers. That’s ok, in 10 years when they go bankrupt they can offload it to the states and taxpayers will foot the bill to repair everything

Capital Retro11:25 am 22 May 24

This is what happens to concepts that are heavily subsidised. If you didn’t get all those RECS deducted from the price of the solar system you bought you wouldn’t have bought it because the real price would have been ridiculously expensive.

“This is what happens to concepts that are heavily subsidised”.

Yes, it is reported that fossil fuels received $11.1Bn of subsidies just in 2022-23 so it is no wonder they are on their way out in favour of cheaper wind and solar with firming.

Capital Retro3:59 pm 24 May 24

Please itemize those subsidies, byline and who reported them, The Australia Institute maybe?

Capital Retro11:11 am 25 May 24

Come on byline, you claim elsewhere that I am a “repeat failure” but you can’t even back up your claim of $11.1 billion in subsidies going to the fossil fuel sector.

Did you read the words “It is reported…” Capital Retro? Feel free to disprove any source you please, including the Lowy Institute, the Australia Institute and the Budget papers. Subsidies exist in the form of tax concessions, infrastructure support and incentive funding. These exist also for renewables. The difference is the scale of funding, favouring fossil fuels to date.

In fact I agree that industry-steering by government is an approach of which to be wary. Your problem is that you observe only that which you dislike, blindly avoiding obvious support for things you like.

David Quagmire10:41 am 21 May 24

$17,000? I’m guessing you haven’t actually looked, because you can have a decent system installed for literally a third this figure.

Keyboard Warrior4:53 am 24 May 24

SolarHub, $16k for a 7.4kw system, – STCs, + additional wiring as required.
Please comment below as to who is installing these systems for $5,000 in 2024? I’d love to share in your wisdom.

$5000? Still inventing things to deny, Keyboard Warrior? The straw man is a pretty primitive form of logical evasion. Do you actually have a point to make anywhere?

Keyboard Warrior10:54 pm 20 May 24

Installing solar in 2024 is the biggest con!

Unless you are home all day 9-5 when the sun is shining you will get little value from even the most basic system which these days will cost you approx $17,000 installed.

All the solar companies show you how you’ll get a 7 year pay back but they all model your payback based on you being home 9-5 each day, and the sun shining year round.

Now they want to tax you for feeding power back into the grid, and want you to buy a $15,000 battery that won’t last ten years and might, only might pay itself off over the ten years, no actual return just pay itself back.

ACT gov offer ten years interest free but your home has to be worth less than $450,000 to qualify, so no one in the ACT can qualify.

Early adapters were smart but those that are blindly jumping into solar in 2024 have not done their numbers and are just sheep following the ACT flock.

Dear worrier of keyboards, please step away from any possibility of being responsible for purchasing so much as a box of tea bags. You are obviously a total sucker for any stupendous price Dodgy Brothers or some confidence trickster might offer you, and lack even basic competence to investigate paybacks or to plan your behaviours. It’s a bit of a wonder you can use a keyboard at all.

David Quagmire10:40 am 21 May 24

$17,000? I’m guessing you haven’t actually looked, because you can have a decent system installed for literally a third this figure.

@Keyboard Warrior
“Unless you are home all day 9-5 …”
Have you heard of timer switches, KW? You can program them so that your high power devices, e.g. washing machine and dish washer, come on during the middle of the day. That’s what smart solar users do – though if you are prepared to pay $17,000 for a basic system, I don’t think you fall into any ‘smart’ category.

Capital Retro11:31 am 22 May 24

This is what happens to concepts that are heavily subsidised. If you didn’t get all those RECS deducted from the price of the solar system you bought you wouldn’t have bought it because the real price would have been ridiculously expensive.

Capital Retro11:35 am 22 May 24

@just Saying

It’s impossible to fit a timer and access it behind washing machines and dishwashers in most Canberra homes because of the way the laundries and kitchens are designed.

Capital Retro,
Every single thing you’ve written in your comments is wrong.

A. This problem has nothing to do with renewable subsidies, RECS or any other made up thing you want to mention. It is about the impacts, benefits and costs of small scale solar on local electricity networks. It’s an extraordinarily heavily regulated industry.

B. Smart timers for appliances are quite easily implemented and do not require significant amounts of space, nor need to be located in the areas you mention.

You’re living in the past.

So it is a good thing that for many years now you could buy washing machines and dishwashers with the capability to defer startup to a specified time.

Not that your primary statement was true anyway, except perhaps for you in your house.

Capital Retro2:55 pm 22 May 24

Like many others chewy, the past is the only way of life I can afford.

And renewable subsidies and RECS are not made up (as in lie) they are made up by the taxpayer and that includes you.

Capital Retro2:57 pm 22 May 24

I see and chewy got rostered to “silence CR” today. You have both failed. Spin is very weak.

Capital Retro,
If you’re worried about affording things, you’d support the cheaper electricity provided by renewables.


Strange that you want to pay higher costs for more expensive fossil fuel generators.

And as Byline as said, if you’re so worried about subsidies, you’d be apoplectic about the subsidies given to fossil fuels.

Modern dishwashers and washing machines have a delayed start or delayed finish feature. Or, to put in simple terms, they have built in timers that allow people to use them when the power pricing/availability is most beneficial.

You are far too obsessed with yourself, Capital Retro. No-one could try to silence you, only to observe the new and mostly old ways you are wrong again. Perhaps you think that being wrong is being “cancelled”. Repeated failure strengthens your conviction you must somehow be right, if only facts would change for your convenience.

Keyboard Warrior4:49 am 24 May 24

@byline _ Rather than trade in insults let’s keep this one to the facts (I am not sure how your insulting rant even passed the riot-act moderator?).

SolarHub, a reputable installer, quoted me in the last year $15,680 for a 7.4kw system. They also advised there may be additional costs to access existing electrical infrastructure and run cables through the roof. Minus the STC’s this option would cost upwards of $13,000 gst incl.

As you suggest, running a modern washing machine or dryer on a timer is not going to make significant savings on my monthly bill, in fact we still hang clothes on the line so zero savings to be had there. Add a dishwasher if you like but your are only looking at $0.13 cents per cycle.

It’s ok to have differing opinions or experiences but that doesn’t make me an idiot as you have claimed. I have looked at our meter and understand exactly when we use power, and it is not when the sun is shining.

This basic system (7.4kw) makes no sense at all and even with the most optimistic modelling returns nothing near a 10 year payback.

I stand by what I’ve said, solar systems are the biggest con, people need to do their homework on these things rather than blindly follow their neighbours.

Keyboard Warrior4:58 am 24 May 24

Living in the past is what all the other comments seem to be based upon, most of the critics I have received in here is for my stupidity in believing a 7.4kw system costs more than $5,000.
I have more than done my homework on this, the two quotes I have place a basic system well above $10,000 (even with the STCs factored in).
Time delays on a washing machine or dish washer just don’t cut it for this household. We are not home when the sun is shining, setting a clock on our washing machine isn’t going to give me anything near a 10 year payback on this basic system.

Keyboard Warrior5:01 am 24 May 24

Well aware of delayed timers on basic appliances, all of these appliances combined, they still only make up a small fraction of our total monthly energy consumption. To which end solar makes absolutely no sense for our household, Ive been surprised just how freaked out people are by my claims, solar makes no sense at all for us.

Keyboard Warrior,
Did you get more than one quote for you solar?

Because the amounts you are claiming are far higher than typical installed costs for that size of system in Canberra.

If you are actually talking about a real quote(s), either you were being ripped off or your installation requires some unique features raising the costs. The amounts you’re claiming are not close to normal market rates in Canberra.

Did you think that your own situation might not be the norm?

It’s a cult, KW. Any dissent must be shut down. These people are unhinged.

Keyboard Warrior wrote: “the most basic system which these days will cost you approx $17,000 installed”
then Keyboard Warrior wrote: “quoted me in the last year $15,680 for a 7.4kw system”
then Keyboard Warrior wrote: “this option would cost upwards of $13,000”

So, Keyboard Warrior made a false claim ($17k vs %15.7k), still got the price wrong ($15.7k vs ~$13k) and all for a “most basic system” of 7.4 kW (where you can easily buy less, if you refuse the seller’s kindly persuasion), without stating grade of panels or inverters (which can change the cost 2:1) and for the peculiarities of their particular house not general market price.

Did you lose count of the number of times you were wrong, Keyboard Warrior?

Finally, Keyboard Warrior wrote, thus: “most of the critics I have received in here is for my stupidity in believing a 7.4kw system costs more than $5,000”
Kindly point out a single responder who made that claim, Keyboard Warrior? You invented it, presumably to try to deflect from your errors.

Whinging about not finding value for yourself does not prevent people pointing out you are wrong about the general case.

Keyboard Warrior6:46 pm 24 May 24

@byline – Your pettiness and hair splitting does not really warrant a response. However I would be more than happy to discuss with you in person these numbers, and the total costs of $17,000, which I stand by.
I suspect your interests in the value of solar, and the return on investment are of no genuine interest to you, you just seem to be making a sport out of trolling all comments on all articles on The-Riotact, and calling everyone with an opinion that does not align with your own, an idiot.
I have engaged you with nothing but respect, and wish you all the best, however your comments fall well short of this web sites own guidelines, and I will not engage with you any further.

Capital Retro8:08 pm 24 May 24

That CSIRO report was very disingenuous.

It used false data such as the reactor model chosen only had a life of 30 years. Sixty years is the norm. Also, it factored in revenue assuming the reactor would only be delivering power part time (like renewables) when in fact it will be operating 24/7.

And subsidies would not apply as the reactor would be operated for profit from generating electricity, not on-selling to pension funds while the initial developer pockets the subsidies as is the case with renewables.

Of the leading 20 economies in the world, Australia is the only one that doesn’t have proven nuclear generated electricity as part of their base-load energy needs.

Labor governments, both Federal and State, as well as government funded institutions like the CSIRO and the ABC are demonizing nuclear because Labor/Green ideology compels them to.

Actually, the cost and timeline quoted was reasonable. Note the Snowy 2 pumped hydro is taking as long to complete as a nuclear generator and will cost at least twice as much and deliver only half the power as the pumped hydro which can only operate for a few hours a day.

Byline, since you keep saying that you get cheaper quotes and find that solar is viable for you, can you share some of these numbers?

Capital Retro, do you risk-finance large scale investment? If not, how do you presume to dictate payback lifetimes?
At least you tried to make sense before prejudice entirely overcame you in your later paragraphs.

These I believe are the CSIRO report paragraphs highly relevant to Capital Retro’s opening claims. They are clear, and without fantasies Capital Retro seeks to inject:.
“Large‐scale nuclear, nuclear SMR, solar thermal, black coal, brown coal and gas‐based generation technologies fall into the category of technologies that are designed to deliver energy for the majority of the year (specifically 53% to 89% in the capacity factor assumptions for most technologies and 57% to 71% for solar thermal with this exception made because higher capacity factors to do not improve costs any further for this technology).”
“Coal, gas and nuclear technologies would all have to be successful in operating at 89% capacity factor(44) to achieve the lower end of the cost range when historically coal, which has been the main baseload energy source in Australia’s largest states, has only achieved an average of around 60%.”
“The historical longevity of large‐scale nuclear has led many stakeholders to suggest it should have a longer amortisation period even though there is little evidence presented that private financing would be comfortable with that risk. A sensitivity case where the amortisation period for large‐
scale nuclear was increased from 30 years to 40 years was calculated. This results in a cost reduction for large‐scale nuclear of between $9/MWh and $16/MWh. While significant, this does not appear sufficient to change its competitive position. Readers can conduct their own sensitivity analysis on this topic or any other inputs to the standard LCOE analysis if they download the GenCost Appendix tables from the CSIRO Data Access Portal45.”
with the footnote in relation to 89% capacity factor:
“(44) The lowest cost flexible plant in the system will typically be able to operate at this high capacity factor. However, this will be challenging for new plant to achieve. Older existing plant, with their capital costs mostly paid down and access to existing low cost fuel sources, are typically the lowest cost generation units. New generation units entering the market must recover their capital costs and tend to have less favourable fuel contracts.”

Did you understand that well enough to realise you were wrong, or were you following some pro-nuclear commentary or other? Note that you can download the report to conduct your own sensitivity analysis. Good luck.

Happy to help, Hest Lars, even though it is not the point I and others raised — claims adjusted from $17k to $13k for a particular home, about $1760/kW installed. Other writers here also claim it can be done for less, apparently from experience.

In my own case the fairly recent average cost for 8.7 kW in two tranches was $1200/kW installed. Some of that was new build, always cheaper, and some later. Average fully installed cost in Australia from observers rather than industry is about $1750/kW for a small (~3kW) system, falling in unit price to ranges around $1000/kW to $1300/kW for larger systems.

Price can vary with necessary cabling or meter box work, whether your house is one or two storey, whether panels are split across compass points and between roof surfaces and elevations, what panels you get, what inverter you buy, whether you choose micro-inverters, maybe more.

The original assertion, “the most basic system these days will cost you approx $17,000 installed” was wrong from more than one perspective.

Capital Retro2:38 pm 25 May 24

The no-longer independent CSIRO is mainly funded by governments and entities closely allied to Labor like Industry Superfunds. There are also backers from the commercial sector who obviously want favourable feedback.

The CSIRO is focusing on only renewables with a sprinkling of hydrogen power only because this what what the government have told them to do. To address and nullify the recent opinion polls that indicate nuclear should be introduced as well the comparative cost report between renewables and nuclear was done to “prove” renewables are cheaper.

Another report said “Achieving the reported nuclear costs depends on Australia committing to a continuous building program like South Korea’s. Initial units are likely to incur higher costs, and a first-of-a-kind premium of up to 100 per cent is possible, although not included in the cost estimates for nuclear or other new electricity technologies in the report.”

Capital Retro, your rationalisations there are almost funny!

Please list for me all budget cycles since 1926 when CSIRO and its predecessor CSIR (or their forebears) have not been funded by government?.

You do realise, I don’t trust, that it was primarily conservative governments which pushed private engagement, private sector funding on CSIRO, in hope of ‘applied’ research over ‘pure’?

Lo, and behold, a result has been identification of significant issues for industry and roadmaps for government and industry solutions, so much so that major industries recognise and to various extents are acting on them in not only in energy, industrial and transport sectors but also others affected by human-forced climate change.

Still, you never did mind being hopelessly wrong on every count, did you.

I hadn’t seen that CR had tried to discredit the Gencost report here with baseless claims of bias and his incorrect use of technical information once again outing pure ignorance of the topic he is commenting on.

The Gencost report is prepared in conjunction with industry and all of the data is freely available for critique and update over time.

The report was first prepared under the previous Liberal government, the results have been consistent since then. It’s only now that Dutton wants to back Nuclear that suddenly he doesn’t like the obvious and consistent evidence in favour of renewable energy.

Capital Retro3:16 pm 28 May 24

Just remind me again what those subsidies are, chewy.

Remind me how you think nuclear reactors would be producing and selling power at full capacity all the time?


Evo – so they tried to bring in a charge for solar feeding into the grid and were knocked back, so now they call it a nice fluffy sounding ‘solar soak’ as a plan B. Also they alege ‘extensive engagement with customers’ , what BS.

Two things come to mind here.

Firstly everyone could benefit from rooftop solar panels if the electricity providers charged next to nothing for the electricity during the middle of the day when there is too much of it.

Secondly if the grid can’t handle all of the input from panels on roofs how is the same grid going to cope with the influx of EV’s charging at the high amperage that they charge at? Not to mention our growing population. Perhaps that’s the true reason they want solar panel owners to foot the bill for grid upgrades.

Capital Retro8:48 am 20 May 24

With “evening” defined as the hours between 5.00pm and 9.00pm it is going to be a miracle to export solar power anywhere because apart from a couple of months in high summer there won’t any sunshine available to generate power.

They want you to spend $10,000-15,000 on a battery so that you can export at those times and get rewarded with 2.3 cents per Kwh while at the very same time of the day in NSW they charge 44.7 cents +GST per Kwh

That amount is an additional benefit over and above the standard feed in tariff amounts, not the total payment.

And there are many different market offerings with different tariff structures, which are designed to incentivising smoothed network demand, which benefits everyone through lower costs to augment the network for peak usage periods.

Small scale solar is comparatively inefficient as an electricity source and comes with many challenges for network operators. Localised reverse electricity flows from small scale solar comes with network costs. It makes perfect sense to attempt to balance that through more efficient through enhanced user pays arrangements.

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