Consumers need to be vigilant on solar power deals: report

Many Australian households with rooftop solar panels may be missing out on the best rates for their solar power, according to a new report commissioned by the Alternative Technology Association (ATA).

The report, Retail Offers and Market Transparency for New Solar Customers, found there was a lack of detailed information for solar customers, creating the potential for people to be ripped off.

It also found there were enormous differences in retail companies’ offers for household solar electricity.

In some states there was only a small financial difference between the worst retail offers for solar households and the best retail deals for non-solar households.

And public focus on feed-in tariffs obscured the fact that retailers determined all aspects of retail solar deals and that other factors, besides the feed-in tariff rate, may have a bigger financial impact on the overall economics of a household solar installation.

The report analysed all aspects of various retail offers to new solar customers and what effects they would have on annual power bills. It covered South Australia, NSW, Victoria and Queensland.

Damien Moyse, the ATA’s energy projects and policy manager, said there needed to be greater scrutiny of electricity retailers’ solar offers and greater transparency so that consumers could make more informed decisions.

“There’s been a lot of attention and publicity about feed-in tariffs for solar, but very little about retail consumption tariffs and other aspects of retail deals, including where retailers take away pay-on-time discounts when someone installs solar,” Mr Moyse said.

“Solar customers could be losing out badly depending on what deal they have signed for the electricity they produce.

Mr Moyse said it was crucial that people thinking of having solar panels installed on their roof shopped around for the best deal, and understood in full how their retail electricity offer could change when installing solar.

“Existing and potential solar customers should check relevant tariff comparator websites in each state, which compare different retail offers, and ask retailers lots of questions about exactly what is and isn’t included with their retail solar deals.”

Retail Offers and Market Transparency for New Solar Customers is available by clicking here.

Tariff comparator website for SA and NSW solar consumers: http://www.energymadeeasy.gov.au/

Tariff comparator website for Victorian solar consumers:http://yourchoice.vic.gov.au/

Tariff comparator website for Queensland solar consumers:http://comparator.qca.org.au/

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