Power Thoughts

Long time between posts, however still have a good time with visiting relatives.  Anyway, I had a bit of a suprise in the post this week.

During the winter quarter, my electricity usage was zero!  Partly because Mr Power metre reading man couldn’t be buggered reading my metre the quarter before, therefore a massive estimate was calculated by my power company, however, we did make quite a bit of our own electricity via our Solar PV system.

Here is an edited copy of the bill details.

But here is the rub.  Even though I used no electricity, I was still charged for 25% Green power (which somehow miraculously appeared after an absence of two bills).  Also, as you can see I was charged for the normal Service to Property charge of 56c per day and therefore will always have to pay something even if I use no electricity.  So, I rang my energy retailer to seek an explanation.
It was a half sensible explanation, whereby even though I pumped as much electricity into the grid as I used, the power I used at night was supplied from the grid and 25% of that was from renewable wind. I understood their logic, and I didn’t dispute it.  I have to get my evening electricity from somewhere when the sun sets.
During the same phone conversation, I once again converted back to 100% renewable wind for the power I draw from the grid at night, and paid for carbon offsets for my natural gas usage for the next year.  By doing this the energy retailer increases the kWh tariff rate from our normal 19.74c per kWh to 25.24c per kWh, so that if my electricity usage is zero as it was last bill I will not be charged an extra “green” tariff.
I was then transferred to a Solar Specialist, who was very informative, so I could enquired about the Premium Solar PV feed-in tariff that should start early November.  It has been passed as law and once all set up, I will receive 60c per kWh for each one I feed into the grid.  However, I have to get my PV installer to send an Electrical Work Request to the energy retailer to get a bi-directional meter installed at a cost of $350.  This is something my installer should have arranged back in 2007!
Anyway, sometime this week I will arrange the meter swap over (ensuring to take a final reading myself) and sign the feed-in tariff contract with my energy retailer in readiness for the new tariff to commence.  I have had confirmation that the energy retailer will not remove any accumulated credits at the end of the 12 month period, so that is an added bonus.  The legislation in Victoria does not stipulate that the credit must be carried over, but upon digging a little deeper with during the phone call, the main reason they are not going to remove the credits is because I could actually sue them for doing so! 
So it pays to find out as much info as you can before getting Solar PV grid tied installed, and ensure that your installer does everything they are supposed to do.  As as many questions as you can during the installation, because otherwise you will have to do the hard yards like I have and do all the research and running around yourself.
Even when you have your own power station on your roof, there is no such thing as a free lunch!


  1. says

    Hey Gav..the perfect post for me right now. I am looking into doing this as my next big project. It is so good to be able to read what other people are doing and what they have learnt along the way. Thank you Gav

  2. says

    I’m so jealous of your solar power. We just received another (huge) electricity bill, even after being so careful after receiving the last one. I’m going to have to audit our energy usage, something is guzzling up the juice.
    We do have solar hot water though, which is better than nothing.

  3. says

    I am with you here. While we don’t have Solar yet (its not quite affordable), we used no natural gas on the last bill (partly because it was summer and partly because of an over estimate) and I still have to pay a fee $15/month just for the lovely service they provide.

    We had a guy come out and give us an estimate. We could put a 4.5 system in for about $16,000.00 and we are not eligible for the tax credits (no liabilities to offset). The system that could be installed would be East facing (to install South facing we would have to remove a row of trees. And would generate (according to our current energy usage) 3 months worth of electricity.

    So for the time being I have put that on the back burner and am just lookiing to reduce our overall energy usage, especially natural gas.

    Good Luck.

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