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Government solar plans: step back

By ERWIN CHLANDA

As the world is in crisis over the skyrocketing cost of oil and gas, the NT government is abolishing a scheme designed to boost the use of renewable resources for electricity generation.

Some households currently receive 26.65 cents per kilowatt hour for the power from their rooftop installations that they feed into the NT government’s electricity grid.

As of July 1, this will be reduced by two-thirds to 9.13 cents.

Members of the Alice Springs solar industry say this is a clear disincentive for people to become part of the switch to solar power generation, which is abundant in Central Australia.

A trader, Mark Schild, says it’s worth investigating whether Jacana, a division of the Power Water Corporation (PWC), is violating an agreement with current private suppliers.

Minister of Essential Services Selena Uibo is the sole shareholder of PWC. She did not respond to a request for comment from the Alice Springs News† Meanwhile, her government is making a lot of noise about achieving 50% renewable energy by the end of this decade.

Jhana Cowham, of Solergy, says the zero-sum, one-to-one initiative was “definitely an incentive” for people to invest in solar energy. A $6,000 grant for batteries usually covers only each household’s energy needs, with no surplus to sell.

Shane Juffermans, of EcoKleenSolar, which specializes in cleaning photovoltaic cells to improve their performance, expects the changes in feed-in tariffs to curb the spread of solar energy in the city.

He calls the government’s move “a little mean.”

Mr. Schild says Jacana’s previous announcements contradict previous ones.

On May 20, Jacana’s “Customer Care Team” wrote to participants that on July 1 there will be changes “that will affect your account in the future”.

Mr. Schild says that this conflicts with previous commitments of 90 days’ notice.

More disturbingly, the participants seem to have been given the impression that their agreement would have no time limit as long as they adhered to the terms.

It is quite possible that, at considerable expense, they have installed solar energy equipment that exceeds their household needs.

“Why would they” accept 9c for something PWC sells for 26c? asks Mr. Shield.

He points out sections of the agreement that deal with Jacana’s right to terminate the agreement: “Provided that customer first meets the eligibility requirements of Clause 1, this agreement will become effective on the Effective Date and will remain in effect until terminated.” terminated in accordance with clause 9.”

Article 9 sets out a series of 11 conditions, including the size of the PV units, the consumption of the home and change of ownership.

This creates the impression that the agreement will continue if these conditions are met.

On the other hand, the agreement says that it “can be terminated by Jacana Energy at any time with 90 days’ written notice to the customer”.

The NT government will clearly have to do a lot better for the roof makers to spend their money to become a potentially major climate change fighter.

PHOTO: Domestic solar power plants in Zeil Street.

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