Monday, June 13, 2011

Is your neighbour's solar panels pushing your electricity bill up?

I read this article which is from the UK and couldn’t help feeling the situation in Australia is much the same.

Who's paying for your neighbour's solar panels? You are
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I attended the local Manningham council bulk solar panel offer and one of the questions I wanted to ask was, “who is paying for the solar panels?” The answer I received was, “we all are”.

For me that creates the situation where those with enough money to install the solar panels puts the $5,000 subsidy onto everyone else. That doesn’t quite seem fair to me.


However there is a gotcha in there for everyone. Those who install solar panels are putting their own prices up as well. Yes they are saving some money, but not as much as they are lead to think they will, the increased prices from using time-of-day charging will put their electricity costs up, plus the future increases as a result of their subsidy will eat into their own savings as well.

Personally I think it would have been much better if the government had installed solar panels as larger projects where there would be economy of scale and the savings of doing larger projects would have meant a subsidy may not have been required. For example schools have very large unused roof space. Buying in bulk at government scale and negotiating on the labour for a larger scale job should have been able to achieve the same result for much less than many individual smaller jobs.

The bottom line is now we will all suffer increasing prices for years to come. For me the idea of taking other people’s money like this just doesn’t seem right. I’m not against solar energy, in fact I’m all for it. But it should be done as cost effectively as possible.

Kelvin Eldridge