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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 03 Hansard (Tuesday, 30 March 2021) . . Page.. 605 ..


MR MILLIGAN: My question is to the Minister for Climate Action, represented by the Deputy Chief Minister. The Australian Energy Market Commission is examining imposing fees on families with rooftop solar panels who sell excess power back into the grid. Introducing a charge would reduce the return that solar consumers receive. The commission said that it must act to reduce grid congestion or state-wide lockouts could result. Community groups oppose these fees. The commission’s draft recommendations are out for public consultation. Will the Labor-Greens government make a submission and support slugging families with these new fees?

MADAM SPEAKER: Mr Rattenbury, you are responding to this?

MR RATTENBURY: Yes; it is within my portfolio responsibilities. As Mr Milligan has rightly pointed out, this is out for consultation. The Australian Energy Market Commission have issued a proposal. What they are trying to grapple with is that we are seeing points of congestion in the national grid at points in the day, with the high rate of solar penetration in Australia. This is obviously great news on a lot of levels, but there is going to be a need to upgrade the grid. The AEMC is weighing these issues up. I think this is a tricky balance.

We need to make sure that those who do not have solar are not left paying for all the expense so that those who do have solar can sell into the grid. This does not necessarily affect everyone who has solar panels. For example, if you have a battery in your home as well and you are putting all of your solar into your battery, this issue will not affect you so much. So I say to people who are concerned about this AEMC proposal: think about your own system. It may or may not affect you. The ACT government are considering whether to make a submission. We are looking in detail at the proposal at the moment.

MR MILLIGAN: Minister, given that the final report will be made in June, will the Labor-Greens government reconsider its $15,000 loan subsidy scheme for solar panels if new charges are introduced?

MR RATTENBURY: No, because for a range of people, whether this measure comes into place or not, solar will still be a worthwhile proposition for them to take on. People take on solar for a range of different reasons. Some have done it because they want to save money and they think this is the best way. Others have done it because they feel they can make a contribution to reducing greenhouse emissions and improving the environment by investing in solar. People have a range of motivations.

What I say to individuals and households, if they are thinking of investing in solar and putting it on their roofs, is: have a good chat with not just one installer but maybe a couple. Ask them about your ideas, about what the best system for your roof would be and their ideas on how to approach that. Weigh up whether solar stacks up for you before you jump in and invest.

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