Solar power & the QLD Government

When the QLD Government announced that solar power users would be paid for power that they generate, don’t use and feed back into the grid, I didn’t give it much thought. Our power bills were slightly higher than the average, running a business from home and having computers on 24×7, but the cost of a solar system was way beyond our budget. But then, we did the numbers.

We were going to be significantly better off if we drew-down on our mortgage to pay for our solar system. Our mortgage payments wouldn’t rise any higher than we were already paying plus we’d have free power & feed in payments. So, we took the plunge and invested in a 5.5kw system. We love it to bits, especially when our power bill arrives each quarter, in credit.

How greedy of us. How dare we make use of a government scheme that was set up to pay us back for our power. How sneaky of us to realise that we could maximise this benefit by running our appliances in the dark hours, when the grid power cost us less than our solar feed in rebate. Didn’t we realise the impact we were going to have on pensioners and low income families? Slap on the wrist.

Are you kidding me? The QLD government sets up a solar incentive scheme and THEN blames the people that have used it? Including those who scrimped every cent out of their budget or went into debt to put in their solar systems, looking to help alleviate the pain of the rising quarterly power bill as doomly forecast?

But now: “Energy Minister Mark McArdle concerned they are reaping benefits beyond the scheme’s intent” “I don’t believe that was the intent of the scheme and the debate must be had on who should pay what, in regards of their power bills, when you consider a large number of people pay no power bill at all,” he said.

So, dear government, what EXACTLY did you think would happen? What exactly was your intent with this scheme? Lure householders in on a good thing, then panic & change the rules when you realised you’d stuffed up? I fail to see how anyone could have missed that the solar feed in tarrif was going to lead to masses of people installing solar and knocking out their personal power bill.

So now the electricity retailers are crying poor. The total cost of solar to their network (tarrifs, infrastructure etc) is going to ruin them, so they are putting up the price of power for everybody, which screws over the non-solar owners. Yes, that sucks, and it should never have come to that. Did the retailers alert the government to the possibility of this before the tariff was approved? Did they get a chance to?

Electricity is an essential utility, like water. The government needs to decide how much it will regulate that, to keep it fair on the consumers. It can’t just jump in when it’s suitable, setup incentive schemes and not be held accountable when they have a flow on effect.

“Cabinet is debating on Monday how it can lower revenue raised by the state-owned electricity distributors, a price set by the Australian Energy Regulator.” Well, how nice of them. Where did they think the money was going to come from to pay the feed in tariffs? Not it’s own revenue stream, that’s for sure … until the whole mess reached a crisis point and they decide to look into it.

I haven’t touched on the effect that a power price hike will have on consumer confidence -> consumer spending -> business profitiability -> business confidence -> employment ->business tax income for the government. Not only will this hurt Queensland householders, it will hurt Australian businesses (both the little SMBs and the large, high power consuming corporates).

So yeah, I’m a little furious. Furious that a government could be so blind and not see that the incentive scheme would lead to this. Furious that, after playing by their rules, solar owners are being labelled as greedy and not playing within the intent of the scheme.

Dear government, please go back to high school economics, because if you didn’t see this coming, what else are you missing?


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