Not so green on the other side

A few have asked about the result of installing solar panels earlier this year, and finally I have some info from the letterbox.

To start, we didn’t get a single bill since installing the panels until yesterday when the result of me having a go at the power company has finally resulted in the bill being delivered.

Of course the bill is now near on $700, and because they have wacked the whole lot together, it will be harder to really assess the impact – perhaps that is what they want – hide the myth.

There are two aspects to having solar power.  The first is obvious: during the day appliances can draw some of their power from the roof, rather than from the grid, saving the 26.4c/kWh

The second is whatever power is not used is fed back to the grid at 66c/kWh  Before I got the smartmeter, I watched the old one spin backwards, but the new one actually allows the company to know how much to refund. The old way is interesting to watch, the new way gets more money on one hand, but the tariff has also crept up to compensate (them).

So over the 76 days of solar power on the new meter, and being fully wired in, I got a massive $9.90 refunded.

Compared to the same time last year, my average daily usage dropped a whole 2kWh per day. Doesn’t seem worth the massive government investment to achieve such a minor saving.  $8000 invested to achieve a daily saving of 45c/day.  And 13c/day power back to the grid.

At that rate, the investment will have paid for itself in 38 years.  Glad I didn’t pay for it!  However, in fairness, that is not only over the winter period, but also a bill that was over 6 months.  I’ll wait for the next bill before passing final judgement.

Back when I thought about the solar panel, and thought about the shed, what occurred was that during a sunny day, any work I did in the shed would draw no power from the grid – enough power would be generated by the panel on its own, and any power not consumed would effectively offset power used by the shed in any evening.

So the shed is power neutral – thanks to the solar rebate.  Wonder if that was their intention?  They certainly don’t seem to achieve much more than that.

8 Responses

  1. Im looking at installing panels, how many kw is the system you have?

    • 1KW – I could have upsized to 1.5KW, but didn’t feel it was worth me personally contributing $2000 or so to the installation (cost of additional panels plus upsizing of converter etc).

  2. Hi Stewart, your lucky. We were on the same deal until Energy Aus installed their SMART/smart meter,now everything goes to the grid(so much for missing out on the black-outs with our own Supply!) We pay the same rates as everybody else now(my shed is a little quieter now) however we do receive a healthier kick-back at billing time.Considering putting in another 1kw for the shed!
    regards brian

  3. Hi Stu,

    The system is probably too small to make a big impact.

    There was a lot of small systems being advertised at the time of the rebate, telling people that it wasn’t going to cost anything to install. The problem being, the system weren’t really big enough for the average household.

    We put a 3kW system on in May. We’ve gone from a $300 bill to a $50 credit per month. Out of pocket for the install was $7000. We’ll recover our investment in 20 months($7000 / $350). As electricity costs increase, my smile is gonna get bigger, because its all cheques and no bills at out place.

    • That’s probably a very fair assessment, and if I was certain what point I had been trying to make, that was probably it: the rebate offered at the time resulted in systems being installed for free that were too small to be anything. In hindsight, and knowing the change in regulations (that there would be a 66c credit/kWh for any power fed back into the grid), a larger system looks like it would have been the go, but for all the uncertainties, lack of info (even to the extent of lack of calculations how much power could be developed, what power we were consuming, and when, etc), no informed decision could be made.

      I could have done a fair chunk of the calculations, but even then, at the time I didn’t know if the company was above-board or not, and even if we’d qualify for, or get the rebate or not, so it was more a case of “take what was offered, and hope that it might result in something being installed”. As it turned out, yes, we got the rebate (but only by a matter of a week or two before it was suddenly cut off), the company did do the installation, and we now have a small unit on the roof.

      End of the day, it is all fun and games, stimulated the economy, and cost me basically nothing (hmm – nothing for nothing it seems) I could have painted a unit on the roof 🙂

      Wish I could get a $50 cheque rather than a $300 bill! You’ve done well Gavin!

    • Im looking at at a 3kw system, it should produce enough energy to keep us from paying any bills. I am not happy about the fact these companies only give 5 to 10 years guarantee, while saying the panels should last 40 years, i am yet to find one that will give over 10years. The 3kw system will put me out of pocket around 13k after rebate.
      I would really like to know the company giving you 3kw for 7k.

      • Hi,

        $13K sounds about right now. We were lucky. I filled in all the paperwork and meant to post it on a friday but didn’t, so on Saturday morning, I mailed it and decided to use Express Post, don’t understand my reasoning at the time, but really glad I did.. Woke up monday morning to hear that Peter Garrett was ending the rebate, and only applications that processed b4 close of business qualified. We first got told we missed the cut off, then six weeks later got a letter telling up we did make it, then 4 weeks later another letter saying it was a mistake, then a phone call 6 weeks later saying that there was a computer error and we did get our application processed in time and two weeks later a letter confirming this.. What a ridiculous drama it was.

        I didn’t get the solar company to file for the rebate, because then I was tied in to them. Much more bargaining power if I filled in all the paperwork and came to the them with the rebate already pre-qualified.
        They do a lot of fudging if they own your rebate, much more bargaining power if you ask for their best price, without any rebates. Like buying a car, best price please, no trade in.

        So, we went shopping at a time when the new much smaller rebate was in place and solar suppliers were over supplied / caught with stock due to the change in the rebate. We got the $8K rebate and higher number of RECS. At the time we purchased, the difference between current rebate pricing and our pricing was about $5500.

        It was hard to get a lot of suppliers to quote because all their quoting systems were set up for the new rebate and when I told then I had the old rebate up until August 30th, they didn’t know what to quote.

        Probably 75% of them didn’t even bother quoting me.
        I got a 20yr warranty on the panels and 10 yrs on the rest. I’m lucky, I’m an electrical engineer, so I asked for the different brands of components, researched their datasheets and did a large spreadsheet of calculations and efficiencies. I started shopping in November but didn’t get to a decision until late march.

        Also I wanted to let the suppliers start to feel the pinch after Christmas and hope that they were badly overstocked. The pricing dropped nearly $2800 between November and March.

        Our final out of pocket was $7120.00.

        There should be still good pricing around, or coming through. With the dollar reaching parity or thereabouts, they should be able to get components in cheaper. Maybe their current stock is still purchased at the lower $USD price, but when this stock gets replaced it should be cheaper. Something to keep in mind. Might be worth waiting if your rebate has time left.

        Sorry Stu to fill up your board with ramble. I’m passionate about alternative energy generation, own solar power, solar hot water and a hybrid car. I get annoyed at the solar companies that for the most part are snake oil merchants, more focussed on profits from government rebates than alternative energy and like to pass on my experiences in the hope that it may benefit others.


        • It’s not ramble – it is good info – thanks for letting others know. I’m sure there are a number of interested people going through the details provided.

          Cheers 🙂

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