WA Supports National Solar Feed-in Tariff

Article from AAP, Sydney Morning Herald

West Australian Energy Minister Peter Collier has thrown his support behind a national solar feed-in tariff.

The move comes after the WA government slashed its own scheme and follows blowouts in NSW.

The WA government last week announced it would cut the rate they pay new households who feed solar power back into the grid from 40 cents per kilowatt hour to 20 cents.

In NSW, the government intends to slash its feed-in tariff from 60 cents per kWh to 40 cents paid to existing participants for all the energy they produce from solar panels.

The decision was made after a blowout in the cost of the NSW gross feed-in tariff scheme from $355 million to $1.1 billion.

Mr Collier said NSW made the “fatally flawed decision” to introduce a gross feed-in tariff instead of a net feed-in tariff and it proved to be too expensive.

He said that across the country each state and territory had a completely different feed-in tariff system and there was merit in introducing uniformity.

“It’s a balls-up in its current state … where it’s up to individual states to determine what their rates were and whether it would be a gross or a net system,” Mr Collier told Fairfax Radio on Thursday.

“So what we have now, pretty much, is a smorgasbord of different feed-in tariffs throughout the nation.”

NSW Energy Minister Chris Hartcher has said a national system would be considered as part of its government’s solar summit in late June.

However, Mr Collier said it should be raised as part of a meeting of state, territory and federal energy ministers to also be held in June.

“While we have different rates in different jurisdictions, changing at a constant rate, almost daily … inevitably you have comparisons between jurisdictions, you have resentment from various stakeholders,” he said.

But, he said, the plan would come in for some resistance from federal Energy Minister Martin Ferguson who, Mr Collier added, did not support a feed-in tariff in any form.

Although Mr Collier supported a national scheme, he opposed a gross feed-in tariff which, he said, had the effect of allowing people to profit at the expense of the tax payer.

He said if WA had introduced a gross feed-in tariff of 60 cents per kWh, the scheme would have cost $600 million as opposed to the $23 million originally budgeted for the scheme.

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