Are there benefits to Queensland energy consumers with the Energex Ergon Merger?
State-owned power companies Ergon and Energex became Energy Queensland when they merged at the end of the June 2016. Queensland Treasurer Curtis Pitt stated the Energex Ergon Merger would produce a company that would be more efficient. “We expect to see savings over the next five years upwards of $680 million.” As solar installers, any merger or changes by Electricity giants always have us concerned, but there appears to be some positive outcomes to this merger.
The Government said it would spend about $500 million subsidising the cost of electricity in regional Queensland for 700,000 customers. This means that regional electricity customers will pay a similar price to people in south-east Queensland. “Rather than sell these assets to the private sector and watch power prices soar, the Palaszczuk Government is delivering on its election commitment to reduce costs and make these businesses work better for Queenslanders.”
According to Energy Minister Mark Bailey “This Energex Ergon Merger will remove duplication in areas like administration, shared services, boards, management, and corporate costs,” he said. What hasn’t been mentioned is there are added bonuses for Solar users released today as part of this merger.
The Positives to the Energex Ergon Merger
The primary change is that we can now apply for inverters with partial export limitation!
For example, an application for a 5 kVA inverter could nominate (in their application) that export capacity will be limited to 3.5 kVA or less. That application will not require a technical assessment. In 2015 rules were introduced to ensure anything over 3kW had to have “Reactive Power Control” however there was no allowance for any export. With the potential increase in power being fed back into the grid by the larger solar systems around the middle of the day, the reactive inverters will simply prevent the feed in power upsetting the grid. All inverters in the Australian market now have the Reactive Power control as standard however, with the merger, we are now able to have partial exports where you can feed an agreed amount of the electricity you don’t use back to the grid.
Another key benefit is the balanced 3 phase systems assessment threshold has been raised
The assessment threshold has been raised from 3.5 to 10 kVA for applications for inverter capacity balanced over three phases and partially or fully exporting to the main network (not our Single Wire Earth Return or Isolated networks).
Minimal-export capacity raised
Non-exporting inverters rated up to 30 kVA are now referred to as minimal-export inverters. As a further benefit to the industry, the Standard allows for a maximum 5% of inverter capacity to be exported during the (up to) 15-second ramp-down process, up from the previous 2%.
This means the minimal-export functionality can be achieved by a wider range of inverters and allows for more effective inverter performance in some cases.
Solar inverter upgrade Rules Change
One change that hasn’t been impacted is the Solar inverter upgrade Rules Change in October 2016. What does this mean for you? At the moment, as a Solar customer, you can have a total system capacity of 1.33 times your nominal AC output on the inverter and still receive STC’s – this means you can increase your Solar capacity. In dollar terms, if you have a 4.6kw AC output (which is the output on the majority of 5kw inverters) your Solar Panel count can be increased to 6kw and you still receive the STC’s which is a saving of $760!
The ONLY option you have as a current Solar customer to increase your number of panels and solar output from October to ensure you still get the STC discount is to then upgrade their inverters with the MEPS capability. You can also upgrade your old 170w or 190w panels to more efficient 250-260w panels complete with a new 10-year warranty and still receive the STC discount as long as the install is completed before October and their inverter is still on the CEC approved list.
If you are still not sure how this will affect you? Contact us today or click on the button below, and one of our team will be happy to answer any solar related questions you may have.