A step towards ‘More Sun for Everyone’

25 March 2021

ACOSS and Total Environment Centre welcome the release by the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) of proposed new rules aimed at requiring networks to better integrate rooftop solar and other new technologies into the grid.

The draft rules are in response to a rule change request ‘More Sun for Everyone‘ made by The Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) and Total Environment Centre (TEC) in July 2020, after a 12 month collaborative consultation.

ACOSS Climate and Energy Advisor, Kellie Caught said “All households should benefit from proposed new energy market rules that require networks to improve the electricity grid to increase uptake of solar and enable the pricing of energy to be done more fairly.

“Rooftop solar and batteries can accelerate transition to clean energy and make energy more affordable for everyone, but the old electricity grid was not built for two-way flow of energy and network operators are having to either increase network costs for everyone to fix it, constrain solar exports for current solar owners, or not allow new solar owners to export at all.

“Without new rules, more and more current and future solar owners will not be able to make good use of the energy they are generating, resulting in less benefits to them. In addition, people on low incomes who can least afford it will pay disproportionately more to fix the problems unless pricing methods are changed to ensure pricing is fair and delivers on affordability for people more at risk.

“The reforms should help accelerate cleaner, more affordable and dependable energy.

“To ensure people on low incomes are not left behind the energy transition, we also need governments to tackle the deep divide emerging between people who can access energy technologies and those who cannot, including people on low incomes and renters generally.

“We need government to do more to support people on low incomes to access solar and new energy technologies and also to deliver on energy efficiency. We also need minimum energy efficiency rental standards to be put in place. Investing in energy efficiency and solar for low-income household will create jobs, cut energy bills, improve health and wellbeing and reduce emissions.”

While the AEMC draft rules are not as prescriptive as those proposed by ACOSS and TEC, they aim to achieve the same outcomes and will rely on the Australian Energy Regulatory much more to guide, monitor and approve network proposals.

TEC spokesperson, Mark Byrne, said “The execution of the rules will also be critical. The regulator will have a lot of discretion in approving and monitoring network plans regarding export related tariffs. So we will be closely involved in the tariff development process and will be keeping a close eye on how they are implemented.

“It’s important the final rules and then the Australian Energy Regulator as the enforcer, ensures networks plan better and invest wisely to increase solar capacity; the costs to do so are allocated more fairly; and they ensure solar owners can export, are given choice about how to use their solar and are rewarded for the benefits they provide.

“The draft rule is the result of a long co-design process with consumer groups, market bodies and networks and extensive stakeholder consultation. The outcomes show the benefits of a proper co-design process in which consumers and their advocates play a central role.”