Western Australia rules out increase to fixed charges for solar households

Fixed charges, for grid connection, is a battleground in the residential solar sector Down Under. It appears one such battle has been won in the state of Western Australia.

Answering a question in the Western Australian Parliament yesterday, state premier Colin Barnett "categorically ruled[d] out" and increase in fixed charges.

The Australian Solar Council (ASC) said that the premier’s decision to rule out fixed charge increases as, "a huge win for the solar industry and for solar families."

"The Australian Solar Council has campaigned fiercely against a tax on solar families," the ASC’s John Grimes said in a statement. Grimes noted that widespread community support for solar was behind the success and thanked the opposition Labor Party for its "steadfast support" on the issue.

The ASC has been involved in a campaign to prevent the charges being instigated and for ongoing support for energy efficiency programs and the demand side management payments and regime currently in place in Western Australia. A coalition of groups had joined the ASC in the campaign, organized under the banner Western Australian’s for Lower Energy Prices.

While far from being the most populous state in Australia, Western Australia has seen strong levels of small-scale solar deployment. Green Energy Markets’ figures reveal that the state installed some 95 MW of residential solar in 2015, from a national figure of around 715 MW.

In January, researchers from the state’s Curtin University concluded that rooftop PV now represents the state’s "largest power plant" with over 500 MW of PV having been added to the grid in the state’s populated South West region.