Australia: Ausgrid to slash fees, fast-track solar+storage applications

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Australian grid operator Ausgrid said Wednesday that it was streamlining applications and cutting fees for customers installing solar panels and battery storage in the state of New South Wales.

The state-owned company said it would fast-track all solar and battery systems up to 30 kW in size over the coming months in a move that is expected to save customers more than A$200 on their applications.

Acting CEO Trevor Armstrong said people needing a new or upgraded connection will also be able to apply using a single, online form.

“These changes will make it easier and cheaper for our customers to become more energy efficient,” Armstrong said. “By cutting red tape, fees and processing times, we can help more homes and businesses across our network install solar and battery systems.”

He added that the move could also make the grid more efficient and help customers save long-term by reducing the need to build more capacity into the network.

Ausgrid supplies electricity to nearly 1.7 million customers in Sydney, the Central Coast and the Hunter Valley region.

Some 100,000 customers have already installed embedded generation, usually residential rooftop photovoltaic systems, Armstrong said, adding that Ausgrid received around 10,000 applications a year for embedded generation systems of up to 30kW.

Larger micro-generation systems no longer require the more detailed technical assessment that was necessary in the past due to the lower risk associated with such systems, Armstrong added, pointing out that up to one in 10 applications are for larger micro-generation systems.

The new application process removes the requirement for a more detailed assessment of systems ranging between 5 and 10 kW for single-phase connections and 15 to 30 kW for three-phase connections.

Customers installing these systems will soon be able to fill out a single online form and will no longer need to pay a technical assessment fee.

In addition to saving customers about A4200 in fees per applications, the change will also reduce processing times to about 10 working days.

The changes are due to start later this year.